I’ve been on a bit of a Disney kick lately. Feeding this kick is easy, because most people love talking about Disney and Pandora is free yo! Unlike when I get into a Bat binge and no one wants to discuss the implications of Bruce Wayne’s parenting style and how it shaped the different flaws of each of the boys, (Instilled horrifying fear of failure in Dick, turned Jason into a psychotic, made Tim distrustful of everyone around him, made Damian even more arrogant if that’s even possible.) and I wind up spending at least $100 on trade issues of comic books.
But a Disney binge just leads me to having fun conversations about which princess has the best hair, and which villain has the best song. (Aurora and Scar, natch!) But yesterday, as I listened to Huey Lewis croon out the lovely prologue to Oliver and Co., “Once Upon A Time In New York City,” and started thinking about the more underrated music in the Disney Song book.
Oh, sure, you’ve got your classics like “When You Wish Upon a Star,” your transcendent works like “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” and even your campy rememberings like “Cruella DeVille,” but these aren’t those songs, these are the songs that no one talks about because maybe they’re from a movie that’s not super great, or a character that people would rather forget about. Or the 60’s. Either way. I’m talking about those songs.
“I Won’t Say I’m In Love,” “I Can Go The Distance,” & “So You Wanna Be A Hero” from Hercules
I don’t think that Hercules is anyone’s favorite Disney movie. But it’s got a great voice cast. (James Woods and Danny DeVito), and three of the better songs that came out of that era. The Motown influenced, “I Won’t Say I’m Love” is one of my go to shower belts and “I Can Go The Distance” was a staple of my college Hang In There Kiddo Playlist. (Others included The Glee Cast Version of “Don’t Stop Believing,” not from the pilot but from The Regionals, Katy Perry’s “Firework,” and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” and “I’m Still Standing.”) And “So You Wanna Be Hero” is just a fun little number for Danny DeVito and contains the great chestnut, “Like painting a masterpiece, it’s a work of heart.”
“Colonel Hathi’s March” & “That’s What Friends Are For” from The Jungle Book
I’m not saying that all of the music from The Jungle Book is underrated, because “Bear Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You” are both considered classics, but “Colonel Hathi’s March” is one of the catchier tunes to come out of that time and “That’s What Friends Are For” is a pitch perfect Beatles parody, and deserves more credit.
“God Help The Outcasts” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I’m not going to beat around the bush, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is pretty damn bad. The animation is hardly stellar and the super dark elements don’t work, even in a cool gothic way like in Sleeping Beauty. But “God Help The Outcasts,” the song that Esmerelda sings as she tours the cathedral, asking for God’s protection for her people is one of composer Steven Schwartz’s best ballads. And he’s written some good ones. (Maybe you should listen to Wicked and then come back…) Also, I used to sing this one in high school so, I have a soft spot for it.
“I’ve Got Friends On The Other Side” & “Ma Belle Evangeline” from The Princess And The Frog
With all of the Tangled and Frozen love that gets passed around, I feel like The Princess And The Frog is the Edith Crawley of the bunch, people like it but they tend to forget about it when having conversations. “Ma Belle Evangeline” is another one of those pretty little ballads that tends to get overlooked, “I’ve Got Friends On The Other Side” is just a campy masterpiece. I mean, come on when the masks on Dr. Facilier’s wall come to life? That’s a great magical moment.
“Two Worlds,” “You’ll Be In My Heart,” “Son of Man,” “Trashin The Camp,” & “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan
I realize that this is basically that whole soundtrack, but I really love Tarzan and especially love the Phil Collins written soundtrack. “Son of Man” is a particular favorite and the pop version of “Trashin The Camp,” which features NSYNC along with Collins is a neat little time capsule and showed us just how good JT was long before SNL broke him as Greater Than Your Average Pop Star.
“The Second Star To The Right” from Peter Pan
Most of the music from Peter Pan isn’t much to write home about. In fact, watching “What Makes The Red Man Red,” is probably the only time I get really uncomfortable with past racism. I’m normally pretty good about time contextualization. But “The Second Star To The Right” is such a pretty little lullaby that no one really talks about, and it makes me sad.
“Once Upon A Time In New York City,” “Why Should I Worry,” “Streets of Gold,” “Perfect Isn’t Easy,” and “Good Company” from Oliver & Company
Another full soundtrack, because, well, this music is great. Also, Oliver & Company is just pretty underrated as a movie. But honestly the first three songs are darling love letters to the city, and in “Why Should I Worry” Dodger plays the piano with his tail, which is great, because if you didn’t know, Dodger is voiced by Billy Joel. Yes, that’s right, Billy Joel, as a dog, who plays the piano with his tail. It’s the freaking best thing in the world. “Once Upon A Time In New York City” is performed by Huey Lewis and is as sweet a song sung over late 80’s synth as possible. “Streets of Gold,” is brassy and makes you want to dance, “Perfect Isn’t Easy” is Bette Midler at her diva best, and if “Good Company” doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you might be dead inside. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you.
So, those are my favorite Disney songs that people forget about. What about you guys?