For this week's film Friday, I turned to my 12-year-old since she was done with her digital learning homework and I wanted to mentally check out for the long weekend. So I asked her to give me the best song in every Disney movie, and when I say "every Disney movie" I don't actually mean every Disney movie since there are more than 400 of them. And even if you cut it down to Walt Disney Animation Studios, you're looking at 58 films. So we picked 25 of those 58 since she hasn't seen all of them (no Pixar movies included, which is a shame considering Randy Newman's great work on the Toy Story films). But here we go.
Lion King: Hakuna Matata: Lion King has the greatest collection of songs in any Disney movie, so this isn't an easy call. My daughter went with Hakuna Matata, and there's nothing wrong with that, although I would have gone with Jeremy Irons' more sinister "Be Prepared." If you want to listen to a bad version of Hakuna Matata, the Baha Men have you covered.
Beauty and the Beast: Be Our Guest: Alan Menken is Mr. Disney, and this is one of the best songs in the deep catalog. Menken also composed "Gaston," which would have been my pick for this movie because it is so outrageously pompous. But you can't go wrong with "Be Our Guest."
Little Mermaid: Part of your World: I'm a fan of any song with the word "thingamabob," which this song includes. But there is a deep meaning to the lyrics of the song, a feeling of trying to belong in a world you can't exist in. My pick for this movie would have been "Under the Sea" followed by "Kiss the Girl." Under the Sea is a top-five Disney song.
Aladdin: Friend Like Me: Disney could not have picked a better person to play the genie than Robin Williams, and while he's not a great singer, he does the job with "Friend Like Me," which is the introduction of the genie to moviegoers. Williams also does a great job with "Prince Ali," which would have been my pick for this movie just ahead of "A Whole New World."
Moana: We Know The Way: This song, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, is one of Disney's most catchy. It also pays homage to Polynesian culture. Moana is a top-five Disney movie in terms of songs, so there are plenty to pick from here, including "You're Welcome" and "Shiny," which is my favorite in the movie (sung by the great Jemaine Clement)
Zootopia: Try Everything: I'm a big Shakira fan. I predicted she would out-shine Jennifer Lopez in last year's Super Bowl halftime show and was proven correct. She's exceptionally talented, and Zootopia is one of Disney's most underrated movies with a handful of excellent songs (I'm a big Jason Bateman fan). Shakira knocks this song out of the park.
Frozen: Do You Want to Build a Snowman? I really wish this song was called, "What's your interest level in building a snowman today?" I think that would flow better lyrically. But I'm glad my daughter picked this song over, "Let It Go," which is too screechy for my taste. Olaf's "In Summer" probably would have been my pick. Frozen does have some solid songs. But than Frozen II.
Frozen II: Lost In The Woods: You don't see a lot of 1980s power ballads in Disney movies, so this one definitely stood out, and it didn't include Idina Menzel, which is a huge win. This song was sung by Jonathan Groff, but I could see Peter Cetera belting it out.
Tangled: I've Got A Dream: Disney has made a ton of great movies, but Tangled might be my favorite. It doesn't get rated as high as it deserves. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi do a great job in the roles of Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder. "I've Got A Dream" is an excellent song, and it's true. No matter how different we are, we all have a dream we want to achieve.
Coco: Remember Me: Coco is one of Disney's most visually beautiful movies, and "Remember Me" is the most well-known song in the movie (it pops up several times during the movie). My favorite song in the movie comes at the end when Miguel sings "Proud Corazón," although it's hard to beat Miguel singing "Remember Me" to his great grandma so she can remember her dad.
Mulan: I'll Make A Man Out Of You: Disney just released a live-action Mulan and it apparently does not have this song in it, which is a tragedy. "I'll Make A Man Out Of You," which is sung by Donny Osmond, which is funny to me for some reason, is a top-five Disney movie song. Mulan doesn't have a ton of good songs, so this one really stands out.
The Princess and the Frog: Almost There: I've only seen The Princess and the Frog once, so I will defer to my daughter on this one since she recently watched it and said this was by far her favorite song in the movie. She said she likes it because it's catchy and it's about working hard for your goals.
Tarzan: Two Worlds: This is another top-five Disney movie in terms of songs. You can't go wrong with giving Phil Collins free reign to cover your movie with his musical genius. In addition to "Two Worlds," he also delivered gems with "Strangers Like Me," "Waiting For This Moment," "You'll Be In My Heart" and "Son of Man."
Hercules: I Can Go The Distance: Hercules was a miss for me. I've only seen it a couple of times, but it's not one of Disney's better movies, and the songs leave something to be desired. But this is the song my daughter picked for this movie.
Pocahontas: Colors of the Wind: Pocahontas coming sharp with the lyrics on this one, and I love it: "You think I'm an ignorant savage/And you've been so many places/I guess it must be so/But still I cannot see/If the savage one is me/How can there be so much that you don't know/You think you own whatever land you land on/The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim/But I know every rock and tree and creature/Has a life, has a spirit, has a name/You think the only people who are people/Are the people who look and think like you/But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger/You'll learn things you never knew you never knew." Great song.
The Jungle Book: Bare Necessities: The original Jungle Book and the 2016 live action remake are both awesome, and two songs stand out above the rest. This first is "Bare Necessities," which got my daughter's vote. The other is King Louie's, "I Wanna Be Like You," which I would have voted for. The Christopher Walken version of this song is downright haunting.
Lilo & Stitch: Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride: My son recently got into Lilo & Stitch, so I've heard this song way too many times over the last couple of weeks. But it's not bad.
The Aristocats: Everybody Wants To Be a Cat: You don't hear a lot of jazz-inspired songs in Disney movies, so this 1970 song is a classic. I will disagree with the premise, though. I'd rather be a dog than a cat unless we're talking about big cats. I'd like to be a tiger or a lion. But a domestic cat? I'll take a pass.
Pinocchio: When You Wish Upon A Star: My son also watched this movie for the first time last month and loves one scene in particular that he re-watches over and over. It's actually the scene right after this song plays. But this might be the most iconic nighttime lullaby ever written.
Snow White: Some Day My Prince Will Come: The is the first movie made by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It was released Dec. 21, 1937 and has a couple of excellent songs, my favorites being "Heigh-Ho" and "Whistle While You Work."
101 Dalmatians: Cruella de Vil: Of Disney's pre-1970s movies, my favorites are 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book. The main character in 101 Dalmatians is Roger Radcliffe, a songwriter who lives in London with his pet dalmatian Pongo, so you need good songs if his job is a songwriter, and he delivers with Cruella de Vil.
Sleeping Beauty: An Unusual Prince/Once Upon a Dream: Many of the songs from the Disney movies made in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s sound similar to me, and this one fits the category (Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959). It's not my jam, but they are classic songs.
Robin Hood: Oo-De-Lally: There aren't many Disney songs that are inspired by folk, so I'm down for this one. It's a little short for my liking but still good. I'd like to see a three-minute version of this song like they produce in more modern Disney movies.
Dumbo: Baby Mine: Disney Animation Studios' fourth film, Dumbo was released in 1941, and this scene in the movie is heartbreaking for any parent who would have to imagine their child being taken away from them.
Cinderella: A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes: Pinocchio's "When You Wish Upon A Star" is the best Disney song from the studio's first 15 movies, but this one is a close second.