Welcome to part 4 of the blog series where I rank 100 Disney songs. Are you still with me? I hope so, because we’re almost to the end of my personal Disney-song ranking. In today’s installment, the countdown continues with rankings #40-21. These are the songs that fall into my great tier. I love every single song in this section, but they didn’t quite make it to my all-time favorites. I’ll be going over what I love about the songs and why some may be lower than others.
Just a reminder that this is my own personal ranking, and when it comes to art, it’s subjective. So, you may not agree with the placement of songs, but please know it isn’t meant to be any personal attack if you love a song and I didn’t place it higher on my ranking. There are so many Disney songs out there to love – something for everyone! And that’s what makes these songs so beautiful. Everyone connects to different songs.
That said, have I ranked your favorite Disney song yet? Maybe it will end up in this great tier that comes right before my favorites. Or, if you share similar faves to mine, you might see our favorites line up. Check out this installment’s ranking and find out!
40) “Following the Leader” – Peter Pan
At #40, we have “Following the Leader” from Peter Pan. This is my favorite song from the 1953 classic. It’s so upbeat and fun. I could never whistle as a kid (and still can’t) but I remember marching around the house with my brothers trailing behind me while we sang along and I tried to follow along with the whistling parts. This isn’t the first time I’ve referenced my failure to whistle in this ranking, but it’s interesting that the songs with whistling stick out in my mind because of my memories of trying to whistle myself. Anyway, “Following the Leader” is a great song, and if you’ve somehow never heard it, give it a listen
39) “Once Upon a Dream” – Sleeping Beauty
I love Mary Costa’s (the voice of Aurora) singing on this classic. She brings such a magical tone to it that always enchanted me as a kid. And when you listen to the version that’s the duet with Prince Phillip (voiced by Bill Shirley) from the film, it’s such a sweet song. It’s a great one that I hold a lot of wonderful memories of. It’s sugary sweet and a little unrealistic of a song, but isn’t most romance in fiction a little over the top? That’s what makes it a joy to experience.
38) “Gaston” – Beauty and the Beast
The Beauty and the Beast soundtrack is one film mentioned in this ranking that I like a lot of songs from. The soundtrack seldom gets skips from me. If you’ve been reading up on past installments to this ranking, you know that I came to realize many villain songs were lower. Yet, “Gaston” is a “villain” song that I love. It’s so catchy and fun to sing along to, especially imitating Lefou at the beginning. Sidenote: we could all use as awesome of a hype man as Lefou. Gaston’s ego is already so big, and this song only makes it worse, but it’s a great way to get to know how the town sees him. And that “every last inch of me’s covered in hair” is a big compliment, which makes me chuckle. Something that makes me thankful for the humor of the internet is people calling out that perhaps getting eggs in the town is difficult because Gaston eats 5 dozen eggs (as mentioned in the song). I love the Internet. Gaston sucks, but this song doesn’t. It takes its rightful place in the top 40.
37) “Strange Things” – Toy Story
I absolutely loved Toy Story growing up, and still do as an adult. I was one of those people stoked for any further Toy Story installments even if they weren’t the same as the originals. I couldn’t bring myself to put “Strange Things” any lower because it’s a great song. The song is used perfectly in the film as Woody notices Andy’s interests changing. Suddenly, the cowboy comforter and Woody drawings and posters are all changed to space cadets and Buzz Lightyear everywhere he looks. Buzz is bonding with the other toys and Woody feels left out. He’s losing his grip on being the leader, something that breaks the status quo he’s used to. The worst is when Woody is thrown in the toy box, and Buzz gets to be Andy’s cuddle buddy. That’s cold, Andy. It’s kind of a sad song, but Randy Newman has such a lighthearted upbeat voice, you forget how sad it is. It’s great, nonetheless.
36) “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” – The Lion King
I’ve mentioned in other installments of this blog series that The Lion King wasn’t on constant replay in my house, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love songs from it. “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” is one I love. I had a lot of Disney sing-along VHS tapes growing up, and one I played all the time had this song in its repertoire. They also played a music video version on Disney Channel all the time, so I hold a lot of nostalgia for it. The lyrics of this song show just how naïve kids can be. They hold the idea that growing up will make everything easier. Many of us thought that way…until we grew up. This is a fun song because we get to indulge in that big dream state Simba holds. It’s also just a great song.
35) “A Whole New World” – Aladdin
I present to you another song frequently shown on The Disney Channel and one that made an appearance on my sing-along tapes. This is such a magical love song, and it warms my heart to hear it. Jasmine was so isolated, but being with Aladdin gives her a chance to see everything differently, and don’t we all wish to experience dazzling places and things that change how we view everything (in a good way at least)?
34) “Scales and Arpeggios” – Aristocats
Aristocats was a huge favorite of mine as a kid. It’s probably where my love of my cats began. Plus, the kittens are just so darn cute. This song is best enjoyed when you’re watching the scene from the movie because the cats are so expressive and funny. You didn’t ask, but my favorite was Marie, of course. With one sister and two brothers, the dynamic reminded me of my own family, so seeing them bicker was very relatable back then, and even now. The cats practice the scales and arpeggios, as the song says, and their little voices are so adorable. It’s a catchy, fun track that’s super short, so it’s nearly un-skippable in my eyes.
33) “Hakuna Matada” – The Lion King
I present to you my favorite song from The Lion King. This is the song that most associate with the movie, and I do too. Hakuna Matada means no worries, and it’s the motto of Timon and Pumba. In an attempt to cheer up Simba, they teach him the phrase while also relaying their life experiences. Beyond trying to help Simba, it’s also a great message to kids watching. When life doesn’t work out, they encourage people not to wallow in what went wrong. They instead say that living life without worries is a better way to live. That’s inspiring. And it’s probably why so many Disney fans, kids and adults, love it.
32) “Something There” – Beauty and the Beast
I’ve already established that Beauty and the Beast is one soundtrack that has few skips, and this is another track I love from the movie. Beyond being a great, sweet song, it’s also just a beautiful little love song. Yes, I know, falling for a beast is kind of weird to look back on (plus the Stockholm syndrome thing but we’re not going there). Hear me out. It’s really sweet how they show how the two of them are slowly falling for each other. Like the song says, “There’s something there that wasn’t there before.” And people who love romance know that’s always so exciting to see happen. When something shifts and two people suddenly view each other differently. I love it.
31) “I Wan’na Be Like You” - The Jungle Book
This is my second favorite song from The Jungle Book. It’s so darn catchy and fun. I have fond memories of my dad singing along to this song with me. Looking at the material of the song as an adult, it’s interesting to think about a chimp wanting to join society like normal. I love the jazzy influences featured in this song, and how King Louie and Baloo disguised as a monkey are singing in what seems to be nonsense but as an adult, it sounds a lot like scatting to me. That’s pretty cool. Especially since the voice of King Louie in the movie is jazz trumpeter Louis Prima!
30) “The Family Madrigal” - Encanto
This song’s chorus plays on a constant loop in my head. I initially was going to put this song in the top 20, but after revisiting the entire soundtrack, another one took that spot instead (tune in to the next blog installment to find out which one). We get to learn all about the family, what their powers are, and how important they are to their town. It’s such an accessible way for the audience to get to know the family and keep them all straight in a fun way while also learning about the main character Mirabel who doesn’t have a gift of her own. This was a great opening to one of the best movies of the new Disney wave. It’s catchy, it’s easy to dance to, and it sets up the story well. And I can’t be the only one whose brain hears the phrase “the family Madrigal” on a loop since watching this film. It’s so catchy!!
29) “Two Worlds” – Tarzan
Everyone, say thank you to Phil Collins who put so much into this soundtrack for a kid’s movie. “Two Worlds” is a fantastic song that pairs perfectly with the movie and its messaging. Tarzan may come from the human world, but the gorilla world is a major part of him, and nothing will change that. He doesn’t have to abandon one for the other, and that’s messaging that can be translated to many real-life experiences. I think that’s beautiful. It’s emotional to revisit the song as an adult, especially with the tragic opening scenes. I love this song a lot. It made it into the top 30, so I’m sure that’s clear 😊
28) “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana
This is the most popular song from Moana, and it also happens to be my favorite from the film. I mean, how can you not like this song, at least a little bit? Moana’s desire to explore beyond her island life is something we see often in Disney movies. The desire to see something beyond the life they know is common, but the love of nature reminds me a lot of Pocahontas’ dreams, and maybe that might be why I loved this song. It reminds me of the classics I grew up loving, but it has a modern take. Auli'i Cravalho has a beautiful voice, and I also love the version used in the credits sung by Alessia Cara. Both are great, but from my days in retail, I’m partial to the Cara version that played on the store’s station all the time.
27) “Trashin’ the Camp” – Tarzan
I absolutely love this scene from Tarzan. Seeing Tarzan’s jungle friends discover human items from Jane’s camp is so funny. Then the fact that from destroying stuff they discover a beat and begin a jam session…I just love it! From the ding of typewriter, to the ripping of paper, to the breaking of plates and more, they create a great little tune, one that’s so easy to dance along to. And wow, I’m realizing, another song I love from a Disney movie that features scatting, a term I didn’t know until I was an adult. That’s so cool. It didn’t quite make it to the top 25, but that doesn’t change that it’s a great tune.
26) “Sally’s Song” – The Nightmare Before Christmas
This list wouldn’t be complete without The Nightmare Before Christmas, another movie’s soundtrack I listen to year-round. In this song, Sally, a member of Halloween Town who is pining for Jack, is lamenting about her struggles to fit in and be taken seriously about her premonitions that something bad is coming their way. The song ends on a somber note with Sally insisting that she will never get to be with Jack for she is not the one meant for him (or so she thinks). This melancholy song is truly beautiful and allows audiences to get to know Sally more through discovering her feelings. It’s a great song. It may not be my favorite from the movie, but it’s a very good song.
25) “Be Our Guest” – Beauty and the Beast
This song is big and cinematic, and you don’t even have to see the scene from Beauty and the Beast to feel that way. I think the subtle sound effects help with that. Plus, there’s just so much going on. All the objects of the house are so determined to welcome Belle into Beast’s home because they want her to stay and fall in love with him. Knowing the reason why they went so hard in this song makes so much sense when you realize they’re tired of being animated objects and they see her as a beacon of hope to break the spell. Plus, they must get pretty bored not entertaining people like in the old days. It’s a lot for Belle and the audience to take in, but that’s the point. It’s so chaotic, and that’s why I love it.
24) “Kiss the Girl” – The Little Mermaid
There are so many great songs from The Little Mermaid, but a lot of the best ones feature the crab Sebastian, played by Samuel E. Wright. He really shines in this song where he’s trying to get Eric to kiss Ariel so she can get her voice back and live happily ever after. Sebastian isn’t happy with what Ariel has done to become human, but he still tries to support her anyway. His job is to protect her, but he also just cares for her personally too. That’s evident from this song. This is another song made better if you watch it with the movie clip. Still, even without the clip, it’s great. The fish going “woah-woah” is so iconic.
I learned how to play this song on the piano when I was in high school. In fact, a lot of tracks from The Little Mermaid were in my early repertoire when I was learning by ear. They say to write what you know, but I think playing what you know also helps people learn. I have “Kiss the Girl” to thank for helping me on my piano journey.
23) “Bella Notte” – Lady and the Tramp
I’ve been throwing these songs on while writing up this blog, and I cannot- simply cannot – hear the beginning of this song and not join in. I hold so much nostalgia for this song, and this scene from Lady and the Tramp is so cute!! Dogs falling in love, I mean…need I say more? Okay, okay I will say more because I love this song. It’s so beautiful and a great song to throw on, even if you’ve never seen the movie. My dad’s side of the family is Italian, so maybe that’s also why I’ve always loved this song. There were photos all over my grandparents’ place of my great-grandpa playing the accordion looking similar to the cooks in the movie. All this to say, I love this song, and that’s why it’s ranked so highly.
22) “What’s This?” – The Nightmare Before Christmas
Does anyone else get annoyed walking into a store in the late summer or fall and already seeing Christmas décor out for sale? Or do you get annoyed when you see a blizzard in the forecast? While some people see these things and get annoyed, Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas is in awe of it, because it’s his first time seeing the magic of winter and Christmas. I love this song, and it’s so heartwarming to see Jack discover all the traditions of the holidays for the first time. He’s never seen people kiss under mistletoe or throw snowballs (instead of throwing heads, as Jack says). This song is so fast-paced, and I think that helps capture the wonder Jack feels as he’s experiencing so much at once. His mind is moving a mile a minute, and we’re in for the ride. It’s a great song that’s great to play any time of year but goes perfectly in the winter holidays.
21) “Under the Sea” – The Little Mermaid
What a banger of a track, dude. “Under the Sea” is a song I will always jam out to when it comes up on shuffle. The big band quality, the variety of sea life coming together to celebrate their home, and us being along for the ride with Ariel makes it so much fun. This is another great track from the movie that heavily features Sebastian (aka Samuel E. Wright) who puts his all into it. It’s an iconic song, and when you watch it with the movie clip, it’s so cinematic and cool. This is another song that was always played on the Disney Channel with the clip from the movie, so it’s imprinted in my memory very well. It hurts my heart to know that it didn’t make it to my top 20, but that’s just because there are some other amazing songs out there that rise higher in the rankings. But if this is your favorite song, there’s comfort in knowing this one made it to the top of this list. It deserves it too.
We’re almost to the top 20, finally!! If you’ve been pulling up each section of the ranking up until this point, thanks for your interest. And of course, thanks for your patience while we near the top. 100 songs are a lot to get through, but I think it’s been a lot of fun so far. Have I ranked your favorite Disney songs yet? If the answer is no, then you’re automatically cooler in my book because it means we have similar tastes 😊 If I have ranked your favorites, don’t worry, I also think you’re cool for following along with this blog series.
Which one from this collection of songs is your favorite? How would you rank them?
Thanks for reading, and if you’re getting impatient for the final installment, I point you to the phrase, "Hakuna Matada." We’ll be there soon, my friends. Thank you for being my guest. I’ll be back in a few weeks with the final ranking!
Written by Kristen Petronio