Disney has been dominating the film industry for 85 years, but its influence did not stop there. The lines and songs of most of their movies have been embedded in our minds like a broken record playing on loop. Now one knows what it is, but Disney songs contain a magical ingredient that is loaded with nostalgia and a boost of dopamine.
Disney produced countless iconic songs that became an integral part of the growing-up years of many. Some of the best ones include the Lion King’s Elton John classic, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (Billboard’s top-ranking), “A Whole New World” (from Aladdin), and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (from Encanto).
Now, let us have a run down memory lane. Hop on the magic carpet ride and bring your vault filled with enchanted Disney songs and the spirit of childhood with you, as we talk about the 20 Best Disney Songs of All Time!
Top 20 Best Disney Songs
1. “Circle of Life” (The Lion King)
There’s no better way to start this list of best Disney songs than to begin with the Circle of Life performed by the legendary Carmen Twillie and Lebo M. When you hear the intro of the song, you’ll probably feel a significant amount of childhood flashbacks rushing through your bloodstream. This song is too iconic to not be on this list. Apart from its prominent tune, the message of the song is very empowering; it tells how to appreciate life and the wonders of this world.
For those curious cats and lions out there, the lines at the beginning of this song are written in Zulu dialect which go like “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba” and “Sithi uhhmm ingonyama” which directly translate to “There comes a lion” and “Oh yes, it’s a lion”, respectively. Reminisce and go back through time by watching the film scene:
Related: Top 21 Songs About Family
2. “Beauty and the Beast” (Beauty and the Beast)
Who wouldn’t want to feel the pureness of true love? Well, this song will cuddle you through that magical moment. It will feel like waltzing on a massive red carpet and swaying under grand chandeliers, just feeling the moment.
But love isn’t always like that, it could be a very strange one, something you wouldn’t expect; but then, it becomes certain that you get to transform yourself into your best one just like what the song is about.
And who said love is blind? It isn’t. It’s seeing yourself through that special being and then deciding to change for the better. A beast might not be a beast forever.
3. “Part of Your World” (The Little Mermaid)
Who cares if you got the all of the riches and can afford to own pretty much everything your eyes can see when the one thing you need is something close to the unthinkable? You’ll probably do whatever it takes to get that, like how Ariel traded her voice for legs to be part of the world she wanted to be in, somewhere she thinks she belongs.
Would you also risk things? Well, it could also be worth it. While thinking about that, listen to Ariel’s beautiful voice in this video as she sings about the longings of her heart to be a part of another world very much different from the kingdom she’s sheltered in:
See also: 11 Songs About Sharks
4. “Hakuna Matata” (The Lion King)
I bet my bottom dollar that you sang the title in your head! Timon and Pumbaa made sure that you would. The song has an optimistic and light ambience thanks to the drums in the background and that sexy saxophone solo.
There are also tons of dialogues of Timon and Pumbaa educating Simba about handling life, but all of us have the same takeaway — to live life Hakuna matata, which means no worries for the rest of your days. Don’t we all want that level of carefreeness? Manifest the worry-free philosophy by listening to this song:
5. “A Whole New World” (Aladdin)
Love shows you a whole different world—something you’ve overlooked, but magically unveils when love finally runs through your soul. That’s exactly how Aladdin and Jasmine felt with each other.
Maybe love really opens your eyes to gaze into life’s wonders, showing you the world from a fantastic point of view. Hearing the song literally feels like opening doors and conquering places. It’s the kind of feeling that is nice to relive over and over; a delightful escape from life’s reality from time to time. Hop onto the magic carpet and see a world of enchantment and magic by watching this video:
6. “Reflection” (Mulan)
Disney is known for their jolly, euphoric and uplifting songs, but they also have strong contenders for those who want a tearjerker. One example of a great emotional song is Reflection which is sung by the Tony Award-winning singer, Lea Salonga.
The song is the anthem of individuals who are trying to prove or impress other people by not being their own selves and in the process, they lose their own identity. Mulan in the movie was experiencing the same thing.
The sad and heartfelt lyrics paired with the angelic and sentimental voice of Lea Salonga make this one of the tracks to add on your emotional playlist every time you feel gloomy and in need of comfort. Remember: the first step to reclaiming your identity is to actually acknowledge that it has slipped away. The rest will follow, naturally. Witness Mulan trying to figure out her identity on this video:
Related: 21 Songs About Hope
7. “Into the Unknown” (Frozen II)
“Into the Unknown” is an inspirational song for the adventurous and risk-takers out there. In the situation, Elsa is being called and bothered by voices forcing her to surrender to the uncertainty of life.
If you feel like you need a song that would tickle your desire for adrenaline, “Into the Unknown” is the perfect one to play. The beat, the lyrics, and the eerie voices in the background harmonize quite nicely in creating an exciting and thrilling ambience. Watch it here:
8. “Surface Pressure” (Encanto)
“Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop”. The song has a touch of onomatopoeic elements that make our hearts thump and go through a series of dug-dugs. The bold voice of Jessica Darrow fits the personality that is expected from the song lyrics.
The song is about a person that brushes off the pain and hardships he experiences and instead shows a tough facade to cover it up. This song punches hard on older siblings who sacrifice their dreams and energy for the betterment of their siblings’ future. What a very substantial song for a children’s movie!
9. “You’ll Be In My Heart” (Tarzan)
This is probably the most sentimental, selfless, warm, and heartfelt Disney song in this list. The song talks about the importance of ensuring a loved one that you will always be there to keep them safe and cared for, no matter what.
The love depicted in the song is highly defensive, implying that the person on the receiving end is either too young to fight for himself or is incapable of doing so (“…for one so small, you seem so strong, my arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm). Despite the fact that the person appears frail, the songwriter feels they are capable of enduring difficult situations for their love (“…this bond between us can’t be broken, I will be here don’t you cry”).
Basically, the song mainly dwells on the concept of loving someone to the end, against all odds. The song is too epitomic, a very Disney-song to write, and will always be in our hearts.
10.“Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas)
This is honestly one of the most meaningful best Disney songs ever written. You probably feel goosebumps forming on your skin while listening to this song. The song has the power to make you feel reconnected with nature.
The wind is invisible but listening to the song will help you appreciate its hidden colors. You will find the rhythm in wolf cries and mountain voices. This song is such an eye-opener: What we do to nature has repercussions. “If you cut it down, then you’ll never know… We need to paint with all the colors of the wind.” It’s the only way to see the world in a whole different perspective, something beyond what our eyes see.
11.“Let It Go” (Frozen)
This song gave everyone chills as we automatically imagine Elsa building her ice fortress while she sings the iconic and overplayed line “Let it go, let it go…” The powerful and stable voice of Idina Menzel, especially with the lines “I’m never going back, the past is in the past” etched the song in our hearts forever. There’s nothing much to say, because it’s mostly about the feels, really. Watch Elsa build her ice empire in this video:
12.“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” (The Lion King)
Love is such a wonderful feeling; sometimes, a song can replicate moments that have anyone feeling that love. And listening to this romantic ballad will make you fall in love, bigtime! Considering the calmness of the song, it’s almost like a caress of love, something that tells you to pour it all out.
Fun fact: the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was initially intended to be a duet by Timon and Pumbaa. Can you imagine that? Let’s see if you can visualize them singing this iconic number:
13. “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (Hercules)
Admit it, you’ve probably raved this song before for either of the two reasons, (a) you can’t get enough of Megara and the muses’ voices, or (b) you can totally relate with the lyrics, you in denial lover.
The exchange of vocal prowess between Megara and the muses was very entertaining to listen to. Also, how the message was worded was very nice, making it a default anthem for teenagers who prefer to repudiate their own feelings.
The last line of the song “At least out loud, I won’t say I’m in love”, is the common fall back of those who deny their feelings. But to be honest, if you can’t stop playing this song because of someone, it is very likely that you are in love with them (yikes!),
14. “Remember Me” (Coco)
I would like to give you a friendly reminder before watching Coco: prepare yourself a pint of ice cream, a bucket, and a box of tissue, because you would certainly end up crying before the closing credits roll.
“Remember Me” is the main song of the Disney film Coco, and is the secret behind the film’s tear jerking potential. The song was purposely played in two different versions. If you want to know why, go ahead and watch the film yourself. If you already know why, what a plot twist, right?
See also: 11 Songs About Growing Up
15. “How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)
For those who feel stuck to something and probably think that there is no means to break those chains, this song is for you. “And the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me… And no one knows how far it goes if the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me… One day I’ll know, how far I’ll go“. You’ll realize how far you can go if you make your way out there.
You cannot realize your full potential if you cage yourself within what you think are your limits. Believe you are limitless (the limit does not exist, hah!). It’s just that sometimes, the only thing that’s stopping you is yourself. Come on, you’ve got this! The song thinks you can do it. No one knows how far you’ll go, dear. No one.
Next: 21 Songs About Storms
16. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (Encanto)
Let us not talk about Bruno, but we should definitely talk about this song. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” took the internet by surprise. The song is a collaborative project of six voice cast members, which resulted in an overwhelming but pleasantly sounding harmony.
The lyrics and the emotions presented by the cast members were light, very catchy, and potentially addictive. This song dominated the charts like a storm and before we know it, the world is talking about Bruno.
17. “When Will My Life Begin?” (Tangled)
All I can say is, starting your day by listening to “When Will My Life Begin” would undoubtedly give you that moral boost you need. It is the perfect track opener in your “Getting into the Workplace” playlist.
The acoustic guitar and the aggressive drums along with Rapunzel bragging how productive she is every single day, is more than enough to motivate you. Apart from that, it also talks about how not leaving your comfort zone could potentially lead to a not thrilling lifestyle, and that spicing things up and discovering new things should be a must. Watch a day with Rapunzel through this video:
18. “For the First Time in Forever” (Frozen)
Aren’t we all excited for our first-times? Just like Anna’s delight when she was finally able to see people again at her sister’s coronation. “For the first time in forever, there’ll be magic, there’ll be fun.” You will really feel Anna’s enthusiasm and hopefulness, something to brighten your day.
First times tend to be unforgettable memories and if it’s your first time hearing this song, you’re missing one good song there. Give it a try! Probably you’ve heard this song a hundred times, well feel it more now. It will hit differently.
19. “What Else Can I Do?” (Encanto)
Apart from having a beautiful and evergreen music video, Dianne Guerrero and Stephanie Beatriz’ voices were jaw dropping like flowers blooming in the springtime. As Isabela roams around her garden, she realizes that beauty is in all shapes, sizes, colors, and forms, which is a fruitful lesson that should be taught to everyone: “I wanna feel the shiver of something new, I’m so sick of pretty, I want something true, don’t you?” Revisit the song here:
20. I See the Light (Tangled)
This song made the whole Disney fanatic community want to go to the nearest body of water, rent a canoe, light a lantern, and let it float freely in the heavens as you whisper a wish in hopes that it will come true. When magic and fairy tales morph into a song, “I See the Light” would probably be it without a doubt.
You may have grown old with Disney, but the magic their songs and films possess will always have a special place in our hearts. Whether you play their songs incessantly, casually or on occasions that beg for a burst of nostalgia, we still have this deep unbreakable connection with their songs.
Your list of Top 20 songs may have been different from what was on this list, but this comes to show how the songs of Disney are appealing to audiences of different ages, races, and personalities. Disney has the slogan “The Most Magical Place on Earth”, but through their music, we can start to assume that the most magical place on Earth can be found within ourselves.
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.