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Ten Deep 1.09.14: Top 20 Disney Movie Songs (#20 - 11)
Posted by Mike Gorman on 01.09.2014

" Top Twenty Disney Movie Songs: #20 - #11"

This past weekend I was at a bowling alley with friends enjoying a really trashy night of neon glow in the dark "rock and bowl." Seems innocent enough, no? About halfway through the night the already truly odd video playlist latched on to a Disney movie soundtrack type vibe that spawned an interesting discussion of which Disney movie songs were the best and the inevitable suggestion that I tackle the topic in my column. My response to the prompt was "No problem, great idea!" and the next day I started my brainstorming in earnest. Soon I discovered that there was simply no way I could limit this list to 10 songs. I was however able to talk myself down from doing a Top Fifty or Top Thirty list, and settled comfortably on twenty.

That's right, this week you get the first half of a two part column. Over the next two weeks we will get to the songs that I think added to the experience of their films and deserve some recognition. These first ten definitely are the most diverse of the bunch when it comes to which areas of the Disney genre they spring from and you will see that as we jump right to number 20.

20. "Seize the Day" from Newsies

Long time readers know that I am a huge fan of the movie Newsies but you also know I am willing to admit the film was a critical flop and has its weak points. "Seize the Day" is not one of those weak moments though. The song is a true rally call for the newsboys as they embark upon a new adventure standing up for their rights against the publishers. Another plus, the song limits the solo time for Christian Bale, which once you hear him sing, you will realize is a very good thing.

19. "I'll Make A Man Out of You" from Mulan

Disney's Mulan uses a tried and true comedic trope, hidden gender identity, to take an animated look at the truly deep cultural issues surrounding gender that existed during the time frame of the film's setting. "I'll Make A Man Out of You" teases Mulan's masquerade and serves as a turning point for Captain Li Shang's trainees. The scene in the film is a classic training montage where Mulan is shown to use her creativity to conquer the challenges at hand inspiring everyone around her to excel.

18. "You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan

In their take on Tarzan, Disney puts a big focus on the two worlds that Tarzan swings through; that of the humans and his animal family. This should come as no surprise really as it is the fuzzy animals that talk and sing that tend to make Disney their money. In "You'll Be in My Heart" the connection between the baby Tarzan and his primate clan is cemented and shown to grow stronger as he grows and eventually must reconnect with his human side.

17. "He's A Tramp" from Lady and the Tramp

"He's A Tramp" is not only a lesson for the titular Lady in Disney's Lady and the Tramp but it was also a chance for the film to put the spotlight on a famous musician who wrote and performed many of the film's most famous songs, namely sultry singer Peggy Lee. The song was so well received that it was nominated for the American Film Institute's "100 years...100 songs."

16. "That's How You Know" from Enchanted

Enchanted was Disney's self-produced spoof of their princess genre. Maybe spoof is too harsh because in the end the film seemed to be more about proving the relevancy of Disney magic in today's world rather than mocking it. In the film an animated princess is exiled to the live action modern way world and she must learn a few lessons about where she belongs as the movie progresses. "That's How You Know" is the show stopping song most Disney films feature with an over the top sequence that is usually only possible in animated form, but here they make it happen in the real world and it is a great success.

15. "Cruella De Vil" from 101 Dalmatians

One thing that stood out when I was researching this week's topic is the fact that most rankings of Disney movie songs tend to leave out the villains for some reason. Yet it is the villains that have some of the most fun and vibrant songs in their films. This is very true of "Cruella De Vil" from 101 Dalmatians as it lets the audience know everything they need to about this dastardly woman and her goals, without pulling any punches.

14. "What's This?" from The Nightmare Before Christmas

From the get go in The Nightmare Before Christmas we are presented with the question of whether or not Jack Skellington is an actual villain or if he is just misunderstood. "What's This?" takes us into Jack's world and his mind as we get to see his wonder discovering Christmastown and all it encompasses. Danny Elfman infused a true sense of whimsy and discovery into this song making it one of the film's best.

13. "You Can Fly" from Peter Pan

For me, my love of the song "You Can Fly" from Peter Pan is due mostly to how the classic song captures the moment it is featured in the film so successfully. This is the moment when the Darling children fly for the first time. It is full of magic and adventure, and so is this song. It's rhythm and the way it builds to a crescendo reflect the discovery the children make as they leap into the air following the forever young Pan off to Neverland.

12. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins

First I want you to know that I correctly spelled the title of this song without the help of Google. I am proud of this accomplishment so let me have my moment. Next, let's get into how the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" encapsulates everything that is wonderful about the film Mary Poppins and the characters within it. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is a tool for thinking outside of the box and expressing yourself when you just don't know how you should in any given circumstance. That is one of the many lesson's Mary wanted to teach the children to prepare them for what life might throw their way as they grow up.

And to end part one of our countdown…

11. "Let It Go" from Frozen

Now that we are finally getting to this song I can admit that the success of Frozen at the box office again this past weekend was also one of the big inspirations for this two part countdown. If you have not yet gone to see this movie I highly encourage you to do so as soon as you can. The movie is a bit off the traditional Disney path as it doesn't really feature a specific evil villain although there is an Ice Queen. In "Let It Go" the frosty Elsa embraces the ice powers that make her different and in doing so provided us all with an anthem for anyone who feels a bit different themselves. "Let It Go" is just one of many fantastic songs on the Frozen soundtrack but for me it definitely stands out as the best. There are a few versions out there but for me the best is the one performed by Elsa herself, Idina Menzel. You may recognize Idina from the original casts of Wicked & Rent on Broadway or TV's Glee. She brings her powerful voice to this beautiful song.

And that brings us to the end of Part One of my Disney Movie Song countdown. Next week we will get to the Top Ten songs and see if I did leave off any of your personal favorites!

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