Sunday, February 10, 2019

Top 10 Disney Songs

In honor of the Grammy Awards tonight, I thought I would write on my favorite Disney songs.  I thought about just selecting my top ten favorite songs or favorite artists, but that is too hard.  So, I picked a limiting factor to make the list a little easier.  Plus the Disney list had been in the back of my brain for a little while.

Disney has a bit of a history with the Grammys.  Walt Disney won the Grammy Trustee award in 1989.  The Lion King and Aida have won Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.  Aladdin, The Lion King, Woody's Roundup, and Monsters, Inc. have won Best Musical Album for Children.   Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast all won best Album for Children.  Disney has won twelve of the last 30 awards in Best Song Written for Visual Media.  The company has around six nominations this evening.

So, with no further ado, my list of my top 10 favorite Disney songs, in no particular order.

  • I Wanna Be Like You, The Jungle Book - One of the Sherman Brothers best.  They are on this list a lot.  Walt's Boys wrote the best stretch of music for the Disney Company.  The combination of Louis Prima wild jazz and Phil Harris's style of scatting just works.  You can tell they had fun recording this.  It's just fun to hear and you cannot help but sing along.
  • God Help the Outcasts, The Hunchback of Notre Dame - I've written about this before as an underrated song and will herald it again as one of Disney's best.  The transition of the bridge where the congregants are asking for fame, wealth, glory, etc. into the opening line of the last verse where Esmeralda says "I ask for nothing" has to be one of the best bridge/verse lyrical transitions ever.
  • On the Front Porch, Summer Magic - An ode to the slow life.  Another Sherman Brothers classic, this one underrated.  Simple chords and Burl Ives at their finest.
  • Our Town, Cars - James Taylor's ode to small town life and to how it is disappearing.  Haunting lyrics with a simple melody.  One of the better songs of the recent movies.
  • So Close, Enchanted - What's amazing is how many levels this song works on.  The lyrics are wonderful using the so close/so far dichotomy to illustrate the relationship of the characters.  The style of the song works in how the progression of the movie has worked from old Disney songs that were integrated into the story compared to this modern song where it is sung by a pop artist over the action.  Well done.
  • Feed the Birds, Mary Poppins - The thesis song of the film.  The story goes that once Walt heard this song he said, "That's it, that's the film."  Afterwards, he would then call The Boys to his office and they knew it was to play this song.  A song about charity for the sake of charity.  Beautiful and rare.
  • Friend Like Me, Aladdin - This is the modern I Wanna Be Like You.  Endlessly singable.  And while Robin Williams performance in the movie is great, I love James Monroe Iglehart's version from the stage show.  Getting to see him do that was amazing.
  • The Gods Love Nubia, Aida - This is a little bit of a cheat as it has only been part of Disney Theatrical so far, but it's a great song.  Elton John and Tim Rice reconnecting for a straightforward gospel number.  In my opinion, this is one of the greatest pre-intermission songs in all of musical theater.
  • I Won't Say (I'm in Love), Hercules - My other favorite from the Renaissance period.  A do-wop number between Meg and the Muses regarding how she cannot admit to falling in love. Lyrically interesting and just a great melody. 
  • A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Cinderella - The classic Disney song.  My favorite over When You Wish, especially as it is encouraging, to keep dreaming regardless of circumstance.  Plus a better vocal range than its more used cousin.
That covers the full range of Disney films, from Walt's classics, through the Renaissance and beyond.  From animated to live action.  Even including the stage.

For Disney fans, what's on your list?

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