Yesterday on Twitter, podcaster and blogger extraordinaire @SavidgeReads posted about his top five Disney tunes. That set “Castle in Spain” off in my brain and, because I can’t resist a list, I present below* my very own top ten Disney favorites. When I sat down to do this, I thought there would be more songs from the great soundtracks of the early 90s, but choosing individual tunes mostly led me in other directions.
1. “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins
In my opinion, the best Disney tunes have a whiff of nostalgia or melancholy in them and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” is no exception. The mix of joy and wistfulness in the two halves of this tune is just magnificently done.
2. “Cruella De Vil” from 101 Dalmatians
Best song about a villain ever? Perhaps. Sometimes I think this movie was made simply to justify the existence of this song. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The Replacements had a great big band swing version on Stay Awake, an album of Disney covers from the late 1980s that I highly recommend.
3. “Castle in Spain” from Babes in Toyland
Stay Awake was how I was introduced to this lesser-known song, but the original with Ray Bolger and Annette Funicello is pretty fun to watch since any time you get to see Bolger dance is a treat.
4. “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book
Speaking of Disney cover albums, my absolute favorite is Disney Songs the Satchmo Way where Louis Armstrong takes on the likes of “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” among others. But my favorite is “The Bare Necessities” because there is something about Armstrong’s delivery that injects just the right amount of pathos into this tune, taking it to another level.
5. “Little April Shower” from Bambi
An overlooked song in the Disney canon, “Little April Shower” manages to be both a basic round and symphonic tone poem, and is probably the closest thing to Fantasia that you’ll find in any other Disney film.
6. “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book
I didn’t think I would have two songs from the same movie here, but Louis Prima’s “I Wanna Be Like You” is just so much fun. [Side note to Disney: No one asked for a live action remake. Go away.]
7. “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast
“Beauty and the Beast” is the sappiest song on this list, but I love the sentiment that the best partners aren’t necessarily those that seem a perfect fit but rather the ones that challenge us to be better versions of ourselves. Plus, Angela Lansbury, bitches!
8. “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid
Sure Menken and Ashman ripped off their own “Somewhere That’s Green” theme for this showstopper, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is brilliant songwriting. The original “Let It Go” power anthem.
9. “Winnie the Pooh” from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
If you know me at all, you knew this would be on here. I can still occasionally be heard singing “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” if you catch me in the right mood.
10. “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin
As I’ve stated before, I’m not really a huge fan of animation, but if there is anything that sold me on its possibilities it’s this number by the late Robin Williams.
For the haters out there: No, not once did I consider putting “Let It Go” on this list. But I’m admittedly weak on post-Lion King Disney. What would be in your top ten? What would you put at #1? Let me know in the comment box below.
Coda: “Les Poissons” from The Little Mermaid
Both my French and American halves love this Disney take on French haute cuisine. Hee-hee-hee, hon-hon-hon!
* Note to email subscribers, there is embedded video in this post that may not appear in your email. Please click through to the actual post to see the complete list of selections.