Over nearly 80 years, the 56 feature films from Walt Disney Animation Studios have become beloved and instantly recognizable their iconic fairy tales, memorable comic-relief sidekicks, terrifying villains, and some of the greatest songs in cinema history. This week heralds the release of Disney’s latest animated film, Moana, which boasts songs co-written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. So there’s no better time to compile a list of the 25 best songs in animated Disney history — with a couple of important pre-list caveats. First, to avoid overloading the list with songs from only a few films, each movie here could only be represented by a maximum of two songs. Second, this list has films in the official Disney animation canon only, so nothing from Pixar or even The Nightmare Before Christmas. With that in mind, here’s the list!
Suddenly, Disney’s upcoming live action version of Beauty and the Beast is looking like a very wise move. After all, their new take on Cinderella shook the box office out of the doldrums, launching with numbers that feel more at home with the summer than March. Yes, it even took down that might spring movie season titan Liam Neeson.
The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.