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.
If the prospect of a new live-action version of Cinderella wasn’t enticing enough, the new Disney film is opening with a special added attraction: “Frozen Fever,” a short sequel to Frozen, the most popular movie (and most dastardly earworm) of 2013. And here I thought “Frozen fever” was a mental illness that made kids sing “Let It Go” over and over again until their parents begged for the sweet release of death. My mistake.
Disney’s big kick right now is revisionist versions of classic fairy tales. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ became ‘Maleficent,’ a sympathetic look at the supposedly “evil” witch. Last Christmas’ ‘Into the Woods’ followed numerous fairy tales to find the unhappy endings after their “happily ever after.” Even ‘Frozen’ reconfigured numerous classic fairy tale tropes (the handsome price was secretly [SPOILER ALERT] the bad guy, and the film’s true love story was actually between a pair of sisters). What’s most surprising about Disney’s new live-action ‘Cinderella’ is how unsurprising it looks; it seems totally unlike those films in its old-school vibe.