A common theme of Disney’s most beloved animated features is their fantastical musical numbers, whether they’re used to introduce characters to audiences, explain key information about the world, or move the story forward.
Since the studio’s first animated feature in the 1930s, several Disney films have won Academy Awards for Best Original Song, but even more have been nominated in the Oscar category only to lose to another nominee. Despite everything, these nominated ballads remain classics in the Disney catalog.
“Baby Mine” – Dumbo
Used to show the bond between Dumbo and his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, “Baby Mine” is a tender lullaby that plays as Mrs. Jumbo reaches out for her son even though she is locked in a circus wagon.
Since the pair of elephants are apart for much of the film, this song is particularly effective in showing the love these two have for each other even though neither character is speaking, and has even more the audience rooted for their reunion.
“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” – Cinderella
A signal of Cinderella’s changing circumstances, “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” is a light, catchy tune used by the Fairy Godmother as she transforms a pumpkin into Cinderella’s carriage and turns mice into white horses to pull her along.
Although there are many non-Disney versions of Cinderella, this animated classic is notable for introducing visual and audio components of the story that would remain a constant in later adaptations, including that song, which has become synonymous with magic.
“The Bare Necessary” – The Jungle Book
Illustrative of Baloo’s values and philosophy of life, “The Bare Necessities” is a jazz song that showcases the benefits of living a simple life in the jungle, with no regard for danger or the desire for more.
This song also shows why Mowgli gets along so well with the bear, given the couple’s shared affinity for fun, and although the film later questions Baloo’s belief that bad things don’t bother him. , at its conclusion, he and Bagheera sing a cover of the tune. , with the balance restored in the jungle.
“Kiss The Girl” – The Little Mermaid
Sung by Sebastian the Crab as Ariel and Eric take a romantic boat ride together, in an effort to help Ariel break her curse, “Kiss the Girl” is a calypso pop song.
A total of 3 songs from the soundtrack were nominated for Oscars, with “Under the Sea” winning the honor. Among the lessons we can learn from Disney’s The little Mermaid is that love can’t be rushed, even with Sebastian’s interference, but the time Ariel and Eric spend together is important.
“Friend Like Me” – Aladdin
A stunning introduction to Genie magic and mythos, “Friend Like Me” is full of pop culture references and jokes the Genie uses to show Aladdin his powers.
This show tune can be easily recognized by its opening notes alone and provides massive amounts of information about the Genie’s character in just a few minutes, showcasing its dramatic flair. Another number 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
Opening the film in style, “Circle of Life” shows the natural order of things in Pride Rock when Simba is born and introduced to his animal subjects, establishing the configuration of the animal kingdom.
As one of the best movies under 100 minutes, it’s surprising how many memorable songs fit into The Lion King, with 3 of the 5 songs nominated for Best Original Song that year coming from the film. Although “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” won the accolade, “Circle of Life” acts as an excellent summary of the film’s themes.
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Toy Story
Performed over Disney and Pixar opening credits toy story to demonstrate Andy and Woody’s friendship, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” has since become a staple in every toy story movie.
Let it be used with sincerity as in its first appearance, later tinged with sadness in Toy Story 3 to illustrate how Andy grew up and away from his toys, or sung by characters in the movies themselves, the theme song still evokes some kind of emotion. Interestingly, it lost the Oscar to another Disney hit, Pocahontas‘ “Colors 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 notably accompanied by a stylized animation featuring a luminous and Art Deco vision of the future.
This issue shows Tiana’s work ethic and determination to achieve her dreams, establishing her motivations and proactive nature. Even with her mother’s encouragement to take things easy, Tiana remains passionately fixated on 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’s 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, the two characters reflecting on the path they took to get here and on how their journey has changed them both.
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana
As Moana realizes that all she desires is over the ocean and beyond, she sings “How Far I’ll Go”, detailing her wish to leave home and explore life beyond. his family’s expectations of him.
The song also has an emotional cover later in the film, when Moana pursues her dream after being encouraged to do so by her dying grandmother Tala, highlighting the couple’s shared bond with water, and the song becomes representative of ‘those two.
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