What is the best Disney song? The obvious probably come to mind — like Lion King, Frozen, and Encanto — but when you think about it, a lot of the songs Disney produces aren’t just cute little accompaniments to family movies. A lot of the songs Disney movies have produced over the years are actual, objective bangers.
After all, not only have several of its animated movies been adapted into musicals, but we’ve also seen songs nominated for Oscars, Emmys, and breaking all kinds of records on the music charts in the US and UK. The truth is, it’s kind of a shame that as a grown adult, you can’t listen to Disney soundtracks in public without getting a funny look or two. But it’s not my fault — if a song slaps, a song slaps. If we only got past the stigma of Disney only being for kids, imagine how feral we’d all get to the Encanto soundtrack in clubs and festivals.
In that spirit, I’d like to rank a selection of the best Disney songs ranked— from Pixar, to Disney’s ‘golden era’ of animation, and even a couple of Disney Channel Original Movies — from “really good” to “really, really good.” And before you say anything, don’t knock Disney Channel Original Movies until you’ve tried them.
What are the best Disney songs?
- Determinate (Lemonade Mouth)
- Wouldn’t Change a Thing (Camp Rock 2)
- The Climb (The Hannah Montana Movie)
- We Don’t Talk About Bruno (Encanto)
- He Mele No Lilo (Lilo and Stitch)
- Take Me Away (Freaky Friday)
- I Won’t Say I’m In Love (Hercules)
- Let It Go (Frozen)
- Hellfire (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
- Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
- Hakuna Matata (The Lion King)
- Surface Pressure (Encanto)
- Friend Like Me (Aladdin)
- Be Prepared (The Lion King)
- Bet on It (High School Musical 2)
- Be Our Guest (Beauty and the Beast)
- Nobody Like U/Pandas Unite (Turning Red)
- (Hey Now) This is What Dreams Are Made Of (The Lizzie McGuire Movie)
- Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)
- Remember Me (Coco)
- Circle of Life/King of Pride Rock (Lion King)
- Every single song from the Tarzan soundtrack (Tarzan)
Determinate (Lemonade Mouth)
If Lemonade Mouth were a real band you’d find me going feral at a concert: screaming, vomiting and crying the moment ‘Determinate’ starts because this song truly is better than anything most modern bands actually produce.
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The level of rebellion and anarchy that comes through in this song is really unheard of with Disney’s squeaky-clean image, and shows that they shouldn’t be afraid to move away from their tried and tired formula. That little ginger kid’s rap solo, especially, probably had Lin-Manuel Miranda shaking in his boots.
Wouldn’t Change a Thing (Camp Rock 2)
I will never stop complaining about how criminally underrated this song was. The harmonies. The conflict. The yearning. Mitchie and Shane really were the Romeo and Juliet of the mediocre musical summer camp world, and you know what? I’m just gonna say it. This song is better than anything in the first Camp Rock movie.
The Climb (The Hannah Montana Movie)
After hearing this song for the first time, I felt like anything was possible. I was the master of my own destiny – as soon as school finished at 3pm. In all seriousness though, this song is really hopeful and uplifting, and something a lot of teenage girls definitely needed to hear.
We Don’t Talk About Bruno (Encanto)
There’s so much going on in this song, from Camilo’s “sevun fooot fraaaaammeee” to Mariano’s little walk, and all the overlapping voices and accounts of Bruno’s wrongdoings helping to give a sense of individuality of every single Madrigal character.
He Mele No Lilo (Lilo & Stitch)
Lilo and Stitch is one of my comfort films. It really is one of the best things to watch on a bad day. The opening song of Lilo and Stitch is sung in Hawaiian by the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus, and it really elicits a soothing, ethereal vibe that makes you want to go and feed sandwiches to fish (don’t do that).
Take Me Away (Freaky Friday)
Lindsey Lohan’s pop punk band in Freaky Friday walked so Avril Lavinge could run. There’s no question about it. But what makes this song truly something else is Jamie Lee Curtis as teenager Anna (it’s a confusing plot — we’ll explain another time) killing it backstage and saving the day with her electric guitar solo. Has she ever considered a guitar battle with Michael Myers?
I Won’t Say I’m In Love (Hercules)
The Muses providing Motown backing to most of the songs in Hercules really helps the soundtrack stand out and brings something extra special to it. And when combined with Susan Egan’s voice? A heavenly match fit for the Gods.
Let It Go (Frozen)
Of course, I couldn’t put together a list without including ‘Let It Go’. As a theatre kid, I adore Idina Menzel — her voice sounds like liquid gold to me. And I’m such a big fan of the build in the first half of this song up until the moment Elsa is fully able to unleash.
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It really is a power ballad, and with its message about letting go of familial expectations and being your true self, it’s clear to see why it’s so popular.
Hellfire (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
When I went back to watch Hunchback of Notre Dame as an adult, I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell this movie was ever deemed to be appropriate for kids. That being said, the deep complexity, religious imagery and conflict of Frollo in this song really helps elevate Hunchback’s status as one of the richest and most compelling Disney movies of all time.
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Although I’m frankly concerned about the amount of eggs Gaston claims to eat in this song, it makes laddish camaraderie seem so appealing that I almost started liking men.
Hakuna Matata (The Lion King)
My therapist might have advised me against using avoidance as a coping mechanism, but Timon and Pumbaa make it seem so damn fun. And the beat drop? With grown up Simba? Perfection.
Surface Pressure (Encanto)
I’m a middle child.
Friend Like Me (Aladdin)
This isn’t a song. It’s a spectacle. It’s a perfect demonstration of the extent of Genie’s power. He isn’t just capable of a wet little ballad or a kind-of-funky song, he’s limitless, and so is this performance. And above all that, he isn’t just entertaining, he’s just a damn lot of fun, too.
Be Prepared (The Lion King)
If I was one of the hyenas wondering whether to kill Mufasa, and then Scar pulled out this banger I would instantly side with him. This is definitely the best Disney villain song of the lot, oozing sarcasm, personality, and pure, unadulterated evil. Scar is sneaky, cunning, but frighteningly persuasive, and by the end of this song I’m usually bopping along and thinking Scar kind of has a point.
Bet on It (High School Musical 2)
The angst. The pain. The sass. What I love about this song, and High School Musical in general, is the way that they manage to turn the most low-stakes problems possible (like having a cushy summer job) into full-blown existential crises that lead to fist-pumping, vein-popping, unforgettable tunes like this.
Be Our Guest (Beauty and the Beast)
Being locked up in a mysterious castle against your will with an angry monster is okay sometimes. Especially when anthropomorphic kitchen utensils and furniture give the most grandiose, glamorous, all-dancing cabaret performance of their life.
Nobody Like U/Pandas Unite (Turning Red)
For a fictional band, 4*TOWN’s general discography is pretty solid. But when combined with the chanting of Mei’s aunts as part of the ritual to save her mum? Mei’s friends beatboxing? 4*TOWN hitting that incredible high note?
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I can’t express enough how when I watched that scene, I quite literally ascended because all those musical elements are just *chef’s kiss*.
(Hey Now) This is What Dreams Are Made Of (The Lizzie McGuire Movie)
Sing to me, Paolo. The exposure of evil evil Paolo, his career of lies, and disgusting treatment of national treasure Lizzie McGuire was a formative moment for every zillennial kid.
As well as the song being addictively catchy, you get to see Hilary Duff duet with… Hilary Duff, which not only slaps, but is also insanely trippy and reminds us all that we really do need a Lizzie McGuire reboot.
Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Donny Osmond and played a VHS tape of him in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at least eight times a day. That man can sing, and he definitely carries this motivational call to arms that really makes you feel like that you too can be as swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon. That stuff. You know the drill.
Remember Me (Coco)
We hear Remember Me a few times throughout the film, but the most gut-wrenching and beautiful rendition is when Miguel , after meeting his great-great grandfather, is able to connect with the mute, elderly Mama Coco through the power of music: helping her to remember her loving father and family.
The song is gentle, earnest, but all the while pleading that the memory of lost loved ones live on, and expresses one of the most basic human desires out there to be loved.
Circle of Life/King of Pride Rock (Lion King)
If you’ve never held up a small animal (or person) to the sky while screaming ‘Circle of Life’ at the top of your lungs, you’re either lying, or very boring.
There’s something about the chanting combined with the beautiful animation, and existential lyrics about life which make both the Circle and Life and King of Pride Rock not just songs, but borderline spiritual experiences. Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer all outdid themselves.
Every single song from the Tarzan soundtrack (Tarzan)
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Phil Collins didn’t have to go as hard as he did on the Tarzan soundtrack, but he did. He did it for us. The man recorded that album like he had rent to pay. Strangers Like Me? Banger. Son of Man? Banger. You’ll Be In My Heart? Banger. Two Worlds? Banger.
The only thing more feral than Tarzan in that movie was Phil Collins in the studio as he created the best film soundtrack to ever exist. I hope they had emergency services outside that studio because Phil was on fire.