There are a lot of great Disney songs. But to really take it to the next level is when a Disney movie is about to have an all around great soundtrack. I believe that means it needs a minimum of 3 big musical moments met by songs that are memorable and stay with you long after the movie has ended.
For this list, I chose movies that I think have the best soundtracks and my favorite 3 songs from each of the movies.I based it on the most original, most memorable and Billboard chart performance.
1. The Lion King (1994)
Best songs:“ Can You Feel the Love Tonight” | “Hakuna Matata” | “Circle of Life” | “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”
The soundtrack had the best team with songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice, and a score composed by Hans Zimmer. It’s the biggest-selling animated soundtrack ever with over 7.8 million copies sold in the US. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was No. 1 in the US, Canada and France.
2. Tarzan (1999)
Best songs: “You’ll Be in My Heart” | “Strangers Like Me” | “Two Worlds”
Tarzan is a perfect example of a good movie turning into a GREAT movie through the power of music. Phil Collins was able to invoke an emotion and bring the story to life. The songs resonate with you long after the scene is over and gives power to the emotional journey that Tarzan goes through. It even reveals some light moments with “Trashin’ the Camp.” Phill Collins understood the assignment when it came to this soundtrack. It’s perfect. “You’ll Be in My Heart” spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Not only that but it won Best Song at the Oscars and Golden Globes and was nominated for a Grammy.
3. Moana (2016)
Best songs: “How Far I’ll Go” | “You’re Welcome” | “Shiny”
It came out 5 years ago and it took me until recently to realize how triumphant it actually is. The songs are inspiring, creative and were a breath of fresh air for Disney at the time of its release. Lin-Manuel Miranda was coming in hot after the success of Hamilton on Broadway and he set out to show the world he could be more than just that. I mean, if you can get Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to sing like that…you deserve a spot in this Top 3. The soundtrack actually peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200. It would have gone No. 1 if not for The Weeknd’s Starboy. The Rock’s version of “You’re Welcome” peaked at number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4. Hercules (1997)
Best songs: “Go The Distance” | “Zero to Hero” | “A Star Is Born”
I feel like Hercules not only has an underrated soundtrack but I find it to be an underrated Disney movie all together. The idea to incorporate gospel music for the movie gives the entire movie a different feel and makes the story seem even more heroic and really brings the entire film to life. “Go The Distance” by Michael Bolton peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997.
5. Aladdin (1992)
Best songs:“ A Whole New World” | “Arabian Nights” | “Friend Like Me”
It took me seeing the live-action remake to put this one in the Top 5. I was never the biggest fan of this movie as a kid…but always though the music stood out more than the story itself. When it came to the live-action remake in 2019…the songs really shined more. “A Whole New World” is the only song from an animated Disney production to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
6. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
7. Coco (2017)
8. Mulan (1998)
9. The Little Mermaid (1989)
10. Frozen (2013)
To hear the full breakdown of this list….check out Movie Mike’s Movie Podcast!