There are so very many reasons why Moana is a great movie. The most important of them may be the music. The soundtrack and score are something truly special. Every song in Moana is a great one I could spend all day listening to. I know because I have.
I'm not sure there's a single song in Moana that will reach "Let it Go" levels of popularity, but taken as a whole, the soundtrack may be one of the greatest Disney has ever produced. Ranking these songs is tough, so let's give the entire album an honorable mention and then give these five songs special recognition. Potential spoilers ahead.
5. You're Welcome
It's official, there is absolutely nothing in this world that The Rock cannot do. Fans of WWE already knew the guy could carry a decent tune, but when the spotlight's on, he can actually sing when he needs to. While Maui's song of self-congratulations may not be the most beautiful on the soundtrack, Dwayne Johnson is clearly having fun singing it, and that joy is infectious. He powers his way through the song like he was deadlifting it. The tune is an absolute showstopper. It's the song you'll find yourself humming in spite of yourself. See, it's in your head now. You're Welcome.
Bringing in Flight of the Conchords' Jermaine Clement to voice Tamatoa the monster crab was an inspired choice, and he couldn't have been given a better song. It's clear that Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired by Clement when he wrote the tune that is just as glam as the gold-studded crab himself. Tamatoa is by far the best straight performer in the movie. Pure stage presence. The best thing we can say about "Shiny" is that the movie doesn't need the song to tell the story, and yet now we can't imagine being without it. This song may not grab you at first the way others do, but give it some time to breath and you'll realize how great it is.
3. An Innocent Warrior
This is essentially the movie's first song. It's sung over a toddler Moana has she has her first encounter with the sea. It's an absolutely beautiful song that over the course of less than two minutes transports the audience from the movie theater into an entirely new world. It's hypnotizing. The sequence is like a short film unto itself and it has the perfect soundtrack. We still don't know what the words to the song are, and honestly, it doesn't matter. They can't be as beautiful as they are in our minds.
2. We Know The Way
The story of Moana isn't simply a story of one girl discovering who she is, but an entire people discovering who they once were. "We Know the Way" is the film's entire hook in song form. Will Moana be able to return her people to the place they belong? When we hear the song again at the end of the film, it is triumphant. Lin-Manuel Miranda gets to be the one to sing, not about a people who used to travel the seas and discover new lands, but of people who are doing so again. The reprise at the end of the movie makes the hair on the back of neck stand up.
1. How Far I'll Go
In some ways "How Far I'll Go" is like every other Disney princess singing about the thing she wants. But, there's so much more here. Moana is torn between her duty and her desire and not simply because other people tell her what her duty is. She truly wants to take care of her people. She knows that's important. Ultimately, she's able to give into her desires only when she realizes that she needs to in order to save her people. With all due to respect to Alessia Cara, the pop song version of the tune doesn't hold a candle to the version in the film by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho. She brings Moana to life as a character with this song.The newest Disney princess is here, and she's got one hell of a theme song.