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It’s always the same songs. There are about a dozen beloved, universally recognized classic Disney tracks, and they repeatedly populate, in some order, Top 10 lists, cover version CDs and various productions. I get it. During one of my elementary school talent shows growing up, no less than three people sang "Colors Of The Wind". Why? Because that song was 1) new, 2) popular and 3) awesome. What more could a little kid possibly want out of a talent show backing track?
But the great thing about Disney musicals actually isn’t the super highend songs. Sure, I love "Circle Of Life" as much as anyone else, but if you had to choose one truly remarkable standout thing about the Disney catalog, it has to be its almost absurd depth. There are Sporcle quizzes devoted to having people guess 100 classic tracks found in the company’s movies. 100! What other studio could you possibly do that with? And thanks to the upcoming Frozen, which is getting great reviews, there are likely to be at least a couple added to the treasured pile in the very near future.
So, in honor of the soon to be released magic and the history of great Disney musicals, let’s give some love to great Disney songs that aren’t constantly praised like "Beauty & The Beast". Here are 10 wonderful Disney songs that don’t get enough credit…
Tangled’s "I’ve Got A Dream"
First of all, Tangled is incredible. It gets better with each re-watch, and it would be an absolute shock if people didn’t remember it as a classic Disney film five decades from now. It’s that good. Second of all, even those who can’t get enough of Tangled tend to obsess over "I See The Light". No doubt that song is more heartfelt and beautiful, but "I’ve Got A Dream" is just so damn fun.
For my money, it’s the single best song in "Tangled". It has great momentum, more than a few laughs and a sort of manic, slapstick pace to it that’s highly enjoyable at that point in the film. It sort of lets viewers know how much fun they’re in for. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot.
Mary Poppins’ "Let’s Go Fly A Kite"
People like "Let’s Go Fly A Kite". I have distinct memories of my mother humming it when I was a little kid, but compared to the other tracks Mary Poppins offers up, this one is usually relegated to lowly afterthought. Whether we’re talking about "A Spoonful Of Sugar", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or the Oscar winning "Chim Chim Cher-ee", something almost always keeps "Let’s Go Fly A Kite" out of the discussion when it comes to the film, but it’s actually really, really freaking good.
Its lyrics are so simple. Its tone is so over-the-top happy, but in a way, all of those things fit perfectly with the movie itself. I don’t think anyone in the history of the world has ever had as much fun flying a kite as this track seems to promise, but I’ts hard to faulting a movie for making something too enticing.
Princess And The Frog’s "Friends On The Other Side"
I’m a total sucker for songs that have a lot of spoken word in them. To me, the point of a great Disney track is just as much to add layers to characters as it is to be radio friendly, and while "Friends On The Other Side" is light on the latter, it’s super heavy on the former. Beyond that, it also has a snappy chorus, some great call-and-response and moves the entire plot forward. Plus, a big finish. Who doesn’t love a big finish?
For the life of me, I have no idea why people weren’t bowled over by Princess And The Frog. It has a ton of great moments and that alligator is a home run. Alas, it’ll always have its hardcore fans and fairly solid reputation, thanks largely to tracks like "Friends On The Other Side".
Pocahontas’ "Just Around The Riverbend"
I know what you’re thinking. But Mack! People really like this song. Yes, they do, but they don’t love it. Most people are just pretty on board and seem to think it pales in comparison to "Colors Of The Wind". I’m here to very loudly and very firmly disagree. "Just Around The Riverbend" is the single best thing about Pocahontas. It is phenomenal. It has big ideas. It isn’t overly reliant on a splashy chorus. It’s a perfectly crafted song, and it deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time great Disney tracks, not a comfortable number two in its own movie.
Mad props to singer Judy Kuhn for plowing through this fast-paced song without ever coming across as out of control. That’s deceptively difficult, and without that hurried yet very consistent pace, the song would be a whole lot worse.
Tarzan’s "Two Worlds"
"Two Worlds" is a hard sell on Tarzan’s most basic theme. Just because people/ animals come from different places and have different perspectives doesn’t mean they can’t still be one single family united by love. The track plays over the movie’s opening credits, a hyper-emotional montage in which a ship’s crew, a baby gorilla and two parents tragically lose their lives to the vicious mistress that is nature. I’m not going to say the song is able to cheer all of that up, but it really does make it seem like it can be overcome.
People like hating on Phil Collins for some reason, but his voice and general perspective are actually perfect for this movie. He lays every emotion out there to be interpreted very literally, and that works with this material and a handful of non-Disney tracks he crushed it on.
The Rescuers’ "Someone’s Waiting For You"
Apart from a few notable exceptions, the long-term relevance of a Disney song is often directly related to whether or not the movie its featured in is still watched and loved decades after its release. Unfortunately for "Someone’s Waiting For You", people just don’t really like The Rescuers that much. Its sequel is widely considered to be a superior product, and neither film was able to become true, honest-to-God classics. Instead, they’re merely thought of as pretty good Disney efforts, which really isn’t fair to "Someone’s Waiting For You".
Quite possibly the saddest Disney track this side of "When She Loved Me", it hits all of the right emotional notes, serves a clear purpose and elevates the larger film. It could have been the lynchpin in one of the Disney renaissance efforts, but as it stands, it will go down as a brilliant song in an underwatched movie.
Mulan’s "I’ll Make A Man Out Of You"
I love songs that give a few lines to several side characters. It’s a great way to make supporting pieces who continually appear in the background seem like true and relevant parts of the plot. "I’ll Make A Man Out Of You" does that quite a bit, and more importantly, it’s particularly suited for a training montage, which a film like Mulan obviously needs.
Thanks to Christina Aguilera, your average twenty-something retrospectively remembers "Reflection" as the end all be all song from Mulan, but the movie’s basic tone is one of fast-paced energy. "I’ll Make A Man Out Of You" just fits it better. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
Alice In Wonderland’s "The Unbirthday Song"
Alice In Wonderland is a weird movie. I can’t even decide whether or not it’s good. Sometimes I think it’s pretty damn awesome, and sometimes I think it’s simply too weird to ever completely work. Regardless, "The Unbirthday Song" perfectly suits its tone. The song is outlandish, nonsensical and strangely catchy. It’s the type of song you’ll catch yourself singing well after the runtime is finished, whether you realized you liked the song on initial view or not.
I might not be in favor of people singing "The Unbirthday Song" 364 days a year, but every now and again, it’s the perfect way to celebrate a day that’s completely ordinary in every single way.
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’s "God Help The Outcasts"
A lot of Disney movies are about fitting in. They’re about finding your place and achieving contentment, whether it’s as a video game villain or a princess. As such, "God Help The Outcasts" is sort of like a call to arm for all of those characters over the years. Apart from the heavy religious symbolism, it would easily fit into well over half of the studio’s films. To some, that might mean it’s more generic, but to me, I would say it’s more a sign of just how spot-on the message is here.
Like some of the other songs on this list, "God Help The Outcasts" suffers a little bit because people aren’t that on board with its larger movie, but this song means too much to too many people to ever completely go away. It’s beautiful, and it’s one of Disney’s best ever.
The Lady And The Tramp’s "We Are Siamese If You Please"
"We Are Siamese If You Please" sums up my entire feelings on cats. They’re big weirdos. They can’t be trusted. They sulk around throwing out their weird vibes at people, and yet, there’s something about them that’s oddly likeable to people. On paper, this song should be horrible. It should be one of Disney’s worst ever songs (which is a list for another day), but through sheer willpower and maybe some dumb luck, it’s insanely catchy and memorable.
I will never own a cat. Ever. But now and again, I’ll rewind my copy of "Lady And The Trump" to watch this uncomfortable madness one more time.