Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Wonderful Music of Disney

After growing up a Disney kid, I've now had 22 years and change to think about what I've experienced. At my youngest, I grew up in the golden era of Disney movies with epics like "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast" being released. As I grew up, I witnessed other movies like "Monsters Incorporated" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." Since my roommate is currently on vacation at Disney World, I've got Disney on my mind. Rather than talk about movies, I want to talk about my favorite parts of the movies: the music.

Disney music is often some of the happiest, up-tempo music you will be exposed to. However, it can also be serious and even downright sad if you pay enough attention to the transitions in the music and the lyrics laid on top of them. Without further ado, I want to get into a couple of lists.

Best Movies for Music

("The Sound of Music" and "Fantasia" not included)

HM: Pocahontas

Irene Bedard's voice on "Colors of the Wind" pretty much puts this movie in the discussion. The movie doesn't exactly stick to historical accuracy, but the songs in this movie are great. Rather than being upbeat, funny, and directed at kids, the songs in this movie seem to be more aimed at adults. I didn't enjoy this soundtrack a ton as a kid, but I love listening to the songs now.

HM: Aladdin

"A Whole New World" and "Friend Like Me" drive this soundtrack, and they are great.

10) The Jungle Book

If you can appreciate jazz, swing, and other older forms of music, then you'll probably love this soundtrack. As one of the older Disney movies, the soundtrack has a record player background to it, which gives it an authentic feel. As for the reason it's on here, the top two songs on the track are fantastic. "I Wa'na Be Like You" is one of my favorite Disney songs, and "The Bare Necessities" is punny and fun.

9) Mary Poppins

If you aren't familiar with this soundtrack, then you're missing out. I'm personally not huge on this movie, but I can't leave it out of the top ten. There are too many classics like "Spoonful of Sugar" and "ThatlongwordI'mnotgoingtospelltwiceinonepostsokeepreading."

8) Tangled

Surprisingly, Mandy Moore is exceptional as the voice of Rapunzel in this movie. The song writing is fantastic, it's got a more modern feel, and the songs are really catchy.

7) Lilo & Stitch

Out of all of the soundtracks on this list, this is probably the most unique. The reason for that is that a lot of the song is sung by a native Hawai'ian in the native language. Throw in some great music and a wonderful-sounding kid chorus and you've got a wonderfully crafted soundtrack.

6) Mulan

This is one of the most demanding soundtracks in any Disney movie, simply because it asks a ton of the voice actors to contribute. I don't think one person thought the singing in this movie would be as great as it was.

5) The Little Mermaid

Jodi Benson

4) Beauty and the Beast

Just so many classic songs. "Be Our Guest", "Belle", and "Beauty and the Beast" will forever remain in the hearts of countless individuals as precious memories. The music is well-crafted, and the lyrics are even better.

3) Pirates of the Caribbean (Series)

Unlike most other Disney movies, the music in this series is done via an orchestra led by the legendary Hans Zimmer. I don't know enough about orchestras to go into specifics, but listening to the OST for this series is always a joy.

2) The Lion King

It's easy to just give a ton of credit to Elton John for this soundtrack, and it's a little unfair to other movies that he was so heavily involved. However, he worked on some of the greatest songs ever. The songs on this track are the stars of the Broadway musical, and the John has performed the songs in live concerts countless times.

1) Tarzan

While Elton John is "unfair" on The Lion King's soundtrack, Phil Collins was simply insane on this soundtrack. I've listened to a lot of Phil Collins and Genesis throughout my life, and I've never heard him as good in any of his songs as he is on the Tarzan soundtrack.

Best Songs of All Time

First off, here are the honorable mentions:

"Why Should I Care?"- Oliver and Company
"Zero to Hero"- Hercules
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"- Mary Poppins
"Go the Distance"- Hercules
"A Whole New World"- Aladdin
"Reflection"- Mulan
"Be Prepared"- The Lion King

"Everybody Wants to Be a Cat"- The Aristocats
This was my sister's obsession growing up. Shockingly, she turned into a cat person. Who knew?

Now to the rest of the list:

25) "You've Got a Friend in Me"- Toy Story

Chances are you've heard this song before. Randy Newman's most classic song created for Pixar Studios helped make Toy Story one of the greatest animated films of all time. It's comforting, humble, and uplifting.

24) "Jack Sparrow"- Pirates of the Caribbean

23) "When Will My Life Begin?"- Tangled

This movie is relatively new, so it doesn't get a ton of love and respect for the great Disney movie that it is--for what it's worth, it's got a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Disney got away from serious movies and Pixar to head back into the world of animated films, and they nailed it. This song is the highlight of the movie.

22) "Part of Your World"- The Little Mermaid
21) "Kiss the Girl"- The Little Mermaid

Honestly, Jodi Benson's singing voice is just great--she voices Ariel in the movie, if that wasn't already glaringly obvious. "Part of Your World" is probably the best example of your talents. Meanwhile, "Kiss the Girl" has arguably my favorite introduction to any Disney song ever.

20) "You'll Be in My Heart"- Tarzan
19) "Belle"- Beauty and the Beast
18) "Heigh Ho"- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
This one gets a video AND a summary just because I say so. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was the first major motion picture put forward by Disney. Since this is the major song from said movie, this song gets on the list by default. If you listen to the way the song is constructed, the song really seems to set the foundation for the way all Disney songs are framed. It's happy, peppy, and just fun to listen to--and some of those guys had goddamn amazing voices.

17) "Friend Like Me"- Aladdin

16) "If I Didn't Have You"- Monsters Incorporated
15) "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"- The Lion King
14) "The Bare Necessities"- The Jungle Book
13) "The Circle of Life"- The Lion King

If I were to make a list of the songs that were objectively greatest and not just my favorites, this one would probably top the list. Elton John doesn't perform the song in the movie, but his recording of it is nothing short of incredible.

12) "Davy Jones"- Pirates of the Caribbean

11) "Hawai'ian Roller Coaster Ride"- Lilo & Stitch

Top 10 

(hint: these are all getting videos and summaries because they're worth it):

10) "Beauty and the Beast"- Beauty and the Beast
"Tale as old as time" might just be the most recognizable Disney lyric of all time. However, that's certainly not where the song stops being great. From the lyrics to the vocals to the melody, this song is just all around easy to love.

9) "Be a Man"- Mulan
Who knew that military drills set to Disney music could work? Well, in this song it absolutely does.

"(Be a man)
You must be swift as the coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire
(Be a man)
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon"

Just a freaking amazing chorus, if you ask me (especially starting at the 3:00 mark in the video). It's not lyrically great, but it's still awesome.

8) "Be Our Guest"- Beauty and the Beast
"We'd like you to relax and pull up a chair as the dining room proudly presents: your dinner"

Have you tried the gray stuff? It's pretty delicious. One of the catchiest songs I can remember, and you'll learn a lot about different types of food. Oh, and the part where they mock Cogsworth is naturally incredible.

7) "He's a Pirate"- Pirates of the Caribbean

Probably not Hans Zimmer's greatest accomplishment, but this song is just great. Naturally, my high school uses this song at commencement ceremonies (we the Pirates, go figure).

6) "I Just Can't Wait to be King"- The Lion King

So many great puns in this song, and I find the antics of Zazu to be particularly great. I'd rather you listen to this song than read my words about it. "If this is where the monarchy's headed, count me out!"

5) "Under the Sea"- The Little Mermaid
Little known fact about me: I "sang" this song in second grade in front of my class. It was terrible, but this song is not. Sebastian is one of my all time favorite Disney characters, and this song is the biggest reason why. The chorus is so damn catchy.

4) "I Wa'na Be Like You"- The Jungle Book

I'm a big fan percussion and smooth beats, and this song has the greatest beat in Disney history. While the song lacks in great vocals, the lyrics are great. I love the way Disney broke off from their traditional songs to make a song like this. The opening few lines are just great. "I'm tired of muggin' around."

3) "He Mele No Lilo"- Lilo & Stitch

Just listen, guys. Such a fantastically written song (especially the bridge). Lilo & Stitch is criminally underrated in the Disney world.

2) "Son of Man"- Tarzan

Phil Collins was a BEAST (pun intended) when he worked on this soundtrack. The intro, the chorus, the bridge...everything about this track is just incredible. If you need more to like about this song, watch Tarzan and notice the timing of when the track is used. Much like the next song on this list, it is the song that transitions you from one part of the movie into the next, and it fits so incredibly well.

1) "Hakuna Matata"- The Lion King

This will by my favorite Disney song until the day I die. I've loved it ever since the first time I heard it. There's plenty of great humor within the song, and Pumbaa's story is pretty hilarious. Plus, it's got the catchiest chorus in Disney history. As a final kicker, it teaches a great life lesson:

Don't dwell on the past. Live in the present and focus on what you can control. Make the most out of your life.

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