10 Best Disney Animated Classics Soundtracks
The touchstone for any great Disney animated movie is its musical soundtrack. There are so many great soundtracks out there and it was hard to just pick 10. But, to me, these are the best of them. I just couldn't put them in an order from best to worst because I think they are all winners. What are your favorite soundtracks? Let us know in the comments.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid's soundtrack was a triumph for Disney. It also marks the beginning of the storied career at Disney for Alan Menken. And, it introduced the mainstream world to the wonderful and genius lyrics of Howard Ashman. "Part of Your World" would go on to become the template for Disney princess yearning songs moving forward. The upbeat reggae tones of "Under The Sea" and "Kiss The Girl" was wonderfully pastiche. The Little Mermaid was nominated for two Best Original Songs in "Under The Sea" and "Kiss The Girl," winning for "Under The Sea." Menken also won for Best Original Score.
Beauty and the Beast
If there ever was a Disney animated classic meant to be a Broadway show, it is Beauty and the Beast. And, it inevitably was. But, you just watch the film from its beginning with the ensemble piece "Belle" and you are instantly transported to New York City into one of its finest theaters. Beauty and the Beast proved that Disney was not just a wasteland of silly tunes, but could both convey the plot of the movie through some thrilling tunes. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Original Song, including "Belle," "Be Our Guest," and "Beauty and the Beast." It won for "Beauty and the Beast" and Alan Menken won for Best Original Score.
Mulan might not have a large soundtrack, but it does have a memorable one, particularly in the yearning song "Reflection" (popularized by Christina Aguilera) and the battle song "I'll Make A Man Out Of You." But, I, personally love "Honor To Us All" which uses more traditional Chinese instruments. The film was nominated for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score, but disappointingly lost. Still, this does not detract from the beauty of the soundtrack.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with Opetaia Foa'i and Mark Mancina, brought different styles of music to Moana, from the more traditional rhythmic Polynesian sound of "We Know The Way" to the more modern rap of "You're Welcome." But, it's "How Far I'll Go" that captured the hearts of people everywhere as an ultimately better song than Frozen's "Let It Go." Miranda was nominated for Best Original Song for "How Far I'll Go."
Pocahontas genuinely has one of Disney's best animated soundtracks and truly is a triumph for Stephen Schwartz. I might even dare to say that it is his finest work ever. And I loved Wicked. But, I ultimately sing "Colors of the Wind" more than anything. "Just Around The Riverbend" is another wonderful song from the film that conveys Pocahontas at a crossroads in her life. The movie also contains great plot driven songs such as "Savages" which shows both sides fearing each other for their differences. Pocahontas went on to win Academy Awards for Best Original Song ("Colors of the Wind") as well as Best Original Musical or Comedy Score.
The Lion King
The Lion King is considered, by many, to have the best score of any animated feature. The music was written by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice with a score by Hans Zimmer. The diversity of the soundtrack is quite wonderful. You have the lush African inspired "Circle of Life" featuring Lebo M, the yearning song of "I Just Can't Wait To Be King," the love song of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," and the traditional Disney upbeat song of "Hakuna Matata." The film was nominated for three Best Original Songs, including "Circle of Life," "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," and "Hakuna Matata," winning for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." Zimmer also won for Best Original Score.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The most complex of Disney's animated soundtracks is unarguably The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While the soundtrack, with the exception of "Out There," lacks catchy tunes, you cannot say it isn't ambitious, full of emotionally complicated pieces. I defy you to listen to "Hellfire" and tell me that this is your standard Disney fare. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz did win an Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score.
The sweetest of all Disney's animated soundtracks is, perhaps, 1950's Cinderella. There is a purity to Ilene Woods's voice, especially when she sings "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes." "So This Is Love" is a wonderful love ballad, but the catchiest tune goes to the Fairy Godmother's "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo." It is classic Disney all the way. The song also was nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song. Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith were nominated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Perhaps the most lush sounding of Disney's animated soundtracks is 1959's Sleeping Beauty, adapted from Tchaikovsky's famous ballet of the same name. "Once Upon A Dream" is one of Disney's loveliest yearning songs. The score balances the wonder and beauty of Aurora, the whimsy of the Three Fairies and the evil of Maleficent. When Phillip battles the dragon in the bramble, the score fires on all cylinders. George Bruns was nomated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Tarzan is an interesting choice as it's not a traditional musical. But, one cannot deny the beauty of Phil Collins's work in this film. "You'll Be In My Heart" is one of the most wonderful anthem of a mother's love for her child. "Two Worlds, One Family" really connects Tarzan's life among the apes with his legacy of his human family. The film did go on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "You''ll Be In My Heart."