Top 20 Disney Renaissance Songs

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Top 20 Disney Renaissance Songs

I love Disney songs so much and naturally the Renaissance from the nineties is their best period when it comes to music. All nine movies from this period feature quite a number of songs and all of them got their representatives which just goes to show how strong musically each and every one of them is. So I tried to include more underrated songs along with those established classics and thus this list is pretty diverse. Top ten was of course just not possible, but even with top twenty I struggled so much and surely this has to be the toughest list I had to come up with so far as all of these songs are amazing. So without further ado, here are my picks for catchiest, loveliest and ultimately the best Disney songs from the nineties.

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20. Prince Ali

This Aladdin song is surprisingly quite underrated and to me much better than Friend Like Me. But maybe that’s just me. The song has it all – a great scene which is essential for the plot and Aladdin’s character development, a great imagery and it is such a fun, catchy and ultimately very memorable tune in and of itself.

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19. Hellfire

Being easily the most mature entry on this list, Hellfire truly is one of the darkest songs/scenes that Disney has ever done. The singing is great as is the song itself, but the lyrics are clever and perfect as they showcase all of Frollo’s desires  in a very creepy manner accompanied by some pretty menacing and striking imagery.

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18. You’ll Be in My Heart

It may not be Tarzan’s best number, but it is still 1999’s worthy Oscar winner. This song is beautifully sung by Phil Collins and it is the heart and soul of the entire movie as it relies heavily on the relationship between Kala and Tarzan and the lyrics and the scene itself are incredibly heartwarming.

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17. Zero to Hero

If you ask me, this just might be Disney’s catchiest, if not the best song ever. It surely is irreverent and silly, but I love it for that. It is funny in lyrics and imagery, incredibly fast and frenetic, but fun instead of obnoxious for it and it features excellent singing. It is such an entertaining scene and I loved the shift in the song’s middle and that meant that we basically got two different songs here and both are great. Hercules has such an underrated soundtrack.

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16. Under the Sea

Although not my favorite song from The Little Mermaid by a long shot, I cannot deny the power of this song nonetheless. It is one of Sebastian’s finest moments and of course I love his character so much. The lyrics are great, the scene is important in terms of storytelling and for both his and Ariel’s character and naturally it is such an infectiously catchy, amusing tune.

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15. Belle Reprise

To me Belle is a bit overrated of a musical number, certainly very good, but not one of Disney’s best. But here I picked that number’s reprise as it is easily superior to it. It is too short, but it features good lines for Belle and such a magnificent, powerhouse finale that showcases Paige O’Hara’s beautiful vocals accompanied by gorgeous scenery and majestic orchestra. That moment is honestly angelic in quality.

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14. Reflection

Of Mulan’s four songs, only two are good and both ended up on this list as they are not just good, but simply great. This one I always thought to be too short, but still it does everything a Disney musical number should do – give an excellent motivation/explanation for the main character while providing us a greatly sung, wonderfully sounding song accompanied by gorgeous Asian imagery. It just might be the quintessential scene from the entire movie.

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13. Be Our Guest

This is such a wonderful, effervescent and incredibly catchy tune. Be Our Guest is definitely one of Beauty and the Beast’s top songs. The entire scene is pleasantly reminiscent to Silly Song from Snow White, it is visually arresting and so much fun, both in lyrics and in its energy. And that final part features some truly stellar vocals.

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12. Be Prepared

This is in my opinion the very best Disney villain song of all time. A defining scene for Scar, it features some striking Nazi influenced imagery and superb animation style. The singing is excellent and the lyrics are so good as they serve to propel the story forwards. Be Prepared is not only very catchy and sinister, but also showcasing Scar’s evil nature stupendously which is why it succeeds as the ultimate villain number.

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11. I Won’t Say I’m in Love

Hercules’ best song gets this high 11th spot and deservedly so. Megara is one of my favorite Disney characters and this scene and number showcase why I love her so much. She is such a different Disney female character than usual and I love her screwball comedy personality and mannerisms. I loved the setting of this scene, it arrives at just the right time in the movie and it features excellent, for once different lyrics for a love song and it is so damn fun and charming.

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10. Son of Man

Son of Man is Tarzan’s best song in my opinion because it is just so incredibly, even frustratingly so, catchy. The energy in its rhythm is palpable, the song serves so well as a transition from boyhood to manhood and it features such a wonderful, fun scene filled with some good gags. But because it is so hummable and unforgettable, it got into my top ten.

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9. God Help the Outcasts

God Help the Outcasts is a different kind of song for Disney. It speaks about poverty and discrimination and it is extremely important and tragic which is to be expected from this mature movie. A defining moment for Esmeralda, the scene is gorgeously animated and it is a part in the movie where everything stops and you just enjoy the beautiful vocals, a wonderful message and such heartbreaking lyrics. It is such a touching and very underrated song.

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8. A Whole New World

Unlike the above entry, this one is highly thought of and for good reasons. It is without any doubt the most unforgettable scene in Aladdin, the most romantic and the most visually dazzling. The words are romantic, the imagery is gorgeous and I loved its vocals and that it is a duet as those are rare. A Whole New World is a bit too short, but such a great, timeless musical number and one of Disney’s finest love songs of all time.

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7. Can You Feel the Love Tonight

I love Elton John’s version of Can You Feel the Love Tonight so much, but the movie version is pretty great as well. I loved that it is again a duet, the song is so catchy and moving and it is such a perfect romantic song for this movie and it’s accompanied by such stunning imagery. It is overall a great scene for Nala and Simba, but the opening of the song with Timon and Pumbaa is wonderful and certainly one of their best moments in the film.

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6. Beauty and the Beast

This is another highly regarded song and although not my top pick, I cannot deny the power of this ballad and its truly timeless quality. This scene is one of the best that Disney has ever created and Angela Lansbury is amazing here and it’s all the more admirable that she did the entire song in one take and on first try. It is a heartwarming number that is structurally perfect and filled with superbly written and unforgettable lines that describe the entire film so well.

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5. Circle of Life

Circle of Life features again superbly written lyrics that are meaningful and fit the action on screen so well. The singing is great and the chorus is of course beyond catchy and instantly recognizable to this day. It’s such a classic number accompanied by Disney’s finest opening (and quite possibly overall best scene) of all time. It is the finest part of The Lion King and the movie just never recaptured that raw power afterwards.

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4. Kiss the Girl

Such a gorgeous song, Kiss the Girl is one of my all-time favorites in one of my favorite Disney flicks. This scene is essential as the most romantic one in the film and truly watching Eric and Ariel on the boat together is so emotionally rewarding. But it is Sebastian who entirely steals the show here as he tries to help Ariel out by making the perfect atmosphere for the two to kiss. The imagery is stunning and the chorus is so damn catchy.

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3. I’ll Make a Man Out of You

This is my personal choice for the number three spot which may seem too much for some, but this number totally deserves it. Mulan doesn’t have a great soundtrack, but this is the song that propels the entire score to much greater heights. The entire scene is great as it is important in terms of storytelling and the lyrics are excellent, but it is the upbeat tempo that makes this song stand on its own and apart from regular Disney fare. It is an extremely catchy tune that never ceases to make me sing along to it.

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2. Colors of the Wind

I just love Colors of the Wind and hold the utmost respect for it which is why it gets the second spot on my list. The song is beautifully sung and highly enjoyable on its own, but the scene is majestic in its imagery and visually arresting. But the reason why it is the second best Disney Renaissance song lies in its lyrics. It teaches us about racism and prejudice but also about nature and the importance of it through simply beautiful and very descriptive lyrics. It is the kind of song that is never didactic as it’s rather subtle and ultimately so important and timeless in its message.

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1. Part of Your World

 This is it, my number one. And it comes from my favorite Renaissance movie which is of course the wonderful The Little Mermaid. Part of Your World is the best part of the entire film which says a lot honestly. It is Ariel’s tour de force moment with an amazing singing performance from Jodi Benson. This is what every Disney song should try to be – it not only gives us awesome lyrics and singing, but an overall great sequence and it’s essential for not only plot but more importantly character development for its protagonist. It is the ultimate ‘I Wish’ song and the ultimate Disney Princess song where we see just how much Ariel wants to be a part of humans’ and Eric’s world. It is extremely emotional and such a beautiful Broadway number filled with beautifully descriptive and heartwarming lyrics. It is not only the best Disney Renaissance song, but it just might be their best of all time.

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Honorable Mentions:

The Bells of Notre Dame – This song is too long, but its final moments are jaw-dropping in their majesty. It’s a proof of how great Disney once was at matching the music to the setting and time period of the film stylistically. So well done.

Two Worlds – Two Worlds is a beautiful opening for very underrated Tarzan. It features good, explanatory lyrics for the plot itself and it was a great way to open the movie on a high note.

Something There – Such a playful and charming scene gets accompanied by Something There –  a very romantic and sweet, though too short number.

One Jump Ahead – This is such an irresistibly fun tune that perfectly gets us acquainted with Aladdin as a character accompanied by fun action on screen.

I Just Can’t Wait to Be King – Infectiously catchy and so damn entertaining, this Lion King song isn’t one of its best, but it is pretty underrated in its own right.

The Virginia Company – The definition of an underrated song is The Virginia Company – a very fittingly old-fashioned song for the opening of Pocahontas. It is also very catchy and fun.

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