Top 10 Best Disney Renaissance Songs

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Top 10 Best Disney Renaissance Songs

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Saim Cheeda
This was truly a golden era for Disney animation and these Disney Renaissance songs prove it. For this list, we'll be looking at the best songs to come out of this period in Disney's history, roughly between 1989 to 1999. Our countdown includes “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid,” and more!
Transcript
This was truly a golden era. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Disney Renaissance Songs.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best songs to come out of this period in Disney’s history, roughly between 1989 to 1999. These will be based on their lyrical quality, visual appeal, and what the tunes represent.

#10: “Be Our Guest”
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)


Before the beginning of this sequence, the film has a mostly somber theme, as Belle is kept prisoner by the Beast. However, the arrival of “Be Our Guest” signals a welcoming change of pace into a more cheerful setting. When the starving Belle comes around looking for food in the abandoned castle, the servants promise her a dinner to remember. Even in their transformed state as inanimate objects, they deliver on their promise as Belle is treated to a dazzling display of dance and celebration. Not only does this present an entertaining turn for the movie, but the song also provides a much needed backstory for these characters. By the end of this number, who wouldn’t want to be a guest at this castle?

#9: “You’ll Be in My Heart”
“Tarzan” (1999)


Among the large list of motherly figures in Disney films, Kala might stand out as the best one. This Academy Award-winning song perfectly illustrates her unconditional love, as she brings baby Tarzan to his new home after saving him from Sabor. Despite having been rejected by her group for taking in a human child, Kala sings her newly adopted son a heartwarming lullaby, promising him she will always protect him. Not only does it establish Kala as the motherly figure she is, but the track also serves as a tribute to motherhood in general, as all the mother animals are seen caressing their children. The poignancy of the lyrics goes a long way in reaffirming that the bond of true parental love can never be broken.

#8: “Hellfire”
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)


Just about every Disney film has a song dedicated to establishing how evil the villain is, but this one definitely has the most impact. Rather than carry a catchy tune, “Hellfire” instead opts for a foreboding one that leaves no doubt how wicked Judge Frollo is. In this track, Frollo begins by trying to stem his thoughts over the beautiful Esmeralda by reminding himself of its sinful nature. However, he then tries to justify this attraction by convincing himself that he’s effectively “saving” Esmeralda by claiming her as his own. Rather than acknowledge that these devilish thoughts are his fault, Frollo decides that Esmeralda would have to suffer if she rejects him. The haunting presentation of this song certainly leaves a lasting impression.

#7: “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)”
“Hercules” (1997)


Unlike every other character in Ancient Greece, Meg is thoroughly unimpressed by Hercules, since she’s hired by Hades to trick him. Having once been abandoned by a previous romantic partner, she tries her best to deny her attraction toward Hercules when she does begin to have feelings for him. This becomes difficult, though, as this song’s backup vocals, which are provided by the muses in hilarious fashion, continually make Meg second guess herself. The upbeat nature of the tune does a great job making Meg sympathetic in the eyes of the viewer, without sacrificing her sassy nature. With so many hints telling her she’s head over heels, Meg ultimately sees her character develop into a person willing to give love a chance. Then again, who wouldn’t be convinced by the muses’ singing talents? (xref)

#6: “Colors of the Wind”
“Pocahontas” (1995)


On the outside, the world in Pocahontas seems to be more about dazzling visuals than anything. However, the titular protagonist not only convinces John Smith but also the viewer that she and her people are so much more. When John ignorantly claims he can teach the “savages” about civilization, Pocahontas teaches him the value of being one with nature. To do this, she takes him on an ethereal journey across the land, where John truly sees the different sides of Earth, realizing how he’s been the uninformed one all this time. Along with the soft composition of the number, the breathtaking sights bring to life what Pocahontas’ message is supposed to mean. Maybe she should’ve taken John around the riverbend too.

#5: “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”
“Mulan” (1998)


In order to prepare his incompetent troops for war, Shang begins a rigorous training camp. After posing as a male soldier named Ping to be recruited in the army, Mulan finds Shang’s methods near impossible to overcome. Although she tries her best, Mulan’s lack of skill makes Shang and her fellow recruits underestimate her abilities. However, a turning point in the song arrives when Mulan embraces her never-die-attitude. Following her victorious ascent in retrieving the arrow Shang had challenged his troops to claim, Mulan is successful in gaining the respect of her peers. Ironically, it takes a woman to teach the troops how to be a real man. Not only is this an inspirational track, it also proves the strength found in femininity and the importance of self-belief.

#4: “Circle of Life”
“The Lion King” (1994)


Considered as the greatest success of the Disney Renaissance, The Lion King starts off by establishing the theme of the movie. We watch as the animals of the Pride Lands gather together to celebrate the birth of future king Simba. With the tribal music signalling a new dawn, this song evokes a sense of marvellous wonder, as every inhabitant of the animal kingdom is seen playing their part. The happy occasion is marked by the sense of peace that the music brings forward, something the earthly elements of the track particularly highlight. However, the reprise also deserves praise, as it caps off the film in epic fashion. With Kiara’s birth, the “Circle of Life” is brought to its beautiful conclusion.

#3: “A Whole New World”
“Aladdin” (1992)


If there’s one song that perfectly illustrates the way Disney Renaissance films captivate audiences, it would have to be this one. Set across the world on a magical carpet ride, Aladdin and Jasmine realize their love for each other in this Academy Award-winning ballad. After stealing Jasmine away in the middle of the night, Aladdin promises her sights she’s never before seen. Staying true to its lyrics, both characters are left in awe as they leave behind the confines of their restricted lives and journey into the freedom they’ve longed for. Making this such a finely balanced number is how Jasmine and Aladdin have equal parts to play, with each character’s rendition elevating things to adventurous heights, before finishing off on a heartwarming note.

#2: “Part of Your World”
“The Little Mermaid” (1989)


While the plotline of the film centers around Ariel’s pursuit of Prince Eric, her desire for the world above the seas is established beforehand through this song. Relying almost exclusively on the powerful voice of the titular character, “Part of Your World” hits the feelings hard for its relatable premise. In order to let out her frustrations with being effectively trapped where she is, the mermaid seeks comfort among the many trinkets she’s collected from the human world. However, her longing for more is clear, as the ballad helps the viewer understand how Ariel wants control of her own thoughts and feelings. Combining Ariel’s raw sense of isolation along with her free-spirited nature, the tune is also considered the theme of the series.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Can You Feel the Love Tonight”
“The Lion King” (1994)

“Reflection”
“Mulan” (1998)

“Hakuna Matata”
“The Lion King” (1994)

“Friend Like Me”
“Aladdin” (1992)

“Under the Sea”
“The Little Mermaid” (1989)

#1: “Beauty and the Beast”
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)


If there was ever any doubt that there are no limits to love, this song easily dispels any such confusion. After watching the Beast in his rage-filled state for the majority of the film, the titular track arrives to complete his character development. Set in the backdrop of the castle’s ballroom, Belle and the Beast are happily shown in each other’s company, with their burgeoning love clear for everyone to see. Featuring the now-iconic dance between the characters, it illustrates how love can bring change in anyone, even a person who looks and behaves like a beast. The timeless nature of the tune is evident in its lyrics and musical composition, with the final reprise marking both the ending and beginning of the characters’ love story.
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