Disney has perfected the art of catchy movie tunes. It’s been that way since 1938 and no one has argued since. Some songs are about love, treasured characters, and wishing on stars, but then there are those numbers that just say it all, even going as far as to include their title right in the lyrics.
Anyone familiar with the best movie musicals knows that a good production needs to hook the audience right at the get-go, and the studio definitely delivers on that promise. Title songs might not be as commonplace as they were in Walt’s day, but Disney still knows how to serve up a cinematic symphony.
9 The Sword In The Stone (1967)
One of the most underrated Disney songs unsurprisingly comes from one of their most underrated films. The opening exposition from this adaptation of King Arthur isn’t just told to the audience, it’s sung. The backstory becomes a beautiful medieval ballad worthy of any minstrel or troubadour of the age.
“A legend is sung of when England was young, and knights were brave and bold …” is an excellent way to introduce viewers to the world of the film. Regardless of how familiar they might be with the Arthurian legends, this is a great way to start an introductory course.
8 Three Caballeros (1944)
The package films of the ’40s were an interesting time for the studio, but they did give fans some unforgettable characters, including introducing Donald Duck to his pals, José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles. They also came equipped with this catchy title song.
They sing and they samba, they shout “ay caramba!” and they create an infectious earworm that no doubt sticks with every audience member. It certainly made more than a couple of comebacks with Disney’s animated spinoffs, like the Ducktales remake where they guest-starred, and even in a Three Caballeros solo series.
7 Alice In Wonderland (1951)
By its very nature, Alice In Wonderland has always had an intoxicating, dreamy quality to it, whether it’s the original Lewis Carroll book or animated Disney cartoon movie. Naturally, the opening number that plays over the illustrated credits perfectly complements the colorful artwork on display and the psychedelic animated adventure that follows.
Wonderland might be a fall down the rabbit hole, but this song makes it feel like it lies both far away and close by at the same time. “How do you get to Wonderland? Over the hill or under land, or just behind the trees?” With these lyrics, it’s anyone’s guess.
6 The Ballad Of Davy Crocket (1955)
The title of both this song and the movie it represents essentially says it all, and that’s no exaggeration. A legendary character like Davy Crockett deserves nothing less than a full-on frontier folksong, and that’s precisely what he got when Fess Parker first dons that coonskin cap.
The “King of the Wild Frontier’s” theme song wasn’t just used in the Disneyland series, but in the film adaptation and both its sequels, as well. To this day, the famous ballad of the iconic pioneer can still be heard on a multitude of Disney albums and even though the theme parks as guests explore Frontierland.
5 Melody Time (1948)
While not too many casual Disney fans are too familiar with this package film, it has some underrated but memorable musical numbers. From “Once Upon a Wintertime” to “The Bumbleboogie,” there’s a little bit of everything in this collection of melodious shorts and sequences.
The titular opening number might feature some weird imagery with the singing masks, but it doesn’t fail to remind the viewers that they’re in for a night of “rhythm and romance, reason and rhyme, something ridiculous, something sublime.” Simply put, “It’s Melody Time.”
4 The Aristocats (1970)
If ever there was an example of stereotypical French music, the theme song from Disney’s The Aristocats is a prime example. It’s catchy, it’s upbeat, it’s sung by the very French Maurice Chevalier accompanied by an accordion, while artsy sketchbook imagery plays over the credits. “Naturellment! The Aristocats!”
Disney really went all the way in setting the right tone and atmosphere for this feline adventure in the City of Lights. Chevalier’s voice paired with the vivid imagery of the lyrics truly does work in its favor. It’s a somewhat forgotten gem, but one that viewers will be humming nevertheless.
3 Winnie The Pooh (1977)
Repetition is always an excellent way to drill a song into a listener’s head, but it’s not like a song about Winnie the Pooh needs much help, especially when it was part of the first film that helped make the willy-nilly silly old bear a household name.
“Chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” is just one of the lyrics that capture Pooh’s character perfectly. Pair this with the jaunty little tune as he literally walks over the words of the page and it’s practically the ideal way for Pooh to enter the film.
2 Oo-De-Lally (Robin Hood And Little John) (1973)
This song comes in with an honorable mention since the title is technically at the beginning of the verses and not the song’s official title. Even so, the theme song for everyone’s favorite foxy thief of Sherwood Forest is as memorable and charming as Robin Hood himself.
There’s not a Disney fan out there who isn’t familiar with the phrase, “Oo-De-Lally, Oo-De Lally, golly what a day!” Thanks to this opening number, the mood is set, and the folk-inspired themes saturate the soundtrack from the very beginning. With tunes like these, it’s no wonder that this version is perhaps the most beloved Robin Hood adaptation.
1 Beauty And The Beast (1991)
Beauty and the Beast is considered the perfect Disney love story and with very good reason, so it’s no surprise that its titular song should reflect and represent the plot so perfectly. The music is downright magical and the lyrics practically tell the story in a short amount of time without the slightest rush.
This “tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme” was such a hit with the crowds, that it undoubtedly was one of the biggest reasons it won Best Original Score at the Oscars. Even the remake couldn’t touch its already magnificent arrangement and magical melody. It’s Disney at their most romantic and features of their best couples.