As Disney turns 100 next year, it’s important to note the exceptional number of musical films that have appeared throughout its century. The animated musical or animated hybrid is practically synonymous with the brand itself, and nearly every song in every movie has become iconic.
But not all musical films have the same number of songs. What clarifies a musical number is that someone, whether it’s a character or an omniscient singer, has to sing in the movie. And some films have these musical numbers scattered around all the time, while others only have a handful.
ten Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – 9
Disney’s first animated feature is one of the most song-filled. This movie has plenty of sweet, fun melodies rather than the explosive musical numbers that Disney would later become known for, but that doesn’t mean a number of the movie’s songs aren’t any less iconic.
“Heigh-Ho” is incredibly catchy, making it one of Disney’s best-known quotes. Snow White also gets some cute numbers, such as “Someday My Prince Will Come,” and her Betty Boop-style voice helps her stand out among the slew of other singing Disney Princesses.
9 The Little Mermaid (1989) – 9
Alan Menken is considered one of Disney’s finest songwriters, and that was kickstarted by his work on The little Mermaid. In the film, Menken introduced the idea that the characters should talk along with the music before singing, which made the numbers more organic when the singing started.
The songs are obviously amazing. “Part of Your World” is perhaps Disney’s most iconic “I Want” song, and it’s considered one of the best Disney songs of all time according to Ranker. And now, with the live-action adaptation of the film in production, fans can get excited for any potential new songs that will be added.
8 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) – 10
the Winnie the Pooh The theme song has been in children’s minds for decades, and it’s thanks to the 1977 film. This film, about a silly old stuffed bear, features a number of whimsical yet understated musical moments, which matches the general relaxed tone of the film.
The exception, of course, is the iconic song “Heffalumps and Woozles,” which mixes spooky psychedelic animation with explosive instrumentals, creating one of the most surreal moments in any Disney film. For this song, as well as others, the vocals come from the film’s narrator, rather than the characters themselves, emphasizing the film’s storybook feel.
7 Beauty and the Beast (1991) – 10
The music for this film, which depicts the “Tale as Old as Time”, can be attributed to the late great composer Alan Menken. The songs are great for portraying the characters, especially since many of the numbers are named after the characters, like the songs “Belle” and “Gaston”.
The movie of course has one of Disney’s best love songs not sung by the main characters, the titular “Beauty and the Beast,” which is beautifully sung by Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts. The 10 songs from this film also include the previously deleted but then restored “Human Again”, which the castle’s enchanted objects sing happily as Beauty and the Beast draw closer.
6 Pete’s Dragon (1977) – 11
pete’s dragon is a great mix of live action and animation, and features a surprisingly mature story about an orphan boy and his magical dragon on the run from the boys’ abusive adoptive parents. But in addition to that, there are also very good songs.
The music is upbeat and childish to match the film’s whimsical tone, but it also manages to be heartfelt and emotional. It perfectly captures the quaint vibe of the film’s setting of a fishing town, and the music overall was well received by the audience. The song “Candle on the Water” was even nominated for an Acadamy Award.
5 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – 12
The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a holiday classic for Halloween and Christmas, and it has the perfect musical numbers for both events. The music is by Danny Elfman, so it’s no wonder it all sounds very magical and spooky.
Since there are a lot of characters in the movie, naturally there are a lot of songs, since almost every character has their own specific number. The opening number, “This is Halloween” is probably the film’s most iconic song, but every song has left its mark on audiences, like the one Jack sings when he arrives in Christmas Town or the delightfully amusing villain song from Oogie Boogie.
4 Moana (2016) – 12
Because Moana is an American film based on Polynesian culture, the film features songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i, with lyrics in English, Samoan, Tokelauan and Tuvaluan. The use of multiple languages and Polynesian instruments really adds to the richness of Moana’s world.
The songs are amazing both for creating the world, but also for moving the plot forward and developing the characters. Moana gets an iconic song “I Want” with “How Far I’ll Go.” The movie also features one of Disney’s best sidekick songs featuring Maui’s fun number “You’re Welcome.” “I Am Moana” is probably the most moving number and really works as a plot twist.
3 The Three Caballeros (1944) -14
The Three Caballeros follows Donald Duck and his friends as they go on an adventure through Latin America. It was made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Donald Duck, who may have done bad things in Disney history, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the music in this movie.
The songs are a mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese, and the musical influences come from all parts of Latin America, which significantly includes the amazing voice of Brazilian singer Aurora Miranda. Overall, the movie is fun and energetic, and its many songs fit that tone perfectly.
2 Mary Poppins (1964) – 16
Mary Poppins is considered a classic for a reason. It’s definitely one of the best live-action/animated hybrid movies out there, and its songs are amazing, too. Julie Andrew’s voice and performance are incredible, so it’s no wonder she received an Oscar for the film.
“A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Che-ree,” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” are songs that stand out for their catchiness, and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is nothing short of absolutely iconic. The fact that the film got a sequel in 2018 is a testament to the quality of the film and the quality of its many songs.
1 Alice in Wonderland (1951) – 19
Alice in Wonderland, the story of a young girl stumbling into an absurd world, is perhaps more known for its wacky and incredible visuals than its songs, but that doesn’t mean the music isn’t as incredible. In order to fit so many songs into a short film, the songs are usually quite short themselves, but they still manage to have an impact.
“Painting the Roses Red” is probably his most iconic number, but each character has their own fun and memorable tune. Overall, Disney has managed to take Lewis Caroll’s wondrous, absurd words and adapt them into song form.
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