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Apparently, Disney animated movies were complete trash for almost 30 years following the death of Walt Disney himself in 1961. By the mid-1980s, the Disney big wigs had finally hired a team of all-star animators; by 1999, these same animators had created 10 films that are now collectively known as the Disney Renaissance. Spanning from Little Mermaid (1989) to Tarzan (1999), you are not a true millennial American unless at least one of these movies had a significant impact on your childhood.
The defining factor that unites all of these nostalgic gems is their top-notch musical numbers that simultaneously assist in the storytelling while also being particularly pleasing on the ears. Before the so-called Renaissance, lyrical songs written specifically for quality animated movies simply did not exist.
As much as we all appreciate the impact that these movies had on our lives, one key requirement that separates this ranking from similar ones is whether or not this song could be considered as quality without the context of the movie itself.
5.) “A Whole New World” (Aladdin, 1992)
No doubt the most uncool of songs to make the cut of this exclusive list. It’s cute, and the singer behind Jasmine has the most impressive pipes of anyone this side of Idina Menzel. Major props to Aladdin himself for using a carpet as a means for some killer transportation on a first date.
4.) “Two Worlds” (Tarzan, 1999)
A montage depicting the deaths of an infant gorilla and a married couple who are parents to an infant human themselves. Geez, what an emotionally heavy way to begin a children’s movie, Disney.
Phil Collins’ magical talent makes this sequence work cinematic wonders, however. “Two Worlds” makes connections between the fundamental similarities between gorillas and humans. Political commentary aside, this aspect of it is pretty sweet.
3.) “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” (The Lion King, 1994)
Cannot get over how much this song bangs. Such an ominous wish, though, for young Simba, a naive cub clearly too unexposed to the real world to have ever been told “it’s lonely at the top.” If only he knew how cruel the Disney producers could make a story about an innocent lion in Africa over the course of 90 minutes.
The most notable takeaway I have from hearing this song for the first time in over a dozen years is how much the singing voice behind Simba sounds like a young Michael Jackson. Like, are we really sure Joe Jackson and his kids didn’t secretly record this song in the ’70s? We may never know.
2.) “Son of Man” (Tarzan, 1998)
I had a legitimately challenging time including less than three of Tarzan songs in this list. Apologies in advance to the readers who wanted more Phil Collins greatness — you’re not wrong in your judgement.
“Son of Man” looks at the growth of the orphaned human into a wildly talented tree-swinger and animal playmate who has become more than comfortable with his jungle surroundings. This song-and-montage also gave a five-year-old Evan unrealistic expectations of one day being able to surf on tree branches like a G.
At the end of the day, if you are able to watch and listen to this sequence without grinning like a fool, you should consider emotional counseling.
1.) “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” (Mulan, 1998)
A song-and-montage that salvages an otherwise disappointing movie, “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” brings an uncontrollable amount of heat and adrenaline vibes to the table. While his background as a young member of the family band The Osmonds doesn’t nearly stack up to Phil Collins’ obvious connection to the band Genesis, Donny Osmond’s performance in this hype tune somehow trumps that of all of the latter’s songs from Tarzan. Despite my embarrassing lack of knowledge about ancient Chinese history, this song never fails to make me want “to defeat — the Huns!”
“LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.” .
[via Lion King / YouTube]