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Disney Live-Action Remake Original Songs, Ranked From Bad To Meh

Tom Hanks in Pinocchio
(Image credit: Disney+)

Disney’s live-action remakes are mostly about telling the same story that the original film did, simply in a new format. However, that's not to say that the remakes don’t try to add things to make the stories a little different. Plot details get tweaked here and there, and in the case of the ones that were adapted as musicals, at least one new song gets added to the story.

While many of the songs in the original Disney animated films are among the most popular movie musical pieces ever created (and more than a few of them have taken home Oscars), the new songs added to the remake versions are, uniformly, not that great. Most of them are just bad, and the rest are, you know… fine. Let’s take a look at all the original songs from Disney live-action remakes, from the bad to the ones that are somewhere in the middle. For the record, we’re only covering original songs that appeared in the movie proper, not songs that were used over the credits. 

Tom Hanks in Pinocchio

(Image credit: Disney+)

11. When He Was Here With Me 

Disney’s original Pinocchio isn’t really a musical in the traditional sense of the term, it’s more simply a movie that has the occasional song sung by a character. The live-action remake isn’t really a musical either, but it has a hell of a lot more songs. Four of the songs on this list are from this brand-new remake. 

The first song in the new Pinocchio is “sung” by Tom Hanks. "When He Was Here With Me" actually more of a spoken word poem put to music, which is why it needs to go on the bottom of the list. It’s a well-done sequence and serves as pretty music, but one gets the feeling that a ballad like this just wasn’t in Hanks range, so what we get just isn't a song.

Tom Hanks and Pinocchio

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

10. Pinocchio, Pinocchio 

I don’t want to pick on Tom Hanks, I really don’t, but his second song is only marginally better than his first. He actually sings this one, which is the main reason it’s slightly higher on the list. “Pinocchio, Pinocchio,” sung after Geppetto has discovered his puppet is now alive, is mostly just a bit of silly fun, which is fine, but it’s just an unnecessary song.

It doesn’t add anything to the story and there’s no development of characters, so it’s just an excuse to show off dancing Pinocchio CGI. The song is also barely over a minute long, likely due to the fact that, as the song itself shows, finding things that rhyme with Pinocchio is tough.

Audra McDonald in Beauty and the Beast

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

9. Aria 

“Aria” isn’t much of a song either, but if we’re being complete here, it needs to be included. It’s just a minute of Audra McDonald singing, but even a minute of Audra McDonald singing is worth listening to. She doesn’t sing enough in Beauty and the Beast, so even having this is appreciated.

But if you took the song out and just had music playing in the background of the same scene, nothing would change. This feels like it was added simply because it could be, not because it should be. 

Dan Stevens singing Evermore in Beauty and the Beast

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

8. Evermore 

One of the things that Disney live-action remakes have done with their original songs is use them to give a musical voice to those who did not have one in the original movie. The Beast doesn’t have a solo song in the original Beauty and the Beast, so the remake fixes that by giving him a song that he sings as he watches Belle go home, knowing he may never see her again.

Giving the Beast a song is good, and the spot where he has it is perfect, but “Evermore” just doesn’t work as it’s supposed to work. The Beast is supposed to be in pain, but he sings a song that, while not without emotion, does not reflect that feeling. Beast sings with soaring power, not heartache. In the animated film, Beast simply roars in agony, and that gets across his emotional state better than this song. 

What a Shame in Lady and the Tramp remake

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

7 . What A Shame 

Nearly all of the original songs in the Disney remakes are simply additions, i.e. entirely new songs slotted into places where there was no song before. “What a Shame” from Lady and the Tramp is unusual in that it’s a new song that actually replaces one from the original Disney film. The song “We Are Siamese,” sung by a pair of mischievous Siamese cats is... not missed.

It was, without question, the right call to replace that song with a new rendition. The pair of cats that sing it are of an entirely different breed, and the song is an up-tempo number that bears no resemblance to its predecessor. It has a nice beat, but is ultimately unmemorable.

I Will Always Dance in Pinocchio

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

 6 I Will Always Dance 

Another of the songs from Pinocchio, and one of the better ones, is “I Will Always Dance.” It's unique because not only did it not appear in the original movie, it’s sung by a character who wasn’t even in that version. The new Pinocchio introduces a character named Fabiana, a disabled puppeteer in Stromboli’s show played by Kyanne Lamaya. 

The character, while welcome, doesn’t ultimately add much to the movie as a whol. And while the song has potential, it gets chopped off in the film. A longer version isn’t even available on the soundtrack, making it ultimately unsatisfying.

Emma Tompson as Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

5. Days in the Sun

“Days in the Sun,” is fine. It's a pretty little tune and one that at least adds something to the movie that it’s in. The song sees all the cursed housewares in the Beast’s castle singing about the time when they were human, and how they long to be free once again. 

The problem is that writing an original song about this particular topic was unnecessary because “Human Again” exists and could have been used to accomplish the same thing. “Days in the Sun” isn’t a better song.

Naomi Scott as Jasmine in Aladdin

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

4. Speechless 

Like Beauty and the Beast before it, the Aladdin remake realized that Jasmine never got her own song and decided that was a problem that needed fixing. The result was “Speechless.” Naomi Scott certainly sings the song with power, and it is nice that Jasmine finally has her own song.

The issue here is that, in the film, the song is broken in half, with Jasmine singing part of the song earlier in the film, and finishing it later. This partially ruins the feel of "Speechless" as an anthem as it has to build up its energy twice. Also, the second half of the song takes place in a frozen moment in time, meaning nobody hears her sing it, so she basically still remains speechless. 

Luke Evans as The Coachman in Pinocchio

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

3. The Coachman To Pleasure Island 

Due to Pinocchio, as stated earlier, not really being a musical, it doesn’t have a “villain song” the way most animated Disney movies do. So if it makes sense to add love interest songs to the remakes, it makes sense to add villain songs as well. Luke Evans plays the Coachman in the remake and has his own song where he basically bullies Pinocchio into going to Pleasure Island.

Like basically all the Pinocchio songs new to the remake, this song is too short and incomplete, but it makes sense to give the Coachman a song considering his expanded role in the remake. Evans gives it his all and absolutely sells it as hard as he can, and that’s at least to be appreciated. It's far from the best Disney villain song, but considering many recent animated Disney films haven't even had proper villains at all, it's the newest one in a long time.

Kevin Kline and Beauty and the Beast

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

2. How Does A Moment Last Forever

The first instance of “How Does a Moment Last Forever” is essentially the same concept as the bottom song on this list. Kevin Kline sings a sad song about lost love while building something at a work bench. What makes this song so much better is that Kevin Kline actually sings it, and well, so we get a moment to understand Belle’s father that we never got in the animated film. It’s actually quite lovely.

The song returns for a brief moment later in the film sung by Belle as she learns more about the history of her parents. It’s still pretty, but that entire part of the movie accomplished nothing.

Simba and Nala in the Lion King remake

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

1. Spirit 

Maybe it’s a bit of a layup to make the top song on this list something from Beyoncé, but there’s a reason she’s Beyoncé. "Spirit" from The Lion King remake, which feels like the only change of any kind the remake bothered to add at all, is a great song. It’s by far the best song on this list as a standalone piece of music.

But even with that being said it has issues of its own. While The Lion King is a musical where the characters sing every other song, "Spirit" isn’t sung by Nala, the character voiced by Beyoncé, it’s just a Beyoncé song played over shots of Simba running home. It makes the song feel out of place and strips it of a lot of the emotion it might otherwise have had, so even the best song on this list isn’t perfect.

Next year we’ll get the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, and we already know that movie will include brand new songs, possibly as many new songs as Pinocchio. This includes at least one for Prince Eric, showing that Disney will be following the same formula for original songs that it has in the previous remakes. The movie will probably make a billion dollars, but whether the new songs are actually any good will be an entirely different question. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.