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.
Why dig into this catalog? Well, because lists are fun, of course. But it’s also worthwhile to take a spin on the carousel and head back in time, revisiting characters and melodies first encountered at a young age. It’s valuable to then, while your mind remembers what it’s like to love something so unabashedly, explore some other stories and songs you missed.
Beyond all that stuff, Disney also makes some damn good songs, and great music is never a waste of time. Disney has employed some legendary composers and lyricists, from the powerhouse team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, to the Sherman Brothers, who wrote many, many songs that millions of people know by heart. It can’t be said that every single film has at least one musical gem, if only because a few have no songs at all. But most of them do. Remember Home on the Range? Neither did we. That thing’s got a few great, little tunes hidden away.
It’s also important to explore the stuff that helped to shape us as people, and our society as a whole. There’s some really racist shit in this list — some of those songs are still great songs; some are the kind of garbage it’s easy to dismiss. There are a lot of really restrictive ideas about gender — do you have any idea how many songs in the Disney catalog romanticize housework? — and some extremely unrealistic depictions of love and romance (again, see your therapist).
But there are also songs that inspire, challenge, and provoke thought. On reflection, that one scary song from Beauty and the Beast isn’t just scary, but illustrates the danger of a mob mentality and was written by a man dying of AIDS just as the ‘80s were being ushered out the door. Yes, it’s frightening, and it serves the plot. But it does more, because art can be both things. To a child, one story. To an adult, perhaps many stories in one. One thing’s for sure: There may be 55 films, but the stories are countless.
So here they are, all the songs in the Disney animated canon, from Aladdin to Zootopia. If Disney transformed a song in any way, from giving an old melody new lyrics (The Lion King’s “The Hula Song”) to creating a whole new work, it’s included. Here’s hoping there’s at least one new gem waiting for you in here or one priceless tune you didn’t even realize you remembered. It’s OK to sing along. No one’s watching. Just follow the bouncing ball.
— Allison Shoemaker
295. “Kanine Krunchies,” 101 Dalmatians (1961)
I’m sorry. I don’t believe any dog would be into this. Hey, also, do you have any enemies? Here’s a 10-hour loop of this song. — A. Shoemaker
294. “What Made the Red Man Red,” Peter Pan (1953)
So, to be clear, this song isn’t second-to-last on our list, beating only the worst fake commercial jingle in history, merely because it’s super-duper racist. It’s also trite, repetitive, boring, utterly predictable, and not even any fun. The animation is among the least interesting sequences in Peter Pan, the jokes fall flat — John smokes and then turns green! Hilarious! — and it’s difficult to even catch what’s being said most of the time. Flop on all counts. But yeah, this song is racist as hell. There’s also a side of misogyny, just for kicks. “Squaw gettum firewood!” For fuck’s sake. — A. Shoemaker
293. “The Siamese Cat Song,” Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Aunt Sarah’s twin cats are jerks. The Lady and the Tramp’s poorest-aged sequence sees poor Lady being framed for household destruction, as the two cats croon their way through chaos. Peggy Lee, as both cats, does her best, but between the instrumentation and the deeply, deeply unfortunate Asian accent the cats adopt, “The Siamese Cat Song” is just one of those Disney songs that doesn’t play as well with time no longer on its side. — Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
292. “Where the Dream Takes You,” Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Mya’s “Where the Dream Takes You” is the one major single from Atlantis: The Lost Empire, one of those Disney movies that makes audiences the world over say, “Oh, shit, that, was a movie that came out once.” It’s an addendum every bit as forgettable (if competently made) as the film in which it appears. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
291. “Bug Hunt,” Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Yes, former From First to Last frontman Sonny Moore also has a Disney credit. Skrillex isn’t bad at what he does, the wide-ranging contempt for the musical trend he helped usher in notwithstanding, but “Bug Hunt” is hardly one of his more interesting or complex works. It’s loud, addled with ADHD, and works best in context of the film as background noise to a more engaging sequence. But for the parents who probably had to hear this thing for weeks a few years ago, the assessments might not be as charitable. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
290. “My Funny Friend and Me,” The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Sting’s fared better with Disney in the past, when the white man supergroup of he, Rod Stewart, and Bryan Adams put on one of the most melodramatic videos a Disney tie-in has ever had. Here, however, he offers up a gently ambient slow jam that doesn’t even fit the tone of the film in which it appears and was somehow up for Best Original Song at the Oscars despite this. Funny how a lot of the worst songs on the list exist as the result of Disney attempting to reach out to the masses instead of doing what they do best. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
289. “Say It with a Slap,” Fun & Fancy Free (1947)
Do bears actually slap each other as a part of their mating rituals? Seriously, do they? The internet has failed to turn up answers. Regardless, this song sucks. Sorry, “Bongo,” but if I want to listen to a troubling song about slapping as a part of a mating ritual that may or may not result in sexual coercion, I’ll just dial up “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).” — A. Shoemaker
288. “Little Wonders,” Meet the Robinsons (2007)
As singles from soundtracks go, “Little Wonders” isn’t one of the more distinctive among them. Delivered by storied Santana collaborator Rob Thomas over a simplistic post-alternative track, it’s full of the kind of Disney-ready platitudes that you’d expect out of a pop tie-in, but not necessarily from Danny Elfman, who penned the song. We all gotta get paid sometimes, one supposes. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
287. “A Huntin’ Man,” The Fox and the Hound (1981)
In 19 seconds, “A Huntin’ Man” manages to work in a shitty stereotype and two sentences that make absolutely no sense. — A. Shoemaker
286. “Johnny Appleseed,” Melody Time (1948)
Here’s Disney at its most on-the-nose evangelical. Taken from the Melody Time short, “Johnny Appleseed” is all about thanking the Lord for His many blessings in the most Little House on the Prairie manner imaginable. As Johnny croons “The Lord is good to me/ and so I thank the Lord” to a chirping bird, we won’t judge you if your eyes roll right out of your head. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
285. “When Can I See You Again?,” Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
More from Wreck-It Ralph, with this song … Wait. Cloying frayed-synth big-room EDM sounds? Twinkly glockenspiel that screams “pandering and childlike”? Lyrics so generic that they appear to have been assembled by a word processor gone awry with self-actualization mantras? A general sense of annoying homogeneity? Yep, it’s Owl City. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
284. “Welcome,” Brother Bear (2003)
“Welcome to our family time/ Welcome to our happy-to-be time/ This is a festival/ You know and best of all/ We’re here to share it all.” Phil Collins has many defenders (several Consequence of Sound writers among them), but this schlock is pretty much indefensible. Also, remember Brother Bear? No? Yeah, neither do we. — A. Shoemaker
283. “Anytime You Need a Friend,” Home on the Range (2004)
To be clear, there are actually two versions of “Anytime You Need a Friend”, and Alan Menken’s original composition would probably land a little higher. But this ranking concerns songs as they existed in theatrical release, and the Beu Sisters’ arena-country version (with record scratches, for some reason) that plays during Home on the Range’s end credits is a bit of disposable hokum. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
282. “The Future of Friendship/New Friends Song,” Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021)
Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley performs the vocals for this pop number, which is ostensibly about making new friends, but is really about your parents buying you a fancy new B-bot (the new robot toy at the center of this film). It’s not quite a jingle, and not enough of an earworm to stand out as a great pop song — like the movie in which it’s featured, it’s easy to forget it ever happened. — Liz Shannon Miller
281. “Skumps (Drinking Song),” Sleeping Beauty (1959)
“Skumps (Drinking Song)” isn’t one of Sleeping Beauty’s better musical performances. Essentially, it’s a quick drinking ballad and not even a memorable one considering that half of it is just a pair of kings talking about how it’s good to be kings and raising glasses to an eventual union of families. The other half is the word “Skumps.” There’s just not a lot to it. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
280. “A Most Befuddling Thing,” The Sword in the Stone (1963)
So Merlin’s views on romance are pretty messed up. Yes, the girl in question is a squirrel, and so is basically just acting as nature demands, but they made her look pretty human (as most Disney animals do), so it’s OK to be a little discombobulated by lyrics like “You’re wasting time resisting/ You’ll find the more you do/ The more she’ll keep insisting/ Her him has got to be you.” Oh, sorry, did I say discombobulated? Should have said discomBOOBulated. That’s what I meant. — A. Shoemaker
279. “Lack of Education,” The Fox and the Hound (1981)
The message of this jazzy, little Pearl Bailey number is basically as follows: “Hey, kid, someday you’re gonna get shot and taxidermied, and it’ll be your own fault, because you were stupid enough to be friends with a dog.” — A. Shoemaker
278. “The Clown Song,” Dumbo (1941)
“The Clown Song” ranks low for three chief reasons: 1) It’s barely a minute long; 2) It’s just a forgettable accordion jam, in which clowns briefly sing about demanding a raise; 3) Clowns are horrifying. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
277. “Tomorrow Is Another Day,” The Rescuers (1977)
You’ll find some serious nostalgia for The Rescuers in some circles, but this music-minded list won’t be one of them, as the film’s music definitely isn’t one of its stronger points. “Tomorrow Is Another Day” is of a kind of wispy balladry that the lesser Disney songbooks tend to fall into at times, to the point where it winds up in Anne Murray territory. No disrespect to the Canadian songstress; it’s just the least interesting kind of Disney ballad. — D. Suzanne-Mayer
276. “Casey at the Bat,” Make Mine Music (1946)
Come on now. You get to set “Casey at the Bat” to music, and this is what you do? Worse yet, the only stuff added to the poem is all about how women don’t know a damn thing about baseball, but they all show up to the games because Casey is so handsome. So, like, it’s their fault that there is no joy in Mudville? Nope. Shut it down. — A. Shoemaker