You can likely think of some big Disney movie moments when reflecting on your favorite films. Cinderella stepping into the glass slipper, Aurora pricking her finger on the spinning wheel, Mary Poppins floating over the London skyline, and Mowgli following the village girl away from the jungle in The Jungle Book are all big Disney movie moments that come to mind. A common thread in all these moments is the music that brings even more emotion to the scene.
Music plays a major role in conveying emotion and bringing life to characters. Music brings us together, like Scat Cat and his gang in The Aristocats, and helps us reflect on the joys and trials of life, like in Disney Pixar’s movie Soul. Music helps tell a story, so great music is worth exploring. We are back with Billboard’s top 15 greatest Disney songs of all time!
15. “How Far I’ll Go“
That’s right, “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana is so popular that it makes the Billboard top 30 greatest Disney hits list multiple times. Coming in at number 15 in the top countdown and having ranked number 41 on the charts in 2017 is Auli’i Cravalho’s version of “How Far I’ll Go”. This song climbed the charts in 2017 and became a favorite of Disney lovers everywhere. I can almost see Moana packing up her boat when I hear this song!
14. “What Else Can I Do?”
We love a good sister song, and “What Else Can I Do?” from Disney’s Encanto delivers! This upbeat duet features Mirabel and Isabela crooning about all the possibilities that await and how imperfection or little surprises (like the cactus Isabela grows) is fun!
13. “Let It Go”
This anthem will likely come as no surprise, but this song may not be in the version you are thinking of. The number 13 spot on the Billboard chart Disney greatest hits countdown is Demi Lovato’s version of “Let It Go”. This song was number 38 on the Billboard chart in 2014.
Honestly, I am crazy about both versions of this song and will engage in a spirited sing-along session during either version. The Walt Disney Company released a slam dunk music and animation combo in Frozen.
12. “The Family Madrigal”
Lin Manuel Miranda knocked it out of the park when writing music for Encanto. “The Family Madrigal” is an upbeat and fun introduction to Mirabel Madrigal’s family, their special powers, magical home, and the origin of the family miracle.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Many Disney fanatics will lament the excellent musical score that was “wasted” on The 1996 Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While I wouldn’t necessarily call this movie a flop, the music was just so much better than the film itself.
While I feel the music in this movie was excellent, I would not name “Someday” the best song in this film. “Someday” is a slow song that articulates a hope for better days ahead when the world is kinder and wiser, and when all people are valued.
10. “You’ll Be in My Heart”
Cue the tears. Phil Collins’ masterpiece, “You’ll Be in My Heart”, from the 1999 movie Tarzan, breaks me every time I hear it. Flashes of Tarzan’s adopted mother Kala doting on her adopted son is too much for me to take. The music is remembered as one of the best parts of this movie.
9. “Go the Distance”
Another good Walt Disney Animation Studios production with a fantastic musical score, Hercules is met with mixed feelings from hardcore Disney movie fans. Regardless, the signature song “Go the Distance” has been a popular graduation song and power anthem since its release in 1997. Michael Bolton really belts this one out, and we could not love this song more.
8. “Circle of Life”
The Lion King
Sometimes Disney animators, composers and musicians simultaneously hit it out of the park. Sure, we are crazy about The Lion King movie in general but, “The Circle of Life” scene is a cinematic masterpiece. Sir Elton John truly outdid himself composing and performing music in The Lion King, and his talent has made this an iconic Disney movie and one of the most successful Disney Shows on Broadway. The swell of the music as cub Simba is lifted into the air at the start of this film is goosebump-inducing. We cannot get enough of this Disney song.
7. “Surface Pressure”
Dancing donkeys and a catchy rhythm in Disney’s Encanto, what more can you want from a Disney song? “Surface Pressure” shares super strong sister Luisa’s fear of bucking under the pressure. Another song made popular due largely to its relatability, it’s no wonder that this song is in the top 10 Disney Billboard hits of all time. It’s also, in my opinion, the most dance-inducing song on the Encanto soundtrack.
6. “Beauty and the Beast”
Beauty and the Beast
The Disney Renaissance was truly a special time in the Walt Disney Company’s history. The films made in the late 1980s and into the early 2000s shaped a generation of Disney fans and the culture of the company in so many ways. Consequently, these show stopping films also gave us plenty of unforgettable music.
“Beauty and the Beast” was a beautiful song performed by Angela Lansbury in the film. However,”Beauty and the Beast” was rereleased by some famous vocalists. This version of the song was number 9 on the charts in 1992. Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson’s version of this now classic Disney song, makes me cry every time I hear it.
5. “Colors of the Wind”
Where are my 90s girls at?! For children of the 90s, Pocahontas was the Disney Princess, so you best believe “Colors of the Wind” was playing on repeat. Vanessa Williams’ rendition of this power song held the number 4 spot on the Billboard charts in 1996.
4. “Let It Go“
No, you are not seeing double — we have another repeating title on this list. Queen of Broadway, Idina Menzel voiced Elsa in Frozen and sang “Let It Go” in the movie. She holds the number 4 spot on the list of greatest Disney song hits of all time. This version of the song held the number 5 spot on the charts in 2014.
3. “A Whole New World”
Aladdin shared “A Whole New World” as number 1 Billboard chart song for one week back in 1993. In a Disney movie full of music, this is the best song by far. Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle brought viewers into Agrabah and onto the magic carpet in this compelling and beautiful love song.
2. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”
The Lion King
Sir Elton John knows how to write a killer love song, so it may not come as a surprise that “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King is the number 2 biggest Disney song hit of all time. This song held the number 4 spot for quite a while in 1994 and Disney fans were absolutely feeling the love.
Ok, ok, we’ll talk about Bruno this once — because it holds the number 1 spot on the Billboard Disney song list! Following the success of the 2021 movie, Encanto, this song moved to the number 1 spot on the chart in 2022.
This Billboard hit was sung by Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz & the Encanto Cast. The Encanto soundtrack was met with so much fandom. After all, the Encanto cast’s songs take up 7 spots on the top 30 list of all-time best Disney songs.
Are you surprised to learn Billboard’s top 15 greatest Disney songs of all time? With music-filed movies that date back to 1937, the Walt Disney Company has absolutely made a huge contribution to music history in the United States. This list just scratches the surface of the awesome music in Disney movies.