Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The 5 Most Depressing Disney Songs

Disney songs are known for being inspirational like "When You Wish Upon a Star" or fun and cute like "Hakuna Matata"... they're not usually known for being depressing. But every so often, there'll be a Disney song that will just encompass a hopeless, dark worldview. Here are five that I think perfectly showcase the darker side of Disney.

5. "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2

While Disney has plenty of songs about sad situations, a lot of them lean toward the hopeful -- songs like "Goodbye May Seem Forever" from The Fox and the Hound and "Someone's Waiting for You" from The Rescuers are both in the middle of dark scenes, but both of them focus less on the horribleness of the situation and more on hoping for something better or dealing with the pain. "When She Loved Me" is just all, "NOW EVERYTHING IS THE WORST." And getting Sarah McLachlan to sing this song was just perfect, because nobody can make a song horrifically sad like Sarah McLachlan.

Most depressing lyrics:
So the years went by, I stayed the same
But she began to drift away, I was left alone
Still I waited for the day, when she’d say "I will always love you."

4. "Very Good Advice" from Alice in Wonderland

The Disney version of Alice in Wonderland is less whimsical adventure and more trippy nightmare, but even when it's creepy it's usually not sad... until this moment. Alice's lament at her inability to do the right thing is a heartbreaking expression of self-destruction. It's a particularly weird song to have in the middle of this movie. Nothing like stopping your story of a feisty and independent young girl exploring a strange world to have her suddenly lament that she is too fundamentally broken to do the right thing. And it's not like the consequences of this have been all that bad thus far -- if I recall the movie's sequence correctly, she hasn't even yet encountered the queen who kills people on a whim -- so this is all about Alice's inner turmoil and self-loathing. Sheesh, Disney.

Most depressing lyrics:
Well I went along my merry way
And I never stopped to reason
I should have know there'd be a price to pay

3. "I Will Go Sailing No More" from Toy Story

While "When She Loved Me" might have been sadder, this one is more depressing because it's about something lost internally, not externally. This is the song of Buzz's existential crisis, where his entire concept of who he is has been shattered to pieces. He thought he had a big huge purpose in life only to discover that his sole purpose is being a children's toy. This does try to put in the characteristic Disney optimism, but then that falls apart as well, and the final, "Clearly, I will go sailing no more" is all about Buzz defeatedly accepting his fate, not because he has chosen to, but because he's beaten down and has no will to resist anymore.

Most depressing lyrics:
All the things I thought I'd be
All the brave things I've done
Vanish like a snowflake
With the rising of the sun

2. "Home Sweet Home" from Lady and the Tramp

If you don't recognize the name of this song, that's because it has no lyrics. This is the song all the dogs howl at the pound before Lady shows up and Peggy Lee sings jazzy tunes at her. This is the song that serves no purpose except to remind us how freaking miserable everything is in here. And then the following scene emphasizes over and over again that, yeah, most of these dogs are probably going to die, and the ones that don't today are living in constant fear of their lives. I don't even like dogs or dog movies, and I still find this one incredibly uncomfortable.

1. "No Way Out" from Brother Bear

This just sounds like a bland little song of regret until you listen to the lyrics and realize how completely hopeless they are. Phil Collins tries to toss in a note of hope at the very end of the chorus when he says, "I will find another way, I will face another day," but, uh, nope, you can't fool us, you've just spent the whole song telling us there is no way (for Pete's sake, you even titled your song about it) and that there is no freedom for you. All the hopelessness in the song makes that attempt at optimism just feel like desperately grasping at straws, and I don't buy it for a second. It's not noble, it's not inspirational, it's just line after line of constant wallowing in despair.

Most depressing lyrics:
Well, all of it except for the last 2 lines. But I guess I'd have to go with this...

There's no way out of this dark place
No hope, no future
I know I can't be free

Well, those are my picks. What do you think are the most depressing Disney songs of all time? And for any of you about to say "Let It Go," you're wrong. :-P


  1. "Aloha Oe" from Lilo & Stitch always gets me. :(

  2. When Josiah was little, "I will go sailing no more" was one of his favorite songs. He would sing it while reenacting the moment Buzz realizes he can't fly. It was both adorable and devastating.

    1. The only thing that would make that song more depressing would be having a child sing it. I guess he has accomplished that.

  3. The Toy Story movies are filled with insanely depressing songs. lol

    I always thought 'God Help the Outcasts' was depressing from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I suppose it could be seen as uplifting, but I found it to be really sad.

    1. That one was on the shortlist. It very nearly made the final cut, but it was just a little too abstractly sad.

  4. I always thought "Kill the Beast" was a bit disturbing and depressing; it's a guy leading a bunch of people to barge into a castle and slaughter everyone inside. Sure, it's the villain that sings it, but, still, it's not one I'd want to listen to again and again.

    1. Yeah, I ended up drawing a line between depressing and dark. The Mob Song is *very* dark (though one of my favorites from the movie), but it doesn't make me particularly sad for anyone. Disney does some fantastically dark villain songs though!