Disney has a ways of working magic into their songs and capturing the ears and hearts of their audience. Whether it’s Tim Rice’s lyrics, Alan Menken’s captivating harmonies, or Howard Ashman’s titillating melodies, Disney has managed to make music that lasts for generations. It seems like every classic Disney movie has it’s own classic Disney song from Beauty and the Beast’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Be Our Guest” to the Lion King’s “Can you feel the Love tonight?”, from Toy Story’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World”, Disney never fails to impress. However, occasionally Disney manages to write masterpieces that unfortunately are either never heard of again or only have meager cult followers. I’ve gathered ten of the best Disney songs ever that deserve a lot more credit than they’ve been given!
I Won’t Say I’m In Love – Hercules
Everybody is familiar with the hit Hercules song “Go the Distance”, but this hidden gem should have been another classic. Susan Egan, who provides the voice of Meg, gives a strong vocal performance in this song. One of the best parts of the song is the lyrics, which is no surprise as they were written by Disney Legend Alan Menken.
Everybody Wants to Be a Cat – The Aristocats
Sometimes the underrated songs are from shockingly underrated movies. The Aristocats is a rather obscure but phenomenal movie with some great characters. Good luck getting this one out of your head anytime soon! This catchy song reminds us how much we really want to be cats.
God Help the Outcasts – Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is filled to the brink with brilliant songs. While I do think this song is a bit overdone in the musical theater world for auditions, it certainly is underappreciated in general. If there’s one thing Disney is great at, it’s taking characters society has rejected and making us fall in love with them. The song was written by Disney Legend Alan Menken with lyrics by the famed musical lyricist Stephen Schwartz, the duo worked on the movie together and made some of the best Disney music out there.
Not One of Us – Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
Most people don’t even know this movie exists! This direct-to-video sequel is one of the greatest sequels in animation history. After the success of loosely adapting Shakespeare’s Hamlet for the Lion King, the sequel is based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The story features Simba’s daughter Nala falling in love with Scar’s son Kovu. The music in the sequel might not be as iconic as the original, but it’s just as good! A key song in the movie is when Simba banishes Kovu from the pride. It’s a song of difference, alienation, and unforgiving social dynamics. Kovu is blamed for his father’s actions, and it’s hard to get past a family legacy. The song is a brilliant piece of social commentary, and the use of multi layered harmonies and African cultural influence really make the song a Disney hit (even if most people have never heard it before!)
I’m Still Here – Treasure Planet
Treasure Planet in and of itself is a completely underrated Disney movie. It has an interesting plot, unique characters, and this gem of a song. The main character is even portrayed by none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself. The song was written and sung by The Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik, and has a soft punk rock kind of feel to it.
Hellfire – Hunchback of Notre Dame
Perhaps, I just think the entire score of Hunchback of Notre Dame is underrated. However, after listening to the soundtrack it’s hard to disagree this is some of the best music Disney has made. If you thought Disney movies, or animated movies in general, were just for children this song would prove you wrong. Frollo, the main villain, is a religious man who has taken an oath to celibacy and yet when he’s tempted by the gypsy Esmeralda he makes a deal with a demon to kill her just because he can’t handle his bodily temptations.
Why Should I Worry – Oliver and Company
Another Disney flop, Oliver and Company follows the story of a cat who joins a group of street wise dogs. Though it’s loosely based on the classic musical Oliver! the movie wasn’t loved by audience members or critics. The music has a LOT of influence from the time period, filled with every 80’s cliche you could imagine. Nevertheless, it’s still a catchy song and one that is instantly lovable.
Savages – Pocahontas
Everyone always remembers “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, but “Savages” is a much better song. It’s the build up to the climax of the movie and perfectly encapsulates everything the movie is about. Plus the imagery throughout this scene is beautiful and heart-wrenching.
Perfect World – The Emperor’s New Groove
The Emperor’s New Groove is one of my favorite Disney movies ever. It’s a laugh out loud movie the entire time and this opening song really sets the pace for a great movie. The Emperor’s New Groove even had it’s own spin off show on the Disney Channel called the Emperor’s New School which although not as funny as the movie was quite enjoyable. Following the spin off show, a spin off movie was made focusing on the fan favorite character Kronk, Kronk’s New Groove.
Out There – Hunchback of Notre Dame
I bet you thought I was done with the Hunchback of Notre Dame, right? Wrong. Not only does the movie have a third gem among it’s ranks, but its a completely underrated song that deserves much more credit than it’s given. This song can easily bring you to tears as you realize how broken Quasimodo really is and it’s all Frollo’s fault. The hunchback just wants to live among the people, and although he trusts Frollo, he’s been stuck in the bell tower his entire life. The song is a bit slow to begin with but really picks up around the 2:30 mark.
There you have it, ten completely underrated Disney songs that are complete masterpieces. These songs have everything that makes Disney songs so lovable, but whether it was a failing movie or wrong timing, these songs never had much mainstream success.
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