My Favorite Disney Songs: #35-31
All right — top 35. There’s really only one song left that people would haggle over where I ranked it, and it’s the first song on this list. But like I said in the previous article — I let my childhood be the tiebreaker. One spot is meaningless.
But, man, oh man — the rest of this section is off the fuckin’ chain! (Previous section can be found here.)
The one thing you’ll notice about this section is — the songs (most of them, anyway) either don’t make any sense, lyrically, or they only work as well as they do because of the accompanying scene in their film. You’ll see what I mean when we get to them. But — the songs in this section, while no one would question them being in the top 40 (outside the one I already mentioned, and even then, most people might throw it in there anyway), they do make you think, “Yeah, they really don’t mean anything. And they’re still great. Huh…”
Here are 35-31:
35. “I Will Go Sailing No More,” from Toy Story
I might catch some shit for this one, but I can back it up with reasoning. Just hear me out before you get upset that this is so high.
My first reason for this being here is because it’s the quintessential “Randy Newman” song. Not his best, of course (we all know which one that is, and I hope you’re actively guessing where that one’s gonna show up), but it’s the one that most accurately shows what his unique writing style is.
Think about it: when we think of Randy Newman, we think of him basically just writing about whatever is going on at that exact moment. They made fun of it on Family Guy, for god’s sake! And that’s what this song is; “Now I know / Exactly who I am / And what I’m here for.” They don’t get more obvious than that. And then Buzz gets ready to fly to the window; “No, it can’t be true / I can fly if I wanted to.” And then — my absolutely favorite line in all of Disney, ever, is after Buzz crashes on the stairs and the camera pulls back to show that his arm got ripped off —
“Clearly I will go sailing no more.”
“Clearly!” HA HA! How does that line not make you burst out laughing every time? That is the quintessential Randy Newman line, one that even transcends Randy Newman by getting so meta I can’t even begin to unpack that ouroboros. “Clearly” — the song knows what is happening on screen! Seriously, I don’t think Randy Newman will write or has ever written a better lyric than that. And for someone who is as essential to Disney songs as almost anyone else, I think that’s important.
The other reason this is here, and the main reason — it’s really the only Disney song that’s a tragedy.
How many other Disney songs can you think of that are actually sad songs? I mean really sad songs. This is the end of act two song for this movie — Buzz finds out he’s just a toy and isn’t a real space ranger and can’t fly, and he becomes despondent. But then he decides, “No, I’m going to prove them wrong,” as would be the case in every other Disney/Pixar movie. But what happens? It doesn’t work. He is painfully reminded that he is still just a toy. And that’s how the song ends! How many songs end like that? Plus the song has its own three act structure. It’s incredible.
So that’s why this is here. The fact that it’s a tragedy, ultimately, and because of the word “clearly.” I’m not kidding when I say the use of that word is one of my favorite uses of a word in all of music.
34. “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” from Cinderella
I say this with the utmost respect — what the fuck does that even mean?
It’s a testament to the songwriting that this song is fucking gibberish and is still a great song. (There’s still another gibberish song that’s gonna be ranked a lot higher than this. You can guess which one that is.)
While I thought to dock this song a bit for the fact that there’s not much here in terms of lyrics, again I have to take the scene as part of it, since the scene of the fairy godmother turning the mice into horses and the pumpkin into a carriage also goes down as one of the most famous scenes in movie history. You have to incorporate that into the ranking.
Plus the song is so catchy.
33. “Bella Notte (This Is the Night),” from Lady and the Tramp
This is the most famous date scene in movie history. Bar none.
Granted, the visual counts for like, 70% of this scene, but the song itself has to be counted as a part of that. On its own, the song doesn’t come nearly as high, but you have to take the song and the scene as one entity with this. You just have to.
If one were to rank the most famous images in all of cinema, the image of the two eating the same piece of spaghetti would be on that list. It’s unquestionable. For that alone, this song belongs here. I really don’t think I need to explain this one further.
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32. “Heigh-Ho,” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
It’s “Heigh-Ho.” Come on, now. Of course it goes this high. It goes at least this high.
This is one of those songs that has to be put this high even if you don’t love it. It’s Disney’s quintessential work song. You’d think it’s “Whistle While You Work,” but this one really has much more of a life. This is the one.
Plus they actually whistle during the song.
I don’t really have much else to say about this one. It speaks for itself. At lowest, this is a mid-30s song. (And a late 1930s song! Huh? Huh? … All right!)
31. “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” from Mulan
Everyone my age just went, “Fucking right, Mulan!”
Almost everything about this song is perfect. The lyrics, the catchiness — the only thing that made me not want to put it so high was the fact that it’s not too universal. It’s very specific to the plot of the film and what’s going on in the scene.
But even so — it’s so goddamn singable. You have to show it respect based on that alone. And again, we all grew up with this. I have to do it. I probably should have put “Heigh-Ho” higher, but this is such a fun choice. I’m leaving it.
You know you love this. Don’t hate.
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One more before we get to the top 25. Are you excited?
Because I’m excited.
I’m not even going to set up this next section. All I’m gonna say is — yes.