A common theme throughout Disney’s most beloved animated films is their amazing musical numbers, whether used to introduce characters to audiences, explain key information about the world, or propel the story forward.
Since the studio’s first animated feature in the 1930s, several Disney films have won Oscar awards for best original song, but even more have been nominated in the Oscar category for only losing to another nominee. Still, these nominated ballads remain classics in the Disney catalog.
“Baby Mine” – Dumbo
Used as a way to show the bond between Dumbo and his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, “Baby Mine” is a tender lullaby that plays while Mrs. Jumbo reaches out for her son, even though she’s trapped inside a circus car.
Given that the elephant couple is separated for most of the film, this song is particularly effective at showing the love these two have for each other, even though neither of the characters speak, and it makes the audience mess up even more their reunification.
“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” – Cinderella
A signal that Cinderella’s circumstances are reversing, “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” is a light-hearted and catchy tune used by the godmother as she transforms a pumpkin into Cinderella’s chariot and turns mice into white horses to pull it.
While there are many non-Disney versions of Cinderella, this animated classic stands out by introducing both visual and audio components of the story, which would remain a constant in later adaptations, including this song, which has become synonymous with performing magic.
“The naked necessities” – The Jungle Book
An illustration of Baloo’s values and philosophy of life, “The Bare Necessities” is a jazz song that shows the benefits of living a simple life in the jungle, without worrying about danger or a desire for more.
This song also shows why Mowgli gets along so well with the bear given the couple’s common affinity for fun, and although the film later challenges Baloo’s belief that bad things do not bother him, he and Bagheera sing a repetition of the tune. , with the balance restored in the jungle.
“Kiss The Girl” – The Little Mermaid
“Kiss the Girl” is a calypso-pop song sung by the crab Sebastian, while Ariel and Eric go on a romantic boat trip together, in an attempt to help Ariel break her curse.
A total of 3 songs from the soundtrack were Oscar-nominated, with “Under the Sea” winning the honor. Among the experiences one can learn from Disney’s The little Mermaid is that love can not be rushed, even with Sebastian’s interference, but that the time Ariel and Eric spend together is important.
“Friend like me” – Aladdin
A great introduction to the magic and myth of the spirit, “Friend Like Me” is full of pop culture references and jokes that the spirit uses to show Aladdin his powers.
This show tune can be easily recognized alone on its opening notes and provides huge amounts of insight into Genie’s character in just a few minutes, showing off his dramatic flair. Another track from the film, the romantic “A Whole New World”, ended up winning best original song, showing the strength of the soundtrack as a whole.
“Circle Of Life” – The Lion King
“Circle of Life” opens the film in style and shows the natural order of things on Pride Rock when Simba is born and introduced to his animal subjects, establishing the set-up of the animal kingdom.
As one of the best films in under 100 minutes, it’s surprising how many memorable songs fit into it Lions King, with 3 of the 5 songs nominated for best original song that year from the film. Although “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” won the award, “Circle of Life” serves as a good summary of the film’s themes.
“You have a friend in me” – Toy Story
Played over the opening lyrics for Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story to demonstrate Andy and Woody’s friendship, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” has since become a staple in everyone Toy Story movie.
Whether it is used sincerely as in its first appearance, later marked by sadness in Toy Story 3 to illustrate how Andy has grown up and away from his toys, or sung by characters in the films themselves, the theme song always evokes emotions of some kind. Interestingly, it lost at the Oscars for yet another Disney hit, Pocahontas‘ “The colours of the wind”.
“Almost There” – The Princess And The Frog
“Almost there” is used at the beginning of The princess and the Frog when Tiana and her mother are at Tiana’s restaurant. The song is especially accompanied by a stylized animation that shows a bright Art Deco vision for the future.
This figure shows Tiana’s work ethic and determination to achieve her dreams, and establishes her motivations and proactive nature. Even with her mother’s encouragement to take things in stride, Tiana passionately stays true to her goals and sees a way for herself to achieve them.
“I See The Light” – Tangled
“I See the Light” is a duet between Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, after reaching the site of the lantern release, the culmination of Rapunzel’s lifelong dream.
This scene is one of the most beautiful in the film, with one of the most romantic moments, including the love song that follows, with both characters reflecting on the path they took to reach this point and how their journey has changed them both.
“How far should I go” – Moana
When Moana realizes that everything she wants is out at sea and outside, she sings “How Far I’ll Go” and describes her desire to leave home and explore life beyond family expectations of her.
The song also has an emotionally charged repetition later in the film, as Moana pursues her dream after being encouraged to do so by her dying grandmother Tala, emphasizing the couple’s common connection to the water, and the song becomes representative of both of them.
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