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Ranking: Every Disney Song From Worst to Best

on March 15, 2017, 12:15am
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220. “Once Upon a Wintertime”

Melody Time (1948)

This song is a damn Christmas Mad-Lib. It’s like one of those SEO-creating bots wrote a holiday song. Merry bells, chestnut mares, ice-skating, jingling spines (yep), blah, blah, blah. The ice-skating rabbits are cute, but even they get pretty obnoxious when the lady rabbit melts the ice off the dude rabbit with her smokin’ hot bod. –Allison Shoemaker

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219. “Very Good Advice”

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

What a disappointment this song is. “Very Good Advice” may be the only song on this list that’s totally tanked by a performance. Kathryn Beaumont’s performance as Alice is, by and large, really wonderful, but whoever told her to fake cry through most of this song should have been fired. Melody? What melody? I’ve got to do some more sniffling. — Allison Shoemaker

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218. “And He Shall Smite the Wicked”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Now for something different: a Disney song performed fully in Latin by the English National Opera Company, as Frollo makes his final stand against Quasimodo and is dragged to hell for his troubles. It’s a short one, but an effectively menacing accompaniment to a character who hides behind piety to commit all manner of sins. And the booming choral accompaniment has quite a bit to say on the topic of Frollo’s well-earned exit: “Day of wrath, that day/ Shall consume the world in ashes/ When the judge is come/ When the damned shall be cast down/ Into the searing flames.” Damn, Disney. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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217. “Blue Bayou”

Make Mine Music (1946)

“Blue Bayou” actually started as a deleted segment from Fantasia, but the self-proclaimed tone poem is far more memorable for the animation of the Make Mine Music segment in which it appears than for the song itself. To say that the Ken Darby Singers’ rendition is sleepy would be an understatement; it’s a lovely, harp-driven melody that might just lull you to sleep in no time flat. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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216. “Look Through My Eyes”

Brother Bear (2003)

Phil Collins was Disney’s go-to guy for a while there, huh? Near the end of Brother Bear comes “Look Through My Eyes”, a well-meaning, upbeat song about following one’s heart to the daylight that trots out the greatest hits of the modern soft-rock playbook. You get: attentive, uptempo, non-distracting piano; light electronic flourishes; acoustic guitar; some nondescript electric guitar for flavor; and Phil Collins. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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215. “Scales and Arpeggios”

The Aristocats (1970)

So here’s the thing. “Scales and Arpeggios” is a weird scene in the middle of The AristoCats, as it basically invites viewers to take in the piano lesson of a privileged cat, as she sings a song about that lesson. It owes more than a little bit of spiritual debt to The Sound of Music’s “Do Re Mi”, but imagine that song if it were sung by a chirpy child. If that doesn’t sound good to you, well, you might just want to move on to other parts of the film’s soundtrack. And Marie’s observation that this is sheet music theory “every cultured student knows” comes off a little smug. Take it down a notch, cat child. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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214. “Honor to Us All”

Mulan (1998)

Poor Mulan. Seriously. It all works out for her in the end, but she spends quite a bit of her film at the mercy of pretty much everyone else around her. Take “Honor to Us All” for instance, which frames her preparation rituals for courtship as a gauntlet of demands from her grandfather and pretty much her entire village at large. Her bather compares her to a “sow’s ear,” and it doesn’t get a lot better from there, with the busybody bystanders instructing her about how important it is for her to be complacent and attentive. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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213. “My Favorite Dream”

Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

“Mickey and the Beanstalk” seems like a great idea, but man, it’s kind of a bore. “My Favorite Dream” is a cookie-cutter ballad with cookie-cutter lyrics that basically only exists so that the harp can give Mickey a window in which to steal the giant’s key. It puts the giant to sleep, so I guess the giant and I have that in common. –Allison Shoemaker

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212. “Once Upon a Time in New York City”

Oliver & Company (1988)

Some of Oliver & Company has aged very, very well. Some of it sounds exactly like you’d expect a movie from the late ‘80s to sound, in the best possible way. This one just sounds dated (not because of Huey Lewis, either). And oh, god, that chorus. Doesn’t get much more maudlin than that. Luckily, the film’s real show-stopper comes in pretty hot on its heels. –Allison Shoemaker

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211. “The Bells of Notre Dame”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

“The Bells of Notre Dame” is delivered by Clopin, in telling children of the legend of Quasimodo, a name that Clopin translates outright in mid-song as “half-formed.” It’s a cruel opening, one that recounts how Frollo was perilously close to just drowning Quasimodo because of his appearance suggesting a demon’s. A lot of Disney movies don’t play around when it comes to the brutal realities of the world, but as you’ll see time and again as this list goes on, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is especially pronounced in its unflinching cruelty. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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210. “You’ll Be in My Heart”

Tarzan (1999)

Phil Collins’ most well-known song from the Tarzan soundtrack is also its most aggressively saccharine. It’s a fine vocal turn from Collins, but man, this is basically the color beige as a Disney ballad destined to be trotted out at father-daughter first dances until time immemorial. (Hearsay from writers older than this one suggests it was also a prom jam in its time, which makes just as much sense.) An additional version in the film, titled “Lullaby”, is posed as a duet with Glenn Close and is actually more effective for its brevity. But Collins’ hit? It can be done without. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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209. “We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out”

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

God, Alice has so many songs. This one’s fine, I guess? It seems like a song written while a house is about to be burned while the hero is stuck inside it could be more dynamic, but no, they’ll just smoke the blighter out, in case you missed that that’s what they’re doing. –Allison Shoemaker

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208. “Hip Hip Pooh Ray”

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

This list will prove that we’re Pooh fans. Seriously, those songs are damn good, and you can get away with quite a lot when you’re writing for children. But I’m sorry, hip hip pooh-ray is just a bridge too far. A person can only handle so much twee. –Allison Shoemaker

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207. “Casey Junior”

Dumbo (1941)

Yes, this one’s catchy enough that it ended up on some of those Disney sing-along tapes with which the world’s children were brainwashed at a young age, but for all Dumbo’s inventiveness, “Casey Junior” is a bit of a snooze. Cute filler, but filler all the same. –Allison Shoemaker

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206. “On My Way”

Brother Bear (2003)

This duet between Phil Collins and Jeremy Suarez peaks near the start, when Suarez’s Koda starts the song from right under Collins and delivers a handful of too-adorable lines before Collins takes over for a Disney “traveling on the road” song that’s fine enough but forgettable even by the standards of that subgenre of Disney songs. Much like the film in which it appears, it’s perfectly adequate without leaving any real, lasting impression. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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205. “Immortals”

Big Hero 6 (2014)

CoS is a Chicago-based publication, which means that every time Fall Out Boy comes up in conversation, we’re obligated to observe how far the band has come since its VFW hall emo days. Need yet another reminder? Look no further than “Immortals”, the generic tech-rock track FOB put together for Big Hero 6, a movie far more interesting than the pop single bestowed upon it. It also feels like a B-side to “Centuries”, one only mildly more subdued than that already kind of ridiculous song. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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204. “Sanctuary”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

The darkness of Hunchback proves to be one of its virtues, but good god, this is a bit much. The only thing that makes “Sanctuary” less dark than, say, “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana, is that Quasimodo does in fact manage to save Esmeralda from being burned alive. Laying it on a little thick, aren’t we, Menken? –Allison Shoemaker

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203. “Know Who You Are”

Moana (2016)

This reprise emerges near the end of Moana, as Auli’I Cravalho’s intrepid warrior finally comes face-to-face with Te Fiti, the spirit of the island and mother of all creation. It’s a brief piece, repurposing the melody from “An Innocent Warrior” in service of Moana’s impassioned plea with Te Fiti to rediscover her less lava-filled, more peaceful side, and Cravalho delivers it with the nuanced delicacy that she brings to all of her performances in the film. It’s very much a Disney piece, but a well-performed (if quick) one. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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202. “Listen With Your Heart I/Listen With Your Heart II”

Pocahontas (1995)

One of the shortest songs in Pocahontas, Grandmother Willow’s vaguely disturbing tree face advises Pocahontas on her journey with some simple, sage advice: “Listen with your heart, you will understand.” And even if it’s just a quick melody from which the film quickly moves on, the way in which the song’s production uses the simple sound of rushing wind for atmosphere is an interesting aural choice. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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201. “The Gospel Truth I-III”

Hercules (1997)

Since each installment of “The Gospel Truth” barely counts as a song on its own, we’ve lumped them together here. As the muses of Hercules periodically step into the film as the most literal Greek chorus possible, in order to keep the story moving and streamline some of the more complicated bits of mythos involved in the film, “The Gospel Truth(s)” maintain the speedy, lighthearted pace of much of the film at large. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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