My Favorite Disney Songs: #40-36
All right. The top 40. I’m excited. I feel like Top 40 is really where it’s at for music anyway (since, you know — that radio show and all that). So even though the list is the top 100, and seems to be split between 50 and 50, I feel like the top 40 is really the important list. (45-41 are here.)
And we begin our top 40 with — well — actually, you know what? For once, I’m just going to let the songs speak for themselves. We’re going to reset and do a cold opening, get everyone in the mood, and then just get right into the music.
40. “The Siamese Cat Song,” from Lady and the Tramp
Creepy, check. Racist, check. Classic, check. There you go. Classic Disney.
Also, if you don’t immediately know why this is racist within the first 16 seconds of this video, you’re probably not smarter than a fifth grader.
Oh, but what a great song, right? And Peggy Lee sang this! How awesome is that?
Lady and the Tramp is actually pretty light on the tunes. And rightfully so. It doesn’t need it. There are really only three songs from this that people remember. And “He’s a Tramp” — it’s okay. “Bella Notte” is great mainly because of the scene that accompanies it. Were you to hear that song on its own, you’d be like, “Am I at an Italian 60th birthday party?” This is really the song that’s the great song of the film.
And it’s weird that this song really has nothing to do with the plot. The song doesn’t need to be there at all. And yet, it totally enhances the scene and makes you scared shitless of those cats.
And, again, it’s racist as all hell. This song teaches you that Chinese people are creepy and untrustworthy.
Or as my friend would say, “Fighting the good fight.”
This belongs here. I can’t put it higher because it’s so short, but — come on. Tell me everyone doesn’t know this song.
39. “Strange Things,” from Toy Story
Oh, Randy. This was a song I loved a lot when I was a kid. And the reason for that is because I had this old Toy Story CD-Rom game for my old Windows ’95 computer, and my favorite part of that game was the “Strange Things” montage, where you clicked all the stuff in Andy’s room and it faded from Woody to Buzz. And I’d love clicking the bed sheet and watching it turn from those orange and brown and yellow western tones to the smooth blue of space. It was awesome. (You can see a shot of it at 45 seconds in the video.)
But this song is amazing. I love that it’s classic Randy. Everything outside the chorus is literally the plot of the song. Look at it:
I was on top of the world, living high
It was right in my pocket
I was living the life
Things were just the way they should be
When from out of the sky like a bomb comes some little punk in a rocket
Now all of a sudden some strange things are happening to me
I had friends,
I had lots of friends
Now all my friends are gone
And I’m doing the best I can to carry on
Randy Newman’s songs are like when rappers do that thing at the beginning of songs where they do the personalized intro. Like, “Konvict music! 2007! Akon and Young Weezy.” and you’re like, “The principles of detection tell me this is an Akon song, and it was released in 2007, and that Lil Wayne is featured on the track.” Randy is literally telling you what happens in the movie! It’s so amazing!
But yeah, this is kind of a personal choice, but I don’t care. It’s Randy. If you grew up with this movie and don’t put this in the top 50, I question you’re status as a human being with feelings.
(Also, outside of the “plot” lyrics of the song — this could totally be about puberty. If you set a puberty montage to just the chorus of the song, it would be hilarious.)
38. “Happy Working Song,” from Enchanted
All right, so maybe I should have put “Whistle While You Work” here. But come on — this is so much more fun than that is. Are we gonna get empirical, or are we gonna get fun? You know you love this song more.
Plus it’s such a fun twist on that scene — with the rats and the pigeons. How can you not laugh when the pigeon eats the roach at the end?
But the song is so simple and brilliant. Sure, the lyrics are a bit specific, but it’s 2007. I get that. It’s still well-written and the melody is terrific. And I love that bridge. This is Alan Menken on his A-game. This movie is the best stuff Disney has done, song-wise, since 2000. Nothing else comes close to this.
And this song is clearly the second best song in this movie. We’ll get to the best song soon. You know what it is. They know what it is. But this one — damn fine second place finisher.
37. “Something There,” from Beauty and the Beast
Oh, this movie. Oh, this scene.
This is the one song in Beauty and the Beast (I don’t know why, either) that paints the most vivid picture of its scene to me. “Be Our Guest” just vaguely makes me think of Busby Berkeley musical numbers and a bunch of other stuff that’s not related to the actual scene in the film. “Belle” I think of the lyrics more than I think of images. “Gaston” is close — I think of the tavern. But here — I’m thinking of that entire snowball fight and all the frolicking in the snow. So that’s why this is as high as it is. I love this song and this scene.
Isn’t it a great song? It’s short and compact, so I can’t put it higher, but man, it’s amazing. And again, Alan Menken with that bridge. That man writes a great fucking bridge. That’s what makes these songs. (And it sounds like a bit of a callback to “Belle.” Right, music people?)
Just all around, this is an amazing song. And this is really a song that a lot of people would forget from this movie. Well, not so much forget as much as they’d let it fall by the wayside compared to at least three or four other songs from this film. So I think it’s nice that we’re giving it a moment in the sun (or…snow). Because it’s really amazing.
36. “Pink Elephants on Parade,” from Dumbo
Quick, name the trippiest thing Disney’s ever done.
The answer is this. The answer is always this.
Oh my god, is this an amazing scene. Not only is the song great, but man, that animation is top notch. It makes Dumbo. The rest of that movie is whatever. The story’s not that great. But this sequence — it blows the rest of the picture away, in my eyes. This is some of their most inspired animation.
How much do you think drugs were involved?
This is a song that you kind of have to take alongside its corresponding scene. You can’t not factor in the scene when you talk about this. Some of the songs you can base purely on the songs themselves. This isn’t one of those. On its own, the song is just okay. Maybe it cracks top 50. But with that animation — oh yeah, this goes here.
Also, no joke — the reason this isn’t higher is because the 35 songs above it are amazing. Trust me when I say, after this, it’s all 5 star, great and classic songs. (Well — okay, maybe one song I know is in the next section isn’t as good as this, but I’m using my childhood as a tiebreaker, so whatever.)
This also is one of the few moments in films that people are scared shitless of as children even though the rest of the film is nothing like that. Kind of like Willy Wonka’s boat ride.
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On the next section of the list —
We have Randy Newman once again, and what I consider to be the quintessential example of his style of songwriting, the quintessential “work” song, a song that’s absolutely classic that none of us actually know what the fuck the lyrics mean, the most iconic date scene in movie history, and a special surprise that I won’t tip off beforehand because it’ll make everyone around my age flip out and get so excited because they love that song.