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The Ultimate Guide

‘Hakuna Matata’ didn’t make the cut. Stop whining! Read more

No. 10: "Colors of the Wind" / Pocahontas / Released in 1995

This song transcends the differences between Pocahontas and John Smith by literally painting a picture of the natural world. With the beautiful vocals of Judy Kuhn soaring along with the vivid imagery (remember, they put their best artists on this film) it is almost impossible not to find yourself inspired to run outside and hug a tree or small, furry woodland creature.

No. 9: "Be Our Guest" / Beauty and the Beast / Released in 1991

This song captures all the opulence of a Broadway show without actually attending a Broadway show. Sadly I missed out on the actual live performance at Shea’s of the show that ran for 13 years in NYC. Still, I’m satisfied because the late Jerry Orbach as Lumiere is perhaps the most charming Candelabra who will ever entertain you.

No. 8: "Go the Distance" / Hercules / Released in 1997

This song is so empowering. It captures the feeling that any one of us can overcome a sad and lonely existence to find where we belong. All you have to do is go the distance with Hercules as he belts out over the key change. Also, points for the hilarity of how much my dad enjoys the Michael Bolton version of this song and Michael Bolton’s hair.

No. 7: "Out There" / The Hunchback of Notre Dame / Released in 1996

Go watch this movie right now if you haven’t seen it. It is one of the most underrated Disney films. It may be a little mature for young kids, but the music is on a higher level to match the content and Tom Hulce, of “Amadeus” fame, has an absolutely lovely voice.

No. 6: "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" / Cinderella / Released in 1950

Another song about dreaming, this wistful ballad, sung by Ilene Woods as Cinderella, hearkens back to the days of full voiced swing and jazz singers leading into 1950 when Cinderella debuted. When you hear it actually seems possible that ‘the dream that you wish will come true.'

No. 5: "When You Wish Upon a Star" / Pinocchio / Released in 1940

Maybe the most classic of all Disney classics, this song is played before each and every film and is the basis for the Disney World Wishes fireworks show. When Jiminy Cricket starts to narrate, I’ll admit, I get a little teary. Also, the ‘N Sync version of this song from the original Disney Mania CD is very well-harmonized.

No. 4: "I'll Make a Man out of You" / Mulan / Released in 1998

While "Reflection" may be one of my personal favorites from this film to belt out in the shower, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” has staying power as a fan favorite. What is more fun than singing along to this anthem -- sung by the charismatic youngest Osmond brother, Donnie -- with all of your friends? Nothing. Let’s get down to business.

No. 3: "Under the Sea" / The Little Mermaid / Released in 1989

At the heart of "The Little Mermaid" is the struggle to find one’s place in the world. This upbeat, tropical fanfare may be an attempt to discourage Ariel from following her prince, but it also is about family and appreciating that life is good. Lead vocalist Sebastian, the tiny, yet punchy crab voiced by Samuel E. Wright, is at once one of the funniest and most enjoyable characters to watch and listen to throughout the film.

No. 2: "A Whole New World" / Aladdin / Released in 1992

Originally the star of the hit musical, "Miss Saigon," Lea Salonga’s voice lends a magic all its own to this most famous of Disney duets. A love ballad for the ages, it continues to delight fans of the film and pipe onto wedding dance floors across America.

No. 1: "The Circle of Life" / The Lion King / Released in 1994

Fun fact: "The Lion King" was the secondary project at Disney’s studios. Top artists and musicians were assigned to "Pocahontas," while the newbies and slackers were assigned to "The Lion King." That this majestic theme was the product of underdogs helps to bring this iconic song from one of Disney’s most beloved films to the top of this list.

Disclaimer

Now, before anyone gets upset that their favorite is not on here, I am not claiming that this is a definitive list and that I would be able to survive with only these songs on my playlist (I wouldn’t.) To me these songs capture the spirit of classic Disney films, the joy of watching and sharing the music together with friends and family.

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