(songs by Phil Collins)
Breaking with Disney tradition a bit, Tarzan only had two of its songs actually being performed by the characters in the movie, while the rest were presented as regular pop songs scoring the action, in typical movie soundtrack fashion. However, I actually really enjoyed all the songs, even though the characters didn't sing them. They're energetic and upbeat and fun to listen to even outside of the context of the story.
That being said, though, my favorite song from the movie is one of the ones the characters actually perform. I'm a sucker for musical numbers that take their musical cues from what is physically happening in the scene -- such as, in this case, discovering that destroying various objects in rhythm is fun. (I wrote a lot about this in my musical spotlight of The Music Man, where a lot of the songs do this.) The song is short, but fun... and the a capella pop cover by Phil Collins and N*Sync is actually one of my very favorite silly pick-me-up songs.
Favorite song: "Trashin' the Camp."
(songs by Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez)
This one might be a bit cliched to pick at the moment, as everyone and their dog is in love with Frozen, but I really do think this is the first great Disney soundtrack we've had in years, after the disappointingly bland Tangled (c'mon, Alan Menken, you are MUCH better than that) and the fun-but-not-memorable The Princess and the Frog (it's less surprising that Randy Newman's score wasn't awesome). I've loved Robert Lopez's theater work, so it's not at all surprising that I fell in love with the songs he and his wife pulled together for this.
It's not all about "Let It Go," though. "In Summer" is just the right length to be a funny, entertaining sidekick song without getting annoying, "Love Is An Open Door" is a perfect tribute to Disney love ballads, and "Frozen Heart" captured my attention right from the beginning of the movie. Great stuff.
Favorite song: ...Yeah, it's still "Let It Go." I don't know anyone doesn't love that song.
6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
(songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz)
It's not as all-around solid as some of the later additions on this list, but a few of the songs in here are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous... not to mention "A Guy Like You," which, despite my hatred for the existence of the gargoyles in this movie, is one of my favorite songs on the soundtrack. It's just so much fun to dance and sing along with.
Aside from that one song (which, though delightful, doesn't really fit in with the rest of the soundtrack... much as the gargoyles don't fit with the rest of the movie), the score has a lovely dark tone to it, creating a beautifully atmospheric backdrop for the story.
Favorite song: "Out There."
5. A Goofy Movie
(songs by Tom Snow, Jack Feldman, Patrick DeRemer & Roy Freeland)
I mentioned my unusual love for these songs on my Disney guy songs blog, and it's still true. Aside from the not-as-awesome-as-the-rest "On the Open Road" (though I still go through spurts where I thoroughly enjoy it), the songs featured in the movie are some of my very favorites to listen to. There are two Michael Jackson-esque pop songs that are infectiously catchy and then two more typical Disneyesque songs that I love with pretty much all my heart.
This ends up being a weirdly hard one to defend because, first, the movie itself is not so great and, second, nobody but me seems to actually enjoy the songs. But I still love it, and it makes me feel cool to have a less traditional pick in my list, since the top four on my list are unlikely to surprise anyone.
Favorite song: "After Today." Maybe my #1 Disney song ever. EVER. It is almost impossible for me to still feel sad after listening to that song.
4. The Little Mermaid
(songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman)
Alan Menken in the eighties and nineties was freaking AWESOME. The Little Mermaid has not only some of the most iconic Disney songs, but also truly some of the best. "Poor Unfortunate Souls" is a really fantastic villain song, "Part of Your World" is probably the best I-want-more-out-of-life song Disney's ever produced, and "Les Poissons," although short, is hilarious.
And, of course, we can't forget my favorite song from the show, which gave us one of the most tremendously entertaining animated song sequences of all time. The lyrics are clever, the music is fun, it builds from a funky little number into an enormous sing-along involving, apparently, the entire population of the ocean. It's a delightful song that always put a smile on my face.
Favorite song: Well, if you hadn't guessed by now, you probably haven't seen the movie. It's "Under the Sea."
(songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice)
This one went back and forth with The Little Mermaid as to which was going to be #3 and which was going to be #4. In the end, though, this one came out on top, because while "A Whole New World" isn't as good a ballad as "Part of Your World," the fun songs in this are just so much fun. "Friend Like Me" is entertaining, though Robin Williams' many-voiced performance is a little much, "Prince Ali" has wonderful lyrics and a wonderful grandiose feel to it...
The cream of the crop, however, was yet another one mentioned in my Best Guy Disney Songs blog, a fast-paced, energetic, delightful song that follows Aladdin as he runs through the streets of Agrabah. It captures the sense of adventurous playfulness that is at the heart of not only Aladdin himself, but the entire movie. The only thing missing from this soundtrack is a great villain song.
Favorite song: "One Jump Ahead."
2. The Lion King
(songs by Elton John and Tim Rice)
OK, let me preface this by saying I don't like "Hakuna Matata" much. I think it's fun but there's not a lot of actual song to the song -- it's like 90% just repeating the catchy chorus over and over with dialogue in between. However, all the other songs on this soundtrack are so good that it just kept scooting its way up until it was in second place.
"Circle of Life" is one of my favorite opening movie songs ever. It perfectly sets the tone for the majestic opening scene, and the gorgeous animation matches it beautifully. It's just a breathtakingly great way to start off the movie. Usually I'd be uninterested in a pop ballad like "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," but it works perfectly in the movie's context, and I've grown to really love its simple melody. And "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" is so cheerful and fun and captures the feel of being young and (stupidly) carefree.
But best of all is The Best Disney Villain Song Of All Time. Ever. Gives me chills every time I watch the clip.
Favorite song: "Be Prepared."
1. Beauty and the Beast
(songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman)
Yup, the Menken/Ashman team managed to create three amazing movie soundtracks in four years, but this one is by far my favorite. There's not a single song here I don't really, really love. The title song is simple and elegant and beautiful. There are two amazing villain songs -- one comedic and one dramatic, and it's always a toss-up which one I'll love more on any given day. "Be Our Guest" is pretty much the definition of a show-stopping number. Even "Belle," which is a little bit lower if I were to put all the songs in order, is a wonderfully energetic number that does a great job of introducing us to our main character and who she is in the context of her world.
The lyrics are intelligent and fun, the music is memorable and gorgeous and delightful, and I have perhaps never had more fun being part of an ensemble than when I got to be in this show and hear these songs every night. There truly is a magic to them for me.
Favorite song: Guys, I'm not even sure I can choose one. So for now I'm going to go with "Beauty and the Beast," because I haven't had a lot of songs sung by girls on this list and it is so pretty.
Which ones would be on your list?