While 2013’s Frozen had a brilliant run on social media, inspiring cover after cover of its hit single “Let It Go,” and dominating the Billboard 200 for 13 nonconsecutive weeks, where does it stack up in comparison to Disney’s many other installations? Check out the 33 best animated Disney soundtracks below.
33. Ratatouille (2007)
32. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
31. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
30. James and the Giant Peach (1996)
29. Dumbo (1941)
28. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
27. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
26. Cinderella (1950)
25. Fantasia (1940)
24. Peter Pan (1953)
23. Tangled (2010)
22. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
21. Coco (2017)
20. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
19. A Goofy Movie (1995)
18. Oliver & Company (1988)
17. Brave (2012)
16. The Aristocats (1970)
15. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
14. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
13. Pinocchio (1940)
12. Frozen (2013)
11. Toy Story (1995)
10. The Jungle Book (1967)
We all know “The Bare Necessities,” but we don’t give enough credit to the rest of the film’s score. From the moptop vultures’ (their similarity to the boys from Liverpool is no accident) barbershop “That’s What Friends Are For,” to the languid slither of “Trust In Me” and swing of “I Wan’na Be like You,” each song plays an integral part in pushing the film’s narrative forward. But also, those simple bare necessities…
9. Mulan (1998)
Did you forget that we have Mulan to thank for an otherwise inconceivable collaboration in 98° and Stevie Wonder’s “True to Your Heart”? Oh, and we got Donny Osmond’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and Lea Salonga’s (also the voice of Jasmine in Aladdin) “Reflection,” which earned itself a pop rendition courtesy of Christina Aguilera. We just wish “Written in Stone” had made the film’s final cut.
8. Moana (2016)
How did Lin-Manuel Miranda take on the challenge of following up Frozen‘s “Let It Go”? He locked himself in his childhood bedroom in order to retap the desires and uncertainties he felt as a 16-year-old, the same age as Moana‘s lead. And we have to say it: “How Far I’ll Go” is the better track of the two, despite it failing to incur the same internet frenzy as its predecessor. The soundtrack itself peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200, The Weeknd’s Starboy managing to hold it out of the top spot, and assured us that Dwayne Johnson’s talents know no bounds. The true legacy of Moana‘s soundtrack will be determined in the years to come, but we have a feeling it will only move higher on this list.
7. Tarzan (1999)
Two things happened in 1999 that marked a significant comeback in Phil Collins’ career: he briefly reunited with Genesis and he recorded the soundtrack for Tarzan. Truthfully, it was mostly the latter that mattered. “You’ll Be in My Heart” spent 19 weeks atop the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, won Best Song at the Oscars and Golden Globes (it somehow lost the Grammy to Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger” from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, although Collins did take home Best Soundtrack Album), and was even performed during 2000 Super Bowl halftime show. Phil Collins forever.
6. The Little Mermaid (1989)
You might not recognize the name Samuel E. Wright, but it’s thanks to his buoyant performance of the Calypso-styled track as Sebastian the crab that we learned that “the seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake.” Based on “The Beautiful Briny” from Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, “Under the Sea” had us all wishing we could leave our land-based lives of whozits and whatzits galore behind, while Wright’s other contribution, “Kiss the Girl,” was enough to win over the most cootie-hardened hearts. Let’s just try not to think about the sinister dynamics behind “Les Poissons.”
5. Aladdin (1992)
Only once has an original Disney song been selected as the Song of the Year at the Grammys, and that song, as you’ve probably guessed by this point, is “A Whole New World.” The ballad also supplanted Whitney Houston’s 14-week reign on the Billboard Hot 100 with “I Will Always Love You,” making it the only song from an animated Disney production to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100. While the soundtrack’s merit could almost singularly ride on the strength of such a song, we also received the unparalleled magic of the Robin Williams’ performed tunes “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali.”
4. Pocahontas (1995)
“Colors of the Wind” isn’t your typical Disney fare. It’s complex in its cadence, shifting melodies, and ebb and flow of dynamics. Its lyrics often derive from Native American poetry, pushing intricate phrases like “you’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew,” while tackling topics like animism, race relations, and colonialism. It’s arguably the most beautiful song ever written for any Disney film, and as the first song written together by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz for the film, it set the emotional tone moving forward, as evident through songs like “Just Around the Riverbend” and “Steady as the Beating Drum.”
3. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Besides the fact that the score for Beauty and the Beast won a slew of awards, even receiving an Album of the Year nod at the Grammys, and the enduring notoriety of songs like the title track and “Be Our Guest,” what sets the soundtrack apart from the rest is tragedy. After struggling to achieve success through much of the ’70s and ’80s, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman were the lifeline Disney had been desperately searching for. Between The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, this duo led one of the franchise’s most cherished eras. However, Ashamn would never finish his work on Aladdin, dying of AIDS before Beauty and the Beast had even wrapped. It was later revealed that the lyrics to “Kill the Beast” target the public’s negative perception of the gay community at that time.
2. Hercules (1997)
This is going to be a controversial choice, but bear with us here. First off, let’s talk about the Muses. Comprised of actresses Lillias White, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, and Vanéese Y. Thomas, Hercules’ narrating crew marks the first positive portrayal of African American women in a Disney animated film, delivering arc-defining numbers like the multi-part “The Gospel Truth,” “Zero to Hero,” and the closing “A Star Is Born.” Second is Meg’s “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love),” which presents a more (accurately) complicated view on love than most animated films ever allow, and could be a legitimate pop hit if it were released outside of a Disney film. Third, is the perfection that is “Go The Distance,” which not only received a cover from Michael Bolton, but also Ricky Martin. Fourth, and finally, is that we get to hear a Danny DeVito show tune while he portrays a satyr. We don’t deserve this.
1. The Lion King (1994)
Only Hercules could beat out Hercules, and Sir Elton Hercules John and his ragtag gang of Hans Zimmer and Tim Rice aren’t ones to be trifled with. Jokes aside, it’s impossible to deny the greatness of this trio, and you can hear it in every single song on The Lion King. “Circle of Life”? Hit. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”? Hit. “Hakuna Matata”? Hit… you get the point. It’s the biggest-selling animated soundtrack ever with over 7.8 million copies sold back in 2014. Every time you lift a small animal or human baby into the air, without thinking you belt out “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!”