In the lead-up to the release of the live-action The Little Mermaid, Consequence will be looking back at the Disney Renaissance and how it shaped our culture. This time, we’re updating our ranked list of every Disney song ever — this feature originally ran in November 2016, and it has been updated to include animated Disney releases since that time, up to 2022’s Strange World.
Things make a real, lasting mark on your brain when you’re a kid. That encompasses the fears, loves, insecurities, dreams, and other things one will likely describe to a therapist as an adult, but other things stick, too. Songs, especially. The impulse children have to press “play” over and over and over again can leave all kinds of wonderful and sometimes useless things stuck in your head.
It’s part of why creating entertainment for children can be so meaningful, because with some talent and skill, it’s possible to give a young person a song they’ll carry with them for decade after decade. Well after they’ve stopped thinking about the works of A.A. Milne as anything but some stories they liked when they were young, one can hear the phrase “Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood” and know immediately what comes next, and what comes after that. That stuff lingers. It lasts. It matters.
That’s all a big part of why, for reasons beyond its massive size and reach and bank accounts, Disney matters. That’s not to diminish the very real cultural significance of the films in the Disney animated canon (that’s films released by Walt Disney Feature Animation, beginning with Snow White in 1937), many of which can (and do) appeal to adults as well as children. Beauty and the Beast is a stunning achievement in filmmaking, no matter the audience demographic.
But because so many of us were introduced to many of their films at a young age, those movies, and the songs they contain, have the potential to stay with a person for a lifetime. The relationship one has to those songs and movies may change — spoiler: not all of them have aged well — but they’re far from easily forgotten.