The 15 Best Disney Movie Songs, Ranked

Disney has produced some of the most beloved and timeless classics in American cinema. Although it is the leader in animation, Disney’s contributions go beyond and into the very fabric of film as a storytelling medium. Every film lover has a favorite Disney film; almost everyone has seen the Disney classics, has their favorite princess, and knows the main villains. The Mouse House is a titan in the business, thanks to its 100-year-old history.



A crucial reason behind Disney’s success is the music. Many of cinema’s best musicals come from the Mouse House, with brilliant, game-changing lyricists and composers like the Sherman Brothers and duos like Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman building a rich musical legacy. Indeed, these songs are near-universally adored, and with good reason; few other Hollywood studios have as many iconic tunes as Disney.

15 “Go The Distance” – ‘Hercules’ (1997)

Hercules laughing in Disney's Hercules
Image via Disney

Based on the mythological Greek demigod, Disney’s 1997 hit Hercules has become increasingly popular in recent years. The story follows Hercules, the demigod son of Zeus, as he trains under the legendary Philoctetes to become a true hero and ascend to Mount Olympus.

RELATED: 10 Best Disney Villains You May Have Forgotten, Ranked Hercules has a gospel-inspired sound combined with the traditional Broadway vibe that characterized most Disney Renaissance films. The film’s most famous song, the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance,” is a sweet coming-of-age tune about youth dreams and challenges. Fueled by Roger Bart‘s hopeful and boyishly-charming voice, “Go the Distance” is an inspiring and encouraging song perfectly in tune with the film’s themes of heroism and growing up into one’s true self.

14 “Someday My Prince Will Come” – ‘Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs’ (1939)

Snow White singing to a bird on her finger in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs_1937 movie
Image via Disney

The first-ever Disney feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs remains one of the all-time great animated films. The plot revolves around the titular princess, who seeks refuge with a kindly group of dwarves after her evil stepmother sends a huntsman to kill her out of jealousy of her beauty.

Although the film only has one song, it’s one of Disney’s most tender and heart-warming. Written by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill and performed by Andriana Caselotti, “Someday My Prince Will Come” is the ultimate princess song. Its lyrics might seem antiquated under modern standards, but they fit the film’s narrative and Snow White’s personality to a tee.

13 “The Bare Necessities” – ‘The Jungle Book’ (1967)

Baloo smiling after meeting Mowgli

The Jungle Book is one of Disney’s most energetic and playful classics. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous 1894 novel, The Jungle Book follows the adventures of Mowgli, a child raised by a pack of wolves in the Indian jungle, who must join his friends to fight against the ruthless tiger, Shere Khan.

The film has a jazzy and enthusiastic score, best remembered for its emblematic song “The Bare Necessities.” A love letter to leisure and relaxation, “The Bare Necessities” is among Disney’s funniest and wittiest tunes. The memorable song was written by Terry Gilkyson and performed mainly by Phil Harris in his role as the hilarious Baloo, the bear.

12 “Cruella De Vil” – ‘One Hundred And One Dalmatians’ (1961)

Cruella de Vil entering a home while raising her arms in 101 Dalmatians.
Image via Disney

One Hundred and One Dalmatians is an adaptation of Dodie Smith’s eponymous 1956 novel. The plot centers on Roger and Anita, a couple whose beloved 15-puppy litter is stolen by Cruella de Vil, a wealthy heiress who wants to skin and turn them into a fur coat.

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The pinnacle of Disney villain songs, “Cruella de Vil” is a jazz masterpiece and a worthy theme to one of Disney’s best and most deranged villains. Composed by Mel Leven, “Cruella de Vil” is famous for its catchy and now-iconic piano melody and scathing lyrics, describing Cruella’s toxic personality to a tee.

11 “Chim Chim Cher-ee” – ‘Mary Poppins’ (1964)

Bert and Mary Poppins covered in snot and looking to the distance in Mary Poppins.

Disney’s 1964 masterpiece Mary Poppins is a live-action/animation hybrid and one of the studio’s greatest triumphs. Julie Andrews stars in her Oscar-winning role as the titular magical nanny, who arrives at the home of the Banks children to help them repair their relationship with their father.

The Sherman Brothers wrote the songs for Mary Poppins, including the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Performed by Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, “Chim Chim Cher-ee” is a whimsical tune about chimney sweeps and the supposed good luck they bring. Like most of the film’s songs, “Chim Chim Cher-ee” is an inspired effort, walking a fine line between wittiness and near-nonsense.

10 “The Bells Of Notre Dame” – ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’ (1996)

Quasimodo sitting on a gargoyle overlooking Paris in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame has, without a doubt, the darkest, most complex and elevated soundtrack of any Disney film. Loosely based on Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, the film tells the story of Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame, who falls for the beautiful Esmeralda, just as his despotic foster father, Claude Frollo, sets his sights on her.

Dark and atmospheric, the film features an iconic soundtrack by Menken and Schwartz. Particularly memorable is the opening number, “The Bells of Notre Dame,” a complex and near-perfect song that effectively acts as the film’s prologue. Expertly combining character development and narrative progression, “The Bells of Notre Dame” is a one-of-a-kind achievement, a fascinating composition that seamlessly blends themes and ideas into an exquisite, operatic song.

9 “Once Upon A Dream” – ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959)

Prince Phillip holding Princess Aurora's hand in the woods during their first meeting in 'Sleeping Beauty'
Image via Disney

1959’s Sleeping Beauty is often considered Disney’s last classic from its golden age. Based on Charles Perrault’s 1607 fairy tale, the film centers on Princess Aurora, who falls into an eternal sleep after being cursed by the evil fairy, Maleficent.

The film borrows generously from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1890 ballet Sleeping Beauty, using its Garland Waltz as its main romantic theme. Jack Lawrence and Sammy Fain wrote lyrics for the tune, resulting in the sweet and ethereal “Once Upon a Dream.” A classic and archetypical love song, “Once Upon a Dream” is Aurora and Prince Phillip’s theme, a gentle and delightful tune that embraces tradition, delivering the most fairytale-like song in Disney’s catalog.

8 “Reflection” – ‘Mulan’ (1998)

Mulan looking sad while singing Reflection in Mulan 1998

Mulan is one of the most daring films of its time, encapsulating the essence of Hua Mulan’s folktale and delivering one of the Disney Renaissance’s most subversive efforts. The plot centers on Mulan, a young woman who pretends to be a man and takes her father’s place in the Imperial Army to fight against the Huns.

A study in identity and legacy, Mulan is a more thoughtful and nuanced film from the Mouse House. The film’s most famous song, “Reflection,” resonates deeply with anyone who has ever felt foreign in their own skin. With some of the studio’s most striking and vulnerable lyrics, courtesy of David Zippel, “Reflection” is a fierce and emotional tune that perfectly complements the film’s main themes.

7 “Let It Go” – ‘Frozen’ (2013)

Elsa singing in Frozen (2013)
Image via Disney

Frozen took Hollywood by storm, becoming one of the 21st century’s biggest box-office surprises. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the film follows the spirited Anna, who goes on a dangerous search for her magical sister to rescue her kingdom from an eternal winter.

A huge reason for Frozen‘s overwhelming success was the gargantuan anthem “Let It Go.” The song was inescapable during late 2013 and throughout 2014, becoming a huge hit and winning the 2014 Best Original Song Oscar. Performed by the mighty Idina Menzel, “Let It Go” is a desperate and cathartic anthem, an ode to liberation and freedom that cemented Elsa as a feminist icon for the new millennium.

6 “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” – ‘Toy Story’ (1995)

Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Pixar’s first film, 1995’s Toy Story, was an industry game-changer. The film follows Woody, a cowboy who sees his place as a boy’s favorite toy jeopardized by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, an advanced astronaut-themed figure. Toy Story launched Pixar’s cinematic journey and established it as a household studio.

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Randy Newman wrote the theme for the film, an ode to the unbreakable bonds of friendship accurately called “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” With sweet and hopeful lyrics and a playful, instantly memorable melody, the song is Pixar’s melodic crowning jewel. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” has become a prominent leitmotif throughout the Toy Story franchise, playing throughout the next three films and even receiving a Spanish flamenco-styled cover in Toy Story 3.

5 “A Whole New World” – ‘Aladdin’ (1992)

Aladdin and Jasmine flying on the magic carpet in Aladdin.

Aladdin is among Disney’s most romantic movies. Based on the popular Arabic folk tale, the film tells the story of Aladdin, a young thief in the kingdom of Agrabah who finds a magic lamp and wishes to be a prince to win the love of the beautiful princess Jasmine.

The film features one of the Disney Renaissance’s most electrifying soundtracks. However, the film’s most famous song is the Oscar-winning, critically-acclaimed ballad “A Whole New World.” Performed by Aladdin and Jasmine during a magic carpet ride, the song is a sweeping love declaration as the two characters see the possibilities waiting for them. Beautifully animated and elevated by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga‘s enthusiastic voices, “A Whole New World” is among Disney’s most passionate ballads.

4 “Circle Of Life” – ‘The Lion King’ (1994)

Rafiki presenting baby Simba in The Lion King

The Lion King probably has the most iconic opening of any Disney film. The acclaimed film opens with the anthemic and inspiring “Circle of Life,” written by Tim Rice, composed by Elton John, and performed by Carmen Twillie, with Zulu vocals by Lebo M.

With a powerful message, expertly conveyed by Twillie’s deep, powerful vocals, “Circle of Life” will bring chills to anyone listening. The song is instantly-iconic, a mighty tune capable of piercing the audience’s heart from the now-immortal Zulu-spoken lines. Accompanied by a suitably majestic animated sequence, “Circle of Life” remains one of the studio’s deepest and most thought-provoking efforts, cementing The Lion King as one of Disney’s best soundtracks.

3 “Be Our Guest” – ‘Beauty And The Beast’ (1992)

Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast

The Disney Renaissance reached the apex of its Broadway-inspired sensibilities with Beauty and the Beast‘s “Be Our Guest.” Crafted by the infallible duo of Ashman and Menken and performed by Jerry Orbach and the legendary Angela Lansbury, the song arrives halfway through the film and features the enchanted objects performing for Belle during her first night in the Beast’s castle.

Few Disney songs have as masterful animated sequences as “Be Our Guest.” A true show-stopper, the song is an irresistible extravaganza of color and sound, the piece the resistance in a film comprised entirely of unique and unforgettable musical numbers, and a showcase for the late Orbach and Lansbury.

2 “Part Of Your World” – ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989)

Image Via Disney

“Part of Your World” ranks as arguably cinema’s greatest “I want” song. Sung by Ariel in her cave of wonders, the soulful and melancholy tune deals with her desire to know more about the surface world. Howard Ashman’s lyrics are the perfect and harmonious combination of sincerity and genuine longing, with Alan Menken’s whimsical melody as the perfect companion.

The song is further enhanced by Jodi Benson‘s heartfelt vocal performance. Instead of going for a larger-than-life, theatrical route, Benson favors a softer, more subdued approach, letting the lyrics shine through her sweet but passionate voice. “Part of Your World” is perhaps the crowning achievement of the Disney Renaissance, a song that captures the desire to grow up and explore, thus captivating an entire generation and making them fall back in love with the Mouse House.

1 “When You Wish Upon A Star” – ‘Pinocchio’ (1940)

Jiminy Cricket lifting his hat in salute in Pinocchio

Carlo Collodi’s 1883 classic Pinocchio has had several adaptations; however, Disney’s version might be the best known. Pinocchio follows the titular puppet as he attempts to learn the difference between right and wrong, guided by his father, Giepetto, and a tiny cricket acting as his conscience, Jiminy Cricket.

Jiminy has the film’s most famous song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington. Sung during the opening credits, the melody serves as the main musical theme and talks about the film’s primary themes of wishing and believing. “When You Wish Upon a Star” has become synonymous with Disney itself, playing over the company’s logo since the 1980s and cementing its legacy as the greatest tune to come out of the Mouse House.

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