There’s something about Disney songs that turns even the most regular day into a mini-musical. Whether it’s humming a tune while cooking or full-on belting it out in the shower, these best Disney movie songs have a way of creeping into our lives and setting up camp. They’re the unsung heroes of road trips, the unofficial anthems of family gatherings, and sometimes, the secret tune we dance to in our PJs.
From ballads that tug at your heartstrings to toe-tappers that get your feet moving, Disney’s catalogue is an eclectic mixtape of emotions. Each song is a story, a mini escape to a world where problems can be solved in a three-minute melody, and life lessons are learned in verse and chorus. Let’s dive into some of these tunes – the ones that stick with us long after the credits roll.
Best Disney Movie Songs
Surface Pressure – Encanto (2021)
‘Surface Pressure’ feels like a coffee chat with that friend who’s always juggling a million things – relatable and a bit too real. Pretty much every responsible adult’s internal monologue with a salsa twist. Jessica Darrow delivers a performance that’s part pep talk, part confession with a beat that’s impossible not to groove to. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s knack for turning life’s pressures into catchy lyrics makes this song a modern-day anthem for anyone wearing too many hats.
Colours of the Wind – Pocahontas (1995)
When Judy Kuhn sings ‘Colors of the Wind’, it’s like a gentle reminder that the world’s a pretty awesome place. Did you know this song was almost cut from the film? Imagine a world without this classic! Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz crafted this piece not just as a song but as a gentle nudge to look at the world a little differently.
Reflection – Mulan (1998)
Lea Salonga in ‘Reflection’ is all of us on those deep-thought days. Matthew Wilder and David Zippel managed to put a whole existential crisis into a few minutes of music, and honestly, it works. It’s the song you play when you’re contemplating life choices, wondering about the road not taken, or just trying to understand your place in the world. Every time it plays, it’s like a gentle reminder that it’s okay to be a work in progress, to have more questions than answers.
Go the Distance – Hercules (1997)
‘Go the Distance’ is that motivational poster in song form – but way cooler. Whether it’s Bart’s heartfelt rendition or Bolton’s powerful cover, this track is a musical pat on the back. Alan Menken and David Zippel crafted a song that resonates deeply with anyone who’s ever felt out of place, seeking their own personal ‘Olympus’. Interestingly, this song almost didn’t make it into ‘Hercules’. The original number intended for Hercules was titled “Shooting Star”, but it was replaced with ‘Go the Distance’ to suit the character’s journey better.
Let It Go – Frozen (2013)
‘Let It Go’ is that song you pretend to be over, but deep down, you’re belting it out in your car with the same gusto as a Broadway star. Idina Menzel’s voice, combined with Anderson-Lopez and Lopez’s lyrics, is like a musical Elsa unleashing her powers. Translated into numerous languages, this tune didn’t just go global; it became a cultural touchstone, proving that sometimes, the best way to deal with life’s pressures is to… let it go.
Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid (1989)
There’s a ‘Part of Your World’ moment for everyone – minus the fins and talking crab. Mine was sitting at a desk job, staring out the window, dreaming of a more adventurous career. Jodi Benson nails this feeling of yearning for something beyond the cubicle walls. Whether you’re aspiring for a career change or just a vacation, Ariel’s longing for the unknown speaks to the adventurer in all of us. And let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to dramatically flip their hair out of a body of water at least once?
I Won’t Say (I’m in Love) – Hercules (1997)
This song is the queen of denial, and it’s hilariously relatable. Susan Egan delivers each note with a playful stubbornness that’s basically the musical equivalent of saying, “I’m absolutely not checking their social media profile every five minutes.” What sets this tune apart, though, are the backup singers – the Muses. With their gospel-like choruses, they’re like the sassy, all-knowing friends we all wish we had, giving the song that extra oomph and turning it into a groovy bop.
Circle of Life – The Lion King (1994)
Okay, so ‘Circle of Life’ does bring a bit of grandeur, but in the best way possible. John and Rice’s composition, performed masterfully by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M., sets a majestic tone for the film. It’s the soundtrack to every dramatic sunrise and sunset – even if it’s just viewed from your apartment window. The song’s a reminder of the bigger picture, something we often overlook in our busy lives.
A Whole New World – Aladdin (1992)
Every time ‘A Whole New World’ comes on, it’s an invitation to temporarily hang up the woes of reality and soar into a realm of endless possibilities – no magic lamp required. It’s got this blend of adventure and romance that has you daydreaming about soaring over skylines and sharing a shawarma with someone special. Originally, Aladdin’s character was supposed to be younger, and the song was meant to be more upbeat. However, when the character aged up, the songwriters Alan Menken and Tim Rice had to rework the tune into the sweeping ballad we know today.
Can You Feel the Love Tonight – The Lion King (1994)
Basically, this is Disney’s smooth jazz for the soul. Elton John and Tim Rice whipped up this number, turning a lion love story into something even non-furry types can swoon over. And let’s not forget the comedic garnish Timon and Pumbaa add – because what’s romance without a bit of laughter? This tune complemented the narrative and waltzed off the screen to become a love song legend. It’s been covered, replayed, and, yes, probably overused on dating profiles, but let’s face it, the song has charm, and it’s not afraid to use it.
When You Wish Upon a Star – Pinocchio (1940)
This classic tune is like a timeless piece of Disney heritage. It’s the opening act to every enchanting story Disney has told since. Sung by Cliff Edwards, or ‘Ukulele Ike’, it’s like a time machine straight back to the days when cartoons were in black and white and happy endings were non-negotiable.
Ammara is a digital editor and gaming/tech writer based in Dubai with a keen eye for detail and a passion for all things Apple, indie games, and cyberpunk literature. When she’s not immersed in the digital realm, you’ll find her honing her gaming skills, exploring story-driven experiences, and delving into the world of game design and production.