If you are familiar with this blog, you know that I’m no stranger to controversy. Today, however, I venture into truly contested territory: ranking Disney musicals. Here, I rank them primarily based on the quality of their music as a whole, with story and animation considered only as tie-breakers.
These musicals were really hard for me to rank, because there are so many great Disney musicals, but if I’m going to make a top 10 list, then they have to be in some sort of order.
You may find I rank musicals lower or higher than you believe is warranted. You may find that your favorite Disney musical has been snubbed. You have been warned.
10. Tarzan – I put this one at the bottom since it’s not a proper musical, since the characters aren’t actually the ones doing the singing. But Phil Collins and his songs are amazing, aren’t they?
9. Hunchback of Notre Dame – This is a seriously under-rated musical, both as a musical and as a movie, perhaps because it doesn’t have a princess or because it’s pretty dark for a kids’ movie. If you want pathos, Hunchback has it in spades. Granted, the singers aren’t as good as those in some of the other Disney musicals, but what songs has Disney ever created that are more emotive than “God Bless the Outcasts” and “Out There”?
8. Pocahontas -Pocahontas herself is clearly the star of this score, though the white settlers have some interesting songs. This musical is also one of the few Disney musicals to get a memorable end credits song, “If I Never Knew You.”
7. Mulan – The songs are fresh and classic at the same time, with plenty of clever lyrics, as well. The score has a good blend of silly and serious. Plus, Donny Osmond.
6. The Little Mermaid – What teenager can’t relate to Ariel? “Part of Your World” was my anthem. Sebastian and his blues-y “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl” are also crowd pleasers.
5. Frozen – Mind you, Frozen only made it onto this list on the strength of its music. This movie was so overrated, and there are plenty of potholes in the story. But you can’t deny that the music is really good, though fairly unoriginal. The score is in a decidedly Broadway style. Idina Menzel is always amazing, so Frozen was bound to sound good. (Tangled is still a better movie!)
4. Aladdin – The score of Aladdin is playful, fun, and jazzy. It has lots of clever wordplay, and is where I learned the phrase “nom do plume.” Aladdin will also always be remembered, of course, for the beloved Robin Williams, who brought a lot of the fun to this musical.
3. Moana – These songs just keep moving. You can’t help but be caught up in them. The melodies are catchy and singable for the layperson but still complex enough to be interesting
2. Beauty and the Beast – (The original, not the shameless money grab that is the live-action remake) This is the classic Disney musical. The songs are an integral part of the plot, both setting the scenes and showcasing character development. Every subsequent Disney musical gets compared to this one, and for good reason.
1. Hercules – Hercules has everything you could want from a musical. It has a stirring ballad, a sassy but poignant song from the leading lady, a funny character song, and an energetic and jazzy chorus.
What do you think the best Disney animated musicals are? Ready…Set…Debate!
Upon reviewing my list, this article could also be appropriately titled “Alan Menken writes most of the best movie musicals.”
On a side note, here’s an interesting article about how Disney Saved Musicals for a New Generation.