Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who Decides: Best Disney Soundtrack

Yes, you did read that correctly. I am looking at the best Disney movie soundtrack. As a parent, I have had to sit down and watch a ton of Disney movies. And you know what I noticed? Each one has at least 2 really good songs. Think about it Snow White had Whistle While You Work and Some Day My Prince will Come. Pinocchio had When You Wish Upon a Star and I've Got No Strings. Dumbo had Baby Mine and When I See an Elephant Fly. And Cinderella had A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes and So This is Love. And there are a bunch of other examples of this throughout the Disney catalog.

What makes a soundtrack special is when you get that 3rd or 4th great song. So these 5 albums have at least 3 great songs or more.

5. Aladdin - What makes this great is that the first time we see Aladdin is also the first big song of the movie, One Jump Ahead. It is a great song that really has that big Broadway showtunes type feel to it. Of course you can't talk about the Aladdin soundtrack and not mention A Whole New World. This song is required singing at proms now it seems like, I have been teaching for 7 years at my current high school & I have seen this song done twice now. It is a great song. The vocal harmonies are perfect. The overlapping of lyrics really make this song a classic. For my 3rd song, I went with Prince Ali. I liked this song better than Friend Like Me. This one also has that "big time" feel to it, perhaps it is Robin Williams' performance that does it.

4. Tarzan - Let it be known now that I am a huge Phil Collins fan. Whether it be his solo work or his work with Genesis, he is awesome. So putting him in charge of a soundtrack was a stroke of genius by Disney. You'll Be in my Heart was the song that really got everyone's attention, but that was a little sappy for my taste. For me the true gems of the album are Two Worlds, Son of Man, and Strangers Like Me. Son of Man was great because it was really an upbeat fast tempo song, which really doesn't happen very often in a Disney movie.

But I do realize that the chances of Phil Collins getting a crack at a soundtrack wouldn't have happened without #3.

3. The Lion King - Let's face it this is the soundtrack that put Disney soundtracks mainstream again. Yes, Alan Menken did a wonderful job of creating some great soundtracks like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast just to name a few, but it was Elton John and Tim Rice that got the mainstream media's attention. I mean this album is full of hits; The Circle of Life, I Just Can't Wait to be King, Hakuna Matata, and of course who can forget Can You Feel the Love Tonight? All instant classics. Hakuna Matata almost shows how ridiculous a song can be. Think about it, this is a song about a made up fictional phrase, and you know what? It works. Once kids see this movie you'll almost be certain to hear one of them say Hakuna Matata. But for me, it's all about The Circle of Life. First song in the movie and it really gives off this grandiose feel to it. It doesn't matter if it's the Elton John version or the movie version, they are both great.

2. The Little Mermaid - When I started I really thought this would be number 1. Why not? I mean it brought back Disney animation in a big way. And a huge part of the success was the soundtrack. Part of Your World, Under the Sea, Poor Unfortunate Souls, and Kiss the Girl are all fantastic songs. If I was forced to pick out a favorite I would go with Part of Your World. Jodi Benson pours in so much emotion into the performance you really feel sad for this girl who just wants to experience something new.

On a side note, Ashley Tisdale did a cover of Kiss the Girl and turned it into a pop song. It's a great pop song, but definitely wouldn't have fit into the movie.

1. Enchanted - Yes, the same Enchanted I reviewed a while back. I am surprised this made it to #1. But as I was looking at the number of songs per movie I realized that Enchanted had 5 hits. True Love's Kiss, Happy Working Song, That's How You Know, So Close, and Ever Ever After. They are all great. Happy Working Song is a great sort of tribute to Snow White's Whistle While You Work. The lyrics are fantastic as well. Here is the first verse;
All right, everyone! Let's tidy things up!

Come my little friends
As we all sing a happy little working song
Merry little voices clear and strong
Come and roll your sleeves up,
So to speak, and pitch in
Cleaning crud up in the kitchen
As we sing along

Trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Pluck a hairball from the shower drain
To that gay refrain
Of a happy working song

We’ll keep singing without fail
Otherwise we’d spoil it
Hosing down the garbage pail
And scrubbing up the toilet

How we all enjoy letting loose with a little
While we’re emptying the vacu-um
It’s such fun to hum
A happy working song
A happy working song
How great is that? So Close is the great romantic song on the album and is done really well. And you get another good pop song from Carrie Underwood with Ever Ever After...once again a mainstream artist recording for Disney. For me though, I still love That's How You Know. I talked about it in my review of the movie and didn't realize all the hidden references to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and even a future reference to Tangled in the song.

So that's the list. One thing I hope you noticed looking at the covers is that Alan Menkin was involved with 3 of the 5 albums. He does great work, so if you see his name attached to a project, do yourself a favor and check it out.

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