Memorable songs have been synonymous with the Disney brand for decades, captivating audiences and earning immense respect from critics, and especially Oscar voters. Approaching its centennial, the House of Mickey has collected 40 names for the original song and walked away with the statuette 16 times, the most for any movie studio in history. These winning moments brought music icons like Elton John and Phil Collins to the stage, in addition to historic representation from duos like Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (twice).
In honor of the Walt Disney Co.’s 100th anniversary later this year, Variety ranks the top 10 Disney tracks (including subsidiaries) to win the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Disney has shown an innate ability to tell powerful stories through music. The studio’s first Oscar nomination and win for Original Song came with the beautiful “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the animated classic “Pinocchio” (1940).
Talented artists have lent their abilities to these songs, which are known for their catchy melodies, memorable lyrics, and empowering messages. However, in hindsight, some of the winners, many consider the film’s “bad song” to triumph. See “Mary Poppins” (1964), where “Chim Chim Cher-ee” imposes itself without the two superior titles “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” not even being recognized.
Read the Top 10 Original Songs from the Oscars below and watch the music video embedded in the featured image.
Honorable Mention: “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from “Mary Poppins” (1964); “You Must Love Me” from “Evita” (1996); “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters Inc.” (2001)
Ahead of The Walt Disney Co.’s 100th anniversary on October 16, Variety takes a look back at its rich creative legacy. For 10 weeks beginning July 5, Variety will release a new “best of” list honoring the powerhouse’s many accomplishments. With a long-standing legacy of bringing joy to people around the world, Disney’s cultural impact may be impossible to measure, but we’ll surely try with every new entry.
“Pocahontas” (1995): “The Colors of the Wind”
While Pocahontas’ lively rendition leaves out key facts — such as the whole genocide of Indigenous peoples and the pedophilia-obsessed mind of John Smith — the lyrical depth of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz shines through in the issue on the theme of the environment. Sung by Judy Kuhn, it has a soaring melody and an emotional connection that connects cultures, promoting unity and harmony. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world to live in, huh?
‘The Muppets’ (2011): ‘Man or Muppet’
The standout act from the 2011 Muppet Movie exemplifies the witty nature of our famous characters we’ve loved for decades. Written by Bret McKenzie, best known for his work on “Flight of the Concords,” the song boasts a comedic writing smarts that’s absolutely on point as Walter and Gary (Jason Segel and Peter Linz) wrestle with their identity and purpose. .
‘Tarzan’ (1999): ‘You will be in my heart’
Phil Collins’ soulful tone and heartfelt lyrics created a moving song that resonated in the 1999 animated hit. The universal message of love, support and the enduring nature of family touched the hearts of audiences everywhere, becoming a hymn to parental love. Also a commercial success, the darling song represents the emotional core of the film, which left a lasting imprint on pop culture.
‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989): ‘Under the Sea’
Composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman, “Under the Sea” is one of the few tracks that are outdone by other songs in a movie (i.e. “Part of Your World”) but still stands as a big winner.
With its catchy Caribbean-inspired melody, lively instrumentation, and fantastic vocals from Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian the Crab, the energetic number exudes joy and playful candor. The song also played a pivotal role in the resurgence of Disney’s animated musicals in the late 1980s and 1990s, and endured for years in the Broadway musical and film adaptation.
‘Coco’ (2017): ‘Remember Me’
“I’m not crying. You’re crying.
Unless you were born with a hollow pewter chest, you said some version of that phrase when approaching Pixar’s deeply moving song “Coco.” Sung by various characters throughout the film and written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (their second win), its biggest impact comes when Miguel uses the piece to communicate pain and regret to his much-loved great-grandmother. -loved Coco surrounding the celebration of the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
A cultural statement for Latinos in film, it celebrates traditions and family. “Remember Me” will always sit comfortably on any list that deals with film music.
‘Frozen’ (2013): ‘Let It Go’
Parents who had children during the 2013 holiday season may have PTSD from having the song (and movie) on endless loop in their homes. Nonetheless, the fantasy phenom of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez provided an uplifting message of liberation and self-acceptance for people of all ages. Anchored by the powerful voice of Idina Menzel as Elsa, “Let It Go” soars with a beautiful chorus and emotional crescendos, cementing its place in the pantheon of iconic Disney songs in record time.
‘Pinocchio’ (1940): ‘When you wish for a star’
The Disney classic about the wooden boy with a growing nose problem begins with a timeless classic, written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington and sung by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket. Now synonymous with the Disney brand, it serves as the iconic Walt Disney Co. song and has inspired countless generations to believe in the power of their dreams and aspirations.
Embodying the spirit of Disney magic, the studio’s first original song winner has become an emblem of hope, standing tall in the history of animation and music.
‘Aladdin’ (1992): ‘A Whole New World’
Transporting viewers on a magic carpet, Alan Menken and Tim Rice’s written track beautifully captures the enchantment of Aladdin and Jasmine’s blossoming romance. A timeless tale of exploration and love, it resonated with audiences around the world, covered by countless artists (it was Ruben Studdard’s finest moment during “American Idol” season two). , and topped the music charts, offering hope and promise for a brighter future. future for dreamers. Of note: the equally energetic “Friend Like Me” which was nominated alongside it.
‘The Lion King’ (1994): ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’
In what I consider to be the greatest animated film ever made, the music for “The Lion King” stands out among the best movie soundtracks of all time. The love and friendship track, composed by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, is a melodic beauty that brings Simba and Nala together. Amid Disney’s ’90s revival, where the studio owned almost all of the original song runs, the film also got additional names for “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata,” both of which would have been amazing winners.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991): ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman, the titular song for the first Best Animated Feature nominee is a tender, unforgettable classic full of upbeat melodies that provide the utmost comfort.
Angela Lansbury sings it as matriarch Mrs. Potts, and her soft, soulful voice speaks of the enduring power of love, reminding audiences of the beauty that can be found deep within each individual.
A chart-topping hit, exquisitely covered by one of the greatest singers of all time, Celine Dion, the film and music became cornerstones of Disney’s legacy, leading to a successful adaptation to Broadway and in other stage productions. A cultural fabric for the Disney emblem.