As I get ready for my next trip to Disney World, I’ve been listening to a lot of Disney music and since I spent a large amount of time thinking about my relationship to musical theater this summer, I decided to talk about the way Disney songs fit into the general Musical Theater song categories.
A Character song is a song that basically sets up a character’s thesis statement. Sometimes, an “I Want” song (chronicled here) is a character song, but not all character songs are “I Want” songs. (You know, it’s a squares and rectangles sort of a situation.) So I’m trying to steer clear of “I Wants,” here. Some classic character songs include, “I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say No,” “The Worst Pies In London,” ” “Popular,” “Master Of The House,” “I Am What I Am,” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”
5. “Why Should I Worry” from Oliver And Company
Oliver features a couple of great character songs, and one of them is going to be in runners up, but “Why Should I Worry,” got the spot because, I mean, it’s a Billy Joel song, sung by a dog, who then plays piano with his tail. The song introduces us to Dodger, a too cool for school mutt, who recruits adorable kitty Oliver into the life of an animal of the streets. Also, he plays the piano with his tail.
4. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid
I love The Little Mermaid, fiercely, and this song, the introduction of Ursula The Sea Witch is such an integral part of what makes it amazing. Ursula lays out her whole deal on the line in this song, which she still manages to use to trick Ariel into going along with her plan. Also, like every from The Little Mermaid, it is masterfully and brightly performed.
3. “Let It Go” from Frozen
One of my favorite things is when the rest of the world catches on to something that subcultures have known for a long time. And “Let It Go,” gave theater people that when the rest of the world realized that Idina Menzel is amazing, and we should listen to her belt high d’s for always and forever. Also, “Let It Go,” gives Elsa her grand moment, the moment where she realizes that her power, while terrifying is also beautiful, and that she can’t hide from what’s inside of her anymore.
2. “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King
We get two character’s life statements in this song, both Timon and Pumbaa lay out their “problem free philosophy,” as they teach Simba about life with “no worries,” and hey, this song introduced us to what would later be one of the greatest song and dance teams ever, as the song finishes up with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick harmonizing.
1. “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin
Not only would my brother stop speaking to me if I didn’t choose this one, (His favorite Disney song from his favorite Disney Movie) I happen to agree that it’s the best in this section. Tailor made to it’s performer, as many character songs are, laying out who the character is and relentlessly catchy. Robin Williams gave us a lifetime of amazing performances, but this is probably my favorite.
Runners Up: “Perfect” from Oliver And Company, “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled, “You’re Welcome” from Moana