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Ten Deep 1.16.14: Top 10 Disney Movie Songs
Posted by Mike Gorman on 01.16.2014

"Top Twenty Disney Movie Songs: #10 - #1"

Welcome to week two of Ten Deep's Top Twenty Disney Movie Songs. It's time for the final ten songs. These are the songs that we think of when someone says "Disney movie." I don't think calling many of them iconic is at all delving into hyperbole. If I had you worried last week that there might be a song missing when you saw the first ten, hopefully this week's list will assuage any fears!

10. "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid

One of the major themes of The Little Mermaid is the separation between the worlds above and below the sea, and "Part of Your World" clearly lays out how this division has impacted our heroine, Ariel. The song does something that most great Disney musical numbers do; It delivers the point of view of the film's major character and also foreshadows what is soon to come. In this case, it is foreshadowing Ariel getting everything she has wished for and learning she might regret it in the end.

9. "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast

"Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast is not only a fantastic Disney movie song but it is an equally fantastic love song. As you listen to the lyrics you can't help but cheer for the success of these star-crossed lovers. Mrs. Potts says it herself, this truly is "a tale as old as time."

8. "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio

The word that comes to mind when I think of "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio is hope. Plain, and simply, hope. Jiminy Cricket's song is about keeping hope alive in yourself long enough for your dreams to come true. And it was this notion of dreams come true that fascinated audiences in 1940 when Pinocchio was released, and still does now.

7. "Be Our Guest" from Beauty & the Beast

There are two films on this list that have scored two songs in the top ten, and Beauty & the Beast is the first we encounter. While the first song from the film on the list is indeed classic, it is "Be Our Guest" that stands out as a fun, memorable movie moment set to song. It's so memorable that Disney just unveiled a new restaurant in the Magic Kingdom based on the song. You can even try the "gray stuff" and it is delicious!

6. "You've Got a Friend In Me" from Toy Story

While I am more often want to deride Randy Newman's song stylings a la the Family Guy spoofs, in this instance I think that his work deserves some praise. "You've Got a Friend In Me" is the perfect theme song for the world Disney created in Toy Story. The song not only echoes the relationship that develops between Buzz Lightyear and Woody throughout the film, but also delves deep into the relationship between a child and their favorite toys.

5. "Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book

"Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book is one of those songs that whether or not you know all of the lyrics by heart, you spontaneously sing along every time you hear it. The song captures the fun and exuberance of Baloo and his time with Mowgli in the jungle. Their connection is strengthened in the viewers' eyes during this sequence which makes their eventual separation all the more heart wrenching.

4. "Some Day My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

"Some Day My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an interesting paradox. The song is a very interesting example of how in different times and contexts it can stand apart as one of the best in the Disney catalog and one of the often most derided. For me it is one of the most memorable and classic songs that fits perfectly into its fairytale setting while others feel now it might err a bit on the "encouraging young girls to wait for their dream ‘princes' to come along" side.

3. "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from Little Mermaid

As I said last week it is rare for villain songs to garner a lot of attention when it comes to people listing their Disney favorites but I feel like many of them stand out including "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from Little Mermaid. This song is Ursula the Sea Witch's defining moment in the film. It reeks of the charm and manipulation that infuse her character and weaves a spell on poor Ariel. As outside observers the song gives us a glimpse at the true nature of her machinations while keeping the titular little mermaid confused and off guard. It is a true diva moment for Pat Carroll, the actress portraying Ursula.

2. "A Whole New World" from Aladdin

And now we come to the most powerful duet in Disney movie history. "A Whole New World" from Aladdin is a true show stopping number that would be hard to recreate in a live action setting (though they are doing so on Broadway as we speak!). It is the moment that Aladdin and Jasmine find true love, as corny as that may seem, and their journey there is reflected in the journey of the song. It was difficult for me to decide if this song should get the top spot or be in second place, but in the end, there was one more song that I felt edged it out.

And after two weeks of anticipation, we get to the top Disney movie song…

1. "Circle of Life" from Lion King

From the opening chant to the powerhouse chorus, "Circle of Life" from Lion King is one of the most recognizable and popular Disney songs of all time. In the film "Circle of Life" sets the stage for what is to come as we enter the world of Simba and his family. It seems highly appropriate to give this song the top spot as we enter the twentieth anniversary of the film's release. And while twenty years is a long time, "Circle of Life" has such a classic feel to it that one might think it has been around much, much longer. Of all the songs on this list, I think hands down this is the one most people spontaneously sing along to, no matter where there are. I can say that I saw many people bursting into song at the bowling alley a few weeks ago, even if they did not know that meaning to the Zulu words that open it.

As a bonus, here is the opening, with the appropriate translation:

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it's a lion]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Siyo Nqoba [We're going to conquer]
Ingonyama nengw' enamabala [A lion and a leopard come to this open place]

And now the song itself…

I hope that you have enjoyed this two week trip into the music of Disney's films and that you found yourself humming along to my selections. Don't worry, next week's list will shake off the animated film sweetness and bring you some good old fashioned murderous rampages!

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