Tag Archives: Beauty and the Beast

My Seven Favorite Disney Soundtracks

26 Jul

I’ve been meaning to write this entry ever since the beginning of July when a group of high school friends and I got together for a day of Disney marathoning. Most people might find the idea of a group of girls, ranging from twenty to twenty-two in age, sitting around in sleeping bags and geeking out over these animated features strange, but not us. I grew up with these movies, as I know the rest of the girls did, so rewatching them all in one sitting felt a bit like coming home.

While rewatching all these films, I couldn’t help but focus on the music aspect of each one (it’s hard not to when you’ve got eight girls screaming the lyrics to every song). I then decided to write up an entry on my favorite Disney soundtracks.

(Side note: These are all just animated features. If not, then Newsies would be on here.)

Aladdin is on here because, like every other soundtrack on this list, every song in it is a home run. From ‘Arabian Nights’ to ‘A Whole New World’, this soundtrack is stellar. The weakest song is probably the ‘Prince Ali (Reprise)’ and I don’t even skip that one when it pops up on my iTunes shuffle. Disney did it right by recruiting the one and only Alan Menken (ie. the man I wish would compose the soundtrack of my life) to act as the composer, with lyricist duties given to the amazing Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Rice went on to win an Oscar for ‘A Whole New World’, and Menken won the Oscar for Best Score. You can’t go wrong with a soundtrack that’s got Lea Salonga’s voice; not to mention Robin Williams nails both of his Genie songs. And, honestly, what small child didn’t run around their house singing “One Jump (Reprise)” to themselves? What? That was just me? I see how it is…

Another Menken-Ashman collaboration masterpiece. This soundtrack won both Best Score and Best Song (‘Beauty and the Beast’) at the Oscars the year it was released. This is a gorgeous soundtrack, with a beautiful score and a wonderful voice cast. Paige O’Hara’s Belle is lovely, Jerry Orbach’s Lumiere is fun, and – for god’s sake – it’s got Angela fucking Lansbury in it. The ‘Belle (Reprise)’ remains to be one of my favorite songs to emote to.

As most Disney fanatics know, The Little Mermaid was the start of the Disney Renaissance (ie. the era where Disney put out amazing movie after amazing movie, lasting from the late 80’s until about 2000). It also was the first Disney feature Alan Menken was hired to score, and, you guessed it, collaborated with Howard Ashman (though the two had worked prior on the stage musical Little Shop of Horrors). Little Mermaid is probably my favorite of this group of soundtracks. I could take or leave ‘Fathoms Below’, but you seriously cannot go wrong with a soundtrack that has ‘Part of Your World’, ‘Kiss the Girl’, ‘Under the Sea’ (which won Best Song (the film winning Best Score as well)), and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’. This is also my favorite of all the Disney scores. Whenever I listen to the track ‘Main Titles’ I get all choked up when the music swells at the end of it. This soundtrack is just lovely music at its finest.

I remember being a kid and my mother verbally expressing distaste for this movie. Whether it was because it was so different from the original source material (which would understandably tick off my English teacher mother) or because it was much darker/grittier than the past Disney films, I’m still not entirely sure. But this movie has, without a doubt, one of the loveliest soundtracks out there. With Alan Menken composing and Stephen Schwartz taking up the reins as lyricist (by this point Howard Ashman had passed away from AIDs), the two present a truly amazing score. ‘Hellfire’ is irrefutably one of the best songs has ever made, which I doubt Disney will ever admit to due to the song’s inappropriate for children feel. It’s also got ‘Heaven’s Light’, ‘Out There’, ‘The Bells of Notre Dome’, and ‘God Help the Outcasts’. The score was nominated for an Oscar but, alas, it did not win that year. Also, you really can’t go wrong with Tom Hulce singing, like, at all.

Everyone loves The Lion King. If you say you don’t, you’re a liar. What’s more, everyone loves the songs in this film. And guess what! It wasn’t done by Alan Menken! I know, I’m as shocked as you are. This gorgeous score was done by Hans Zimmer, with the delightful Tim Rice and Elton John on lyrics. It features many wonderful vocal talents (Nathan Lane being my favorite), and every song and track is pretty much a win. I’d list off all my favorite songs, but that would be, um, all of them, so I’ll save myself the trouble. (Fun fact! During the recording of ‘Be Prepared’ Jeremy Irons’ voice gave out, so Jim Cummings (ie. Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Ray the firefly, Pete (Mickey’s enemy), Steele from Balto, and pretty much a character in every animated thing you’ve ever watched because, holy fuck, he’s awesome) came in and finished singing the song for Irons.)

I remember being eight and going into the movie theater to see Mulan. I was not excited. Leading up to this film all I had seen was a teaser for it that did not go in-depth into the plot. Well, it did, I was just a dumb kid and didn’t pick up on it. All I took away from the trailer is that a big war happens and… yeah, that’s all I was expecting¬† (again: dumb kid was I). Of course, by the time the movie was over I was in love with it, and what really helped was the fact that Mulan has such a kick ass soundtrack. Scored by Jerry Goldsmith, with lyrics by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel, the soundtrack has such memorable songs as ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’, ‘Reflection’, and ‘A Girl Worth Fighting For’. Not to mention they brought Lea motherfucking Salonga back, which is just the best.

I love, love, love, love, LOVE this soundtrack. It’s my favorite thing to put on when I’m biking. Or working out. Or walking. Or, well, doing just about anything. With a score by Mark Mancina score and songs by Phil Collins (who took the Oscar for ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’ (sorry South Park)), this is a gorgeous piece of art. The funny thing is that, out of all the soundtracks on this list, this is the only one where most of the songs are not sung by characters, but rather serve as background music, which works perfectly. The only two songs that integrate the characters from the film is the short version of ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’ (Glenn Close) and the whole ‘Trashing the Camp’ scene (which, oddly enough, is the only song I can’t stand on the entire soundtrack. There’s even a cover of it done by N*Sync on the soundtrack. Why the hell does that exist?). But seriously, ‘Strangers Like Me’ is one of the greatest songs ever, and there is no better power song than ‘Son of Man’.