A hallmark of everyone’s childhood, animated Disney songs have endured for nearly 80 years of cinema, and remain just as beloved today. So, of the countless hits released, let’s find out which are the top 10 best Disney songs of all time.
10. Hakuna Matata – The Lion King (1994)
Relentlessly catchy, massively uplifting and a huge amount of fun to listen to, Hakuna Matata is one of the quintessential Disney songs.
Halfway through The Lion King, Simba is forced into exile and comes across meerkat and warthog buddies Timon and Pumbaa, who teach him the saying: ‘Hakuna Matata’ (It means no worrries!) in a burst of song. In this scene, we see Simba grow up and become a man, now living without fear in the heart of the jungle.
It’s a classic song, and you all know the words, but its uplifting nature just makes it that extra special, and, despite a couple of breaks for dialogue in the middle of the number, it’s a simple pick for this top 10.
9. I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – The Lion King (1994)
And with these first two picks, I think we’ve already proved that The Lion King has one of the best soundtracks in all of Disney history. However, just above Hakuna Matata, the upbeat I Just Can’t Wait To Be King jumps in.
Early on in the movie, Simba and Nala are being told about the duties of being king of the prideland by Mufasa’s right-hand hornbill Zazu. Simba immediately decides that he’s going to be different, and starts singing away about his ambitions to be the best king Africa has ever seen.
Combined with an epic group of backing singers, portrayed on screen as various different animals from the local ecosystem, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King is full of energy from start to finish, and provides great laughs all the same as we see Simba fighting with the pessimistic Zazu (played by none other than Rowan Atkinson).
8. When You Wish Upon A Star – Pinocchio (1940)
While the films will always remain essentially the same, Disney songs have evolved with the ages, and although a lot of the classics do feel a little dated now, there’s still something wonderfully magical about a lot of them that you can’t resist.
And the best of all the classic era songs is When You Wish Upon A Star from 1940’s Pinocchio. Playing over the opening and end credits, and sung by Pinocchio’s best friend Jiminy Cricket, it’s a wonderfully pleasant and wishful song about dreams coming true, sung in a truly genuine way that so many modern songs just don’t manage to replicate.
7. I Wanna Be Like You – The Jungle Book (1967)
Yet another film with a near-perfect soundtrack, 1967’s The Jungle Book. Full of all the colourful characters of the jungle, in the song I Wanna Be Like You, we get a look at monkey king Louie, who begs mancub Mowgli to teach him how to be a real man, and not a monkey.
It’s a song that fits in perfectly with the vibe of The Jungle Book. Zany, vibrant and upbeat, and with a distinctly 1960s vibe to it, you’ll be grooving to the beat of I Wanna Be Like You within seconds, as well as laughing your socks off with the hilarious entrance of Baloo ‘disguised’ as another monkey into a duet with King Louie.
6. A Whole New World – Aladdin (1992)
I’ll admit it, I’m not the biggest fan of Aladdin, but I can’t deny that the main song, A Whole New World, is an absolute classic.
After managing to woo Princess Jasmine with his disguise as the wealthy Ali, Aladdin takes her on a breathtaking ride across the city on his magic carpet. Accompanied by the perfectly-balanced duet between the two, A Whole New World is a staggeringly beautiful song that’s both catchy and hugely emotional.
And who cares if Aladdin’s faking being a rich prince? In the few minutes when they’re singing together about seeing this whole new world, it’s just so therapeutic to completely lose yourself in the moment.
5. Bear Necessities – The Jungle Book (1967)
Ever wanted a good pick-me-up? Then ‘Bear Necessities’ from The Jungle Book is exactly the song for you.
Effortlessly catchy and enjoyable, Baloo the Bear’s song about forgetting about your worries and your strife is an absolute classic enjoyed by people of all ages. Combined with a swinging beat, you’ve got yourself one of the most memorable and beloved Disney songs of all time, that will still be a hit in a hundred years time.
4. Can You Feel The Love Tonight – The Lion King (1994)
All Disney films have their main themes, as well as a few slow-moving, emotional tunes to advance whatever romance is happening in the plot. Generally, those aren’t as memorable, but a huge exception to that is the legendary ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ from The Lion King.
After Simba and Nala meet for the first time in years, the two almost instantly fall in love as the song plays out over a montage of them getting to know one another again. None of us really know the words to the song apart from the title line, but it’s the iconic combination of the lullaby-esque lyrics and the African backing singers that make this such a stand-out Disney song.
3. Reflection – Mulan (1998)
From the film with, in my opinion, the best soundtrack in Disney history, comes one of the most powerful and eye-catching songs of all: Mulan‘s ‘Reflection’.
After dishonouring her family during a disastrous audition to be a bride, Mulan returns home filled with disappointment and confusion. The song begins with her looking into a pond at her reflection, covered in make-up from the audition. ‘Reflection’ is all about the fact that she doesn’t recognise herself in that guise, and so she begins to break free as the song builds to a brilliant climax.
It’s short, powerful and pleasant to listen to, and that’s why you can’t deny how good a song Reflection is.
2. Let It Go – Frozen (2013)
Yes, I know it’s been played to death over the last couple of years and you’re fed up with it now, but remember back to late 2013, when Frozen was released. ‘Let It Go’ was a proper Disney song, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in years, and that’s why it’s become the pop culture powerhouse you know today.
It may be another song about letting go of your worries, but it’s surely the most powerful of all. With stunning vocals from Idina Menzel, coupled with uplifting and unbelievably catchy lyrics, Let It Go is a classic show tune that absolutely defines the most successful Disney film of all time, and does everything that a Disney song should do perfectly.
1. I’ll Make A Man Out Of You – Mulan (1998)
Voted the number one best Disney song of all time by an official Disney poll, and my personal favourite ever since I was young, ‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’ from Mulan is the perfect Disney song.
For one, it’s a great song on its own. It’s got fun lyrics, great vocals, and a quick pace that makes it a lot more entertaining than many of the other show tunes in Disney movies. However, it’s also brilliant because it fits in perfectly in the context of the film.
After Mulan arrives at the barracks disguised as a man, she struggles to fit in. However, with the introduction of this song, we get one of the greatest movie training montages ever (right up there with Rocky), that advances the plot along rapidly, and gives us a hugely entertaining watch in the process.
I’ve probably seen Mulan more times than any other film, and I can still say that, whilst it’s all brilliant, the thing I look forward to most is this song, and that’s why it has to be the best Disney song of all time.