38. “The Backson Song” from Winnie the Pooh (2011)
Springing from a misunderstanding of a simple phrase (something children do every day), “The Backson Song” is at times clever, usually creative and always funny. In a case of the blind leading the blind, the song showcases how Owl (voiced to perfection by Craig Ferguson) is able to manipulate the naïve thoughts of the other denizens of The Hundred Acre Wood.
While working on a deep character level, “The Backson Song” is also memorable, and a lot of fun. The bubbly rhythms and amusing lyrics instantly transport you to a more childlike state, but more importantly stick in your mind long after you’ve finished watching the movie.
37. “For the First Time in Forever / Reprise” from Frozen (2013)
The main song is catchy as all get out but it’s as you listen to the reprise you realize that Kristen Bell, someone not particularly known for her singing ability, holds her own against Tony-award winning vocal powerhouse Idina Menzel. Their chemistry throughout the entire movie is impeccable but it’s this song that really illustrates how they’re two sides of the same coin.
36. “Cruella de Vil” from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
From the very beginning, Disney has been synonymous with musicals. One Hundred and One Dalmatians was their first foray into the non-musical format. With this song, Cruella has perhaps the best entrance of any Disney villain.
First showing up as a silhouette, she bursts through the door and in no time is proclaiming everything to be “miserable, darling, as usual, perfectly wretched.” The scene reveals a multilayered usage for the song, not only showing us that Roger is a musician, but also using its bubbly nature to contrast the bat shit crazy intentions of a clearly demented woman. Plus it’s really quite catchy.
35. “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book (1967)
Originally hired as the composer for The Jungle Book, Terry Gilkyson, along with original writer Bill Peet, were crafting a much darker story (more in tone with the Kipling work) than Disney wanted in a fun, family film.
The Sherman brothers (Richard and Robert) were brought in to replace Gilkyson. However, the one upbeat song that he had composed was kept for the film, “The Bare Necessities.” And while it does not necessarily fit in with the sub-continental setting, it’s an extremely fun song that you can’t listen to without bouncing in your seat.
34. “Gaston / Reprise” from Beauty and the Beast (1991)
More of a song about a villain than an actual villain song, there’s nothing you need to know about Gaston that you won’t learn by listening to the lyrics. The insight that this song gives us as to the wheels turning inside his head is almost chilling in its irony. And hey, it also taught us what expectorating means.
33. “Heffalumps and Woozles” from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
It may not be the easiest song to hum, but its inventive use of sound and image, coupled with its iconic status (they even made a full movie out of it) is more than enough evidence to support its brilliance.
It’s not typically what one would expect in a movie that takes place within a child’s imagination, but it takes the freedom of the mind of a child to create such wildly fantastical, spur-of-the-moment thoughts and lyrics.
32. “I’ve Got no Strings” from Pinocchio (1940)
“I’ve Got No Strings” shows Walt Disney’s love of all things international by introducing the Dutch, French and Russian rhythms with each of the accompanying puppets.
Tackling topics such as celebrity, independence and greed, this song sets in motion the next phase of Pinocchio’s journey while proving that one should “always let your conscience be your guide” while presenting itself as one of the most child friendly songs of the Golden Age of Disney Animation.
31. “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from The Lion King (1994)
We based this rating, for the most part, on its high nostalgia factor — something that anyone who was around when The Lion King was released will remember fondly. The bouncy beat and off the wall back and forth between Simba and Zazu make this song an unforgettable romp across the African savannah.
30. “Go the Distance / Reprise” from Hercules (1997)
Essentially, in a movie that boasts numerous fantastic songs, “Go the Distance” stands out as easily the most pop culturally relevant.
Between being a chart topping hit for Michael Bolton and receiving various accolades, including Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, it has become the song most associated with the movie, confirming its place within the pantheon of Disney greats.
29. “One Jump Ahead / Reprise” from Aladdin (1992)
The most important thing to take away from this song is Alan Menken and Tim Rice’s brilliant execution in getting us to sympathize with Aladdin — a character, who lies, cheats and steals his way through life.
Then, only moments later during the reprise, they rub away the boy’s boisterous exterior to reveal his vulnerable interior, giving the titular character heretofore unseen layers of depth.
28. “Pink Elephants on Parade” from Dumbo (1941)
With what can only be described as ‘nightmare-fuel,’ Disney’s first foray into their sporadic exploration of drug-infused visuals brought the audience to its knees with this 1941 marvel of Technicolor. The jarring tonal shifts in the music coupled with the stunning visuals help in creating the sense of unease found rampant throughout.
Arguably the most surreal effort ever put forth by Disney and certainly the most bizarre, “Pink Elephants on Parade” is less a character study (as many of their songs tend to be) and more a representation of the legendary animation studio’s more experimental side.
27. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from The Lion King (1994)
We thought hard about having this song in our top ten based solely off of its impact on both the company and pop culture, but felt the severe mishmash of styles in the version included in the movie (Timon and Pumbaa’s comic relief, the African chants, the off-screen singer and the young lions’ internal monologues) didn’t quite gel together. Still, the song is gorgeous in every sense of the word, uplifting in its intention and beautiful in its execution.
26. “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog (2008)
While Belle was the first Disney princess to sing about how she wanted something more than just a man to sweep her off her feet, this is where we first see a (soon to be) princess actually work her ass off and go after what she wants.
From the opening scenes, Tiana’s tenacity is clearly evident but it’s not until “Almost There” that the true extent of it becomes clear. The song starts out as a slow jazz hall riff and quickly explodes into a full-blown Art Deco Dixieland daydream.