Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Disney Top Ten...or TWENTY!


In celebration of Disney’s big night this past Sunday, I wanted to dedicate the first ever Fisti DOUBLE Top Ten to the wonderful world of Disney music.  Yes, each and every year (that gives us a new Disney cartoon) we pine over which songs will be included and what potential they’ll have to be considered instant classics (and what Oscar potential they will carry) and since Disney’s latest Oscar grab included a MUCH deserved win for Best Original Song, this is only appropriate.  When one thinks about Oscar’s Original Song category, one almost immediately links it to Disney cartoons, but when compiling this double list I found that there are so many Disney films that were completely snubbed in this category.  In fact, only 24 Original Song nominations come from Disney movies, and of those 24 songs, only 17 actual films were represented here.  I was kind of shocked to see some of the omissions, even from films that are beloved by so many, including AMPAS. 

Of those 24 songs, only 8 of them have won.

Seriously, this is blowing my mind.

So, my two fold Top Ten (or Top Twenty, if you so desire to label it) contains my Top Ten NOMINATED Disney songs and my Top Ten SNUBBED Disney songs.

I only included films that were part of Disney’s MAIN studio (not the branches they also distribute for) and obviously ONLY their theatrical releases, and I did NOT include their collaborations with Pixar.  I wanted to distance this from other studios and feature those beloved classic contributions to film that are sole children of Disney.


So, let’s get this thing started!


NOMINATED

10.
Colors of the Wind ~ Pocahontas


Pocahontas is not my favorite Disney movie by any means, but there is no denying that this particular song and sequence was stunning and really sticks in the mind as a great Disney moment.  It doesn't hurt that the message here is a weighty one, and while the film itself handles those themes rather clumsily, the song itself is stunning.

09.
Beauty and the Beast ~ Beauty and the Beast


The first film in the list to appear twice, Beauty and the Beast is a bounty of musical wonderfulness, and while I'm sure that this seems like a low placement for such a beloved song, this list was really hard to rank because these songs are all so beautiful.  This moment is easily the most memorable from the film, and rightfully so.  As far as Disney love songs go, this one is remarkable.

08.
Let it Go ~ Frozen


It may be the newest addition to the Disney canon, but Frozen is an instant classic through and through, and this beloved ballad of self awareness, discover and love is a rightful  Oscar winner and a stunning declaration of self empowerment.  It doesn't hurt that the swell on that chorus gives you chills, it's that catchy and beautifully sung (except at the Oscars themselves).

07.
Under the Sea ~ The Little Mermaid


Like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid will appear twice on this list, and rightfully so.  When one thinks of Disney musicals, those are the first two films that come to mind.  Oscar also embraced these films in this category.  This particular song won the Oscar, and it's easy to see why.  It's infectious, charming and totally quotable.  Everyone I know knows this song and loves to belt it out anytime we're near the ocean!

06.
Baby Mine ~ Dumbo


Up until this point in the list, the nominees had also won the Oscar.  Now we come to a song that was nominated but did not take the gold; sadly.  This beautiful lullaby is one of Disney's greatest contributions and really anchors the film, which in it of itself is a tad all over the place.  Dumbo is one of those films that doesn't have a giant following, but the core theme of the film is summed up beautifully in this classic song.  The fact that my wife sang this to my eldest daughter when she was an infant has forever cemented it into my heart.

05.
The Bare Necessities ~ The Jungle Book


The Jungle Book is not light on awesome musical fare, and yet this was the film's only nominee in this category and it didn't even snag the Oscar, which is surprising to me.  This infectious song is beloved by almost everyone, and the chummy nature of the beast makes this one of the funnest songs in the whole Disney canon!

04.
Kiss the Girl ~ The Little Mermaid


I love Under the Sea as much as the next guy, but how in the world did Kiss the Girl lose that Oscar?!?!  I mean, this is one of the most charmingly playful love songs Disney has ever come out with, complete with the perfect moment in the film (just stunning) and every little detail in the animation makes this a true event and a classic in every sense of the word.

03.
Be Our Guest ~ Beauty and the Beast


This has a lot of nostalgia tied to it for me, but Be Our Guest is one of my favorite cinematic moments in the history of cinema!  The whole scene, the playful lyrics, the vocals, the visual feast (pun intended) make this one of those unforgettable and remarkably lavish scenes in Disney's entire canon.  I completely understand why Beauty and the Beast won over this, but this will always be my personal pick.

02.
When You Wish Upon a Star ~ Pinocchio


Let's not even pretend that this song hasn't become the theme song to all things Disney!  I mean, for the longest time I forgot that this was even from Pinocchio and just thought that it was a song written to represent Disney as a whole.  Such a charming and delightful ode to childhood and the power of dreams, which is basically what Disney represents!

01.
Can You Feel the Love Tonight ~ The Lion King


I bet you thought I'd forgotten about The Lion King, but nope...it's right here!  I'm sure that many will contest this win from me, but it was really no contest on this placement at all.  As soon as I knew I was going to put together this list, I knew what my number one was.  It is that beautiful, that tender and that special.  The fact that it was my wedding song is also reason enough to place it this high, but really...this song is just EVERYTHING that a song should be.  One of the greatest love songs of all time.

I know that many are probably wondering where A Whole New World is, or why I didn't mention more Lion King songs but just know that this list was hard to fine tune.  Hakuna Matata was my #11 and Belle, You'll Be in My Heart and Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo were close to breaking into the Top Ten.  I love At Last I See the Light the more I listen to it, but I still prefer another song from Tangled (which wasn't nominated) and as beloved as A Whole New World is, I just don't LOVE it that much at all.

Alright people, we're halfway there!  Now for the second half of this Top Twenty!

SNUBBED

10.
Reflection ~ Mulan


I know, I was shocked that this one wasn't an Oscar nominee as well!  I mean, how in the world was this not the Oscar frontrunner that year?  Oh yeah, The Prince of Egypt happened.  The film was even nominated for Original Score, so the song snub is all the more stinging, and while I'm not the hugest fan of Mulan as a film, this song is just beautifully rich and everything that Oscar usually looks for with regards to Disney songs.  This also made Christina Aguilera happen, so we have that to applaud it for.

09.
Best of Friends ~ The Fox and the Hound


I'll be honest, the concept for this whole list started when I was compiling my personal ballot for the 1981 Fisti Awards (which will be up next week) and realized that The Fox and the Hound is considered as lesser Disney, which is just utter bullshit!  I remember watching this movie countless times as a child (it is my father's favorite Disney movie) and the songs here (yes, another one is on this list) are just so tender and heartening.  Simple yet effective, THIS is how you craft a buddy song.

08.
Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat ~ The Aristocats


One of the most infectious songs in the entire Disney canon, this jazz infused anthem from The Aristocats is a horrible Oscar snub, because it is that awesome!  You can't help but bounce along to every line, every musical POP, and boy does this track pop, a lot!  

07.
I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song) ~ The Jungle Book


Yes, I know that The Bare Necessities is commonly quoted and sung by nearly everyone, but isn't this one as well?  I mean, it's really a toss up as to which one is the better, more beloved song.  It also doesn't hurt that this film has the greatest moment in the entire film (the staging, the costume betrayal, the escape, the scatting).  This just reaffirms how special The Jungle Book as a whole is!

06.
Goodbye May Seem Forever ~ The Fox and the Hound


I dare you to watch this and not shed a tear!  This whole message is just so heartbreaking (this film was so ahead of it's time, to be honest) and the way that the song is sung/spoken is just so much more emotionally impactful.  How in the world was this Oscar snubbed?!?!  

05.
Why Should I Worry? ~ Oliver and Company


Yup, this is a Disney movie!  Sadly, this one is largely forgotten about, but my childhood was all about Disney dogs, and Oliver and Company was one that circulated my VHS player constantly.  I just love the infectious and boisterous quality to this song, and who can resist singing along to that chorus line, which could be the best chorus up-step in the entirety of Disney music!  Oh, and this moment in the film is just sublime.

04.
Mother Knows Best ~ Tangled


Let's be honest, so much of the awesomeness of this cheeky song has to do with the way that Donna Murphy delivers every deliciously tactless line, but MY GOD does she sell it so well!  This is the epitome of perfect casting, and a great reprise at that.  Yes, Tangled will forever be remembered for that luminous At Last I See the Light (and that moment is the better of the two), but for me this catchy little jingle is easily the best and most inspired in the film.

03.
Do You Want to Build a Snowman? ~ Frozen


Fuck you Oscar!  I know, I know...I have no reason to gripe since Let it Go actually took home the Oscar, but the fact that this song wasn't even nominated is really disgusting.  While Let it Go had the world in a glow, this touching and tender opener really sets the tone for the film, and MY GOD did it get my tear ducts working overtime.  This also has the best staging of any Disney song (within the film) I've ever seen.  Heartfelt, tender, moving and beautifully composed; this is what a Disney song is all about!

02.
Part of Your World ~ The Little Mermaid


Wait, you mean that this wasn't largely considered to be the best song from The Little Mermaid?  How the HELL was this not nominated?  The hilarious thing is that the song was almost cut from the film because the director actually thought it slowed down the film.  I don't understand people sometimes.  This MAKES this movie!  Part of Your World is just astonishing and the Oscar snub is deplorable! 

01.
God Help the Outcasts ~ The Hunchback of Notre Dame


It may not be a song you instantly remember, but listen to it and you'll see why it is so deserving.  This tragic and powerful ballad defies the stigma that Disney songs are for little kids and proves that Disney has an old soul and can connect to an older audience.  Personally, I don't think that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a kids movie at all, but more an animated film for adults (those themes are...well...heavy) and this song perfectly encompasses everything that the film stands for.

And there you have it!  I hope that this was fun to read.  I had a lot of fun compiling this (I've been working on this list for weeks now) and while I did number them, the ranking varies as the days trickle by.  I'd love to hear your thoughts, your personal favorites and your rankings as well!

12 comments:

  1. Awesome list, Andrew!! I only included the Princess songs, so I'm glad we have a few in common! I love the songs from The Lion King, but no love for You'll Be In My Heart from Tarzan? That'd make my #1 I think if I were to include all Disney songs. Oh Be Our Guest is awesome, should've put that on my Honorable Mention.

    Glad Let it Go won, though it wasn't Idina's best performance on Oscar night. I blamed John Tralala for that, ahah.

    – ruth

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    1. You'll Be in My Heart was in the top 15, #13 I think. This was hard. Looking at all that Disney had to offer over the decades, it's hard to rank them because they all carry so much weight. They are either considered classics or purely nostalgic or both and so much more!

      Travolta is the worst, obviously.

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  3. Oh man, I really need to see Frozen. I think I saw maybe 4 animated movies in the last decade and Frozen looks like fun. I obviously don't know almost any of those songs except for Elton John's which is probably the best Disney song I heard.

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    1. Oh you must! Frozen is such a joy. And, as you can see, I totally agree that Elton's classic is the best!

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  4. Fantastic lists man! I love so many of these.

    Nominated: I'm glad "You'll Be in My Heart", which is my runner-up that year, almost made the cut. I'm not really a Phil Collins fan, but I dig most of his film compositions for some reason. I do kinda love "I See the Light" as well.

    Snubbed: I could've sworn "Why Should I Worry?" was nominated! So many snubs! "Ev'rybody Wants to Be A Cat", "Reflection", and "Part of Your World" easily should've been there.

    Bring on the '81 Fistis!

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    1. I love me some Phil Collins, but I did find his contributions to Tarzan to be a tad on the sappy side (I know, I know...this is Disney).

      The snubs are ridiculous. I have no idea how all those songs missed the cut.

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  5. Awesome list!! You'll Be In My Heart is one of my favorite Disney songs, I'm glad it almost made your list. Once Upon A Dream from Sleeping Beauty is another favorite of mine. I'm shocked to find out Reflections wasn't nominated! I thought it was. I loved Christina Aguilera's version of that song. I loved the songs from The Hunchback of Notre Dame as well.

    I wish I could share your love for The Fox and the Hound. I hate that one. It's too sad. lol

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    1. I should have posted my 'also rans' for the snubbed songs, because Once Upon a Dream was on there!

      And the sadness of Fox and Hound is what makes it so brilliant!

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  6. Call me crazy, but I think one of Disney's best songs is also by far their most under appreciated, "Little Wonders," from Meet The Robinsons. Maybe it's just a personal pick, but I'm sorry. That song is beautiful. Please give it a listen.

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    1. I agree with you that it is beautiful! Making this list was very hard, because there are so many wonderful songs to chose from. Unfortunately, it just couldn't make the cut for me.

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