10 Even More Under-Appreciated Disney Songs

That’s right- there’s still a TON of great Disney music not getting the credit it deserves! Obscurity is one thing, but sometimes just being in proximity to other great material can make even the best music get missed.

If you haven’t read (and rightly appreciated) the first two lists of songs, they can be found here and here. After you finish this list, be sure to comment below if we’re still missing a fantastic, overlooked piece of Disney music!

***

A Girl Worth Fighting For

Mulan (1998)

Why it’s Amazing:

The soldiers and friends of Mulan (or Ping, at the time) are some of the rowdiest, most fun secondary characters in a Disney film, and this “song” does an excellent job highlighting them. Spoken more than sung, the so-called perfect woman for each of them is described, highlighting Mulan’s hidden gender identity further, and showing the growing camaraderie between them all.
Possibly the best aspect of this song isn’t the song itself, but how it ends. It’s a complete change in tone, going from such a joyful moment of levity, to one of the darkest scenes in Disney history (in my humble opinion).

Great Line:

Army: But when we come home in victory they’ll line up at the door
Ling: What do we want?
Army: A girl worth fighting for
Ling: Wish that I had
All: A girl worth fighting for
A girl worth fighting-

All in the Golden Afternoon…

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Why it’s Amazing:

Disney music has always been beautiful, but there’s something magic about the choral numbers from this era of animation. Having a song which highlights the voices so well is a joy to watch/listen, and the whimsy of the garden flowers is a true masterpiece in the old style of hand-drawn cartoons.

Interestingly, the title of this song shares something with the original work of Lewis Carrol- it is the title of the poem at the beginning, explaining how the story came to be.

Great Line:

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
For especially in the month of June
There’s a wealth of happiness and romance
All in the golden afternoon!

Trashin’ the Camp

Tarzan (1999)

Why it’s Amazing:

Proving once again you don’t necessarily need “words” to make a catchy song to sing along to, this upbeat piece by the masterful Phil Collins does a fantastic job of catching the energy for apes destroying a campsite! Sung in a jazz scat style, it’s probably one of the catchiest songs from that era.

More importantly, it features an in-their-prime *NSYNC. 90’s kids rejoice.

Great Line:

…it’d be ridiculous for me to write it out. Just go take a listen.

Up, Down and Touch the Ground

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Why it’s Amazing:

“Body positivity” isn’t something that normally comes from this kind of source, but the Sherman brothers were ahead of their time in many, many ways. As it happened, the two songwriters weren’t actually sold on the whole idea of Winnie the Pooh, until a chance conversation with Tony Walton, the famed costume designer behind Mary Poppins. He shared his love for the portly bear, letting them know how much it meant to have a character that embraced his size as one of his best features.

Great Line:

I am short, fat and proud of that

And so, with all my might

I up, down and up, down to

My appetite’s delight

Friend Like Me

Aladdin (1992)

Why it’s Amazing:

Now, just because this list is about the underrated tunes doesn’t mean you won’t know ‘em! There’s certainly a saturation of this song in Disney media and in their theme park entertainment. But still, I don’t feel it gets the credit its due.

Of course, we can’t talk about this song without bringing up the brilliance of the late, great Robin Williams. Before his casting, this song had an entirely different tone, but was rewritten specifically to highlight his genius. He runs the rolodex of pop culture references in a couple short minutes, with animations (just barely) keeping up with the size of his performance.

Great Line:

So dontcha sit there slack-jawed, buggy-eyed
I’m here to answer all your midday prayers
You got me bona fide, certified
You got a genie for your chargé d’affaires

I’ll Always Be Irish

The Happiest Millionaire (1967)

Why it’s Amazing:

This was the last film Walt Disney himself was personally involved in before his passing, and this song is a nod to the man from the Sherman brothers. It’s a catchy little tune, and all about remembering who you are.

Speaking of nods, there’s a touching reference to President John F. Kennedy, a fellow Irishman who was tragically assassinated in the short years preceding the film’s release.

Great Line:

I’ll always be Irish, I’ll shout it good and loud!
I’ll always be Irish, (of his heritage he’s proud)
I’m proud of Irish blarney, and Irish sentiment,
And I’ll bet some day we get an Irish President. 

He Mele No Lilo (A Song For Lilo)

Lilo and Stitch (2002)

Why it’s Amazing:

The Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures are some of the richest in the world, and this song pays tribute to their stories and traditions in a way few other “movie songs” have.

Performed by legendary Hawaiian chanter Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu, The song is beautiful even if you don’t understand a word of it, but made even more so for the meaning behind it. Do yourself a favor and look up the full translation, and learn a bit about the culture.

Great Line:

O Kalakaua he inoaO ka pua mae`ole i ka la
Ka pua maila i ka mauna
I ke kuahiwi o Mauna Kea

Translation:

Kalakaua is his name
The flower that doesn’t wither in the sun
The flower blooms on the mountain
on the high hill of Mauna Kea

Will the Sun Ever Shine Again

Home on the Range (2004)

Why it’s Amazing:

While this may be one of the least popular Disney films in more recent years, it does have its moments. This song has a notably famous voice behind it in Bonnie Raitt, and is a nice departure from the otherwise upbeat film.

Composer Alan Menken has also stated that he wrote the song as a reflection on the events of Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a lot of depth for what most consider a rather campy film, so it doesn’t necessarily fit, but still stands alone as a lively piece.

Great Line:

Rain is pourin’ down like the heavens are hurtin’.
Seems like it’s been dark since the devil knows when.
How do you go on, never knowin’ for certain,
Will the sun ever shine again?

My Lullaby

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998)

Why it’s Amazing:

The infamous straight-to-video sequels of this era in Disney filmmaking tend to get knocked around a fair bit, but this “next generation” for the Lion King films is actually quite enjoyable, and has some excellent music.

Case in point is this (not terribly relaxing) bedtime song for Kovu, Scar’s heir-apparent, as sung by his mother Zira. It’s the spiritual successor to “Be Prepared” from the first film, but with a lot more resentment, and expectations put on the young cub.

And man, is it dark.

Great Line:

The sound of Simba’s dying gasp

His daughter squealing in my grasp

His lionesses’ mournful cry

That’s my lullaby

The Bells of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Why it’s Amazing:

If you’ve read my previous two best lists (right here and here, in case you missed them), you probably already knew another Hunchback of Notre Dame song was on the way.

It’s- it’s just the best. Guys. It’s literally the best.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Alan Menken considers this his best opening song, and it’s easy to see why. It’s big, layered, and an amazing amount of storytelling in a very short length of time.

Fun fact, it was a last-minute addition to the film, as Frollo’s character was changed from being an archdeacon to the law enforcer we know. How he came to be in charge of Quasimodo needed to be explained, and this song was the answer!

Great Line:

You can lie to yourself and your minions
You can claim that you haven’t a qualm
But you never can run from nor hide what you’ve done from the eyes
The very eyes of Notre Dame

***

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Did I miss an absolute gem of an under-appreciated Disney tune? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Share your thoughts and comment!