SWDb picks: Top 5 best underrated songs from Disney’s animated musicals

Frozen, Disney’s latest animated musical endeavor, and its now widely celebrated title song, Let it go, have made movie history by recently becoming the highest animated film of all time, whereas the song and soundtrack have even made their way into the top Billboard charts.

Although the quality of Frozen’s music is a matter well suited for a debate, it’s safe to say it has already joined the rank of classic Disney melodies.

But while we’ve all hummed to The Circle of Life, or bobbed our head to the contagious rhythm of Under the Sea, some of the best musical gems from Disney’s animated films are yet to be rediscovered.

Today, we picked 5 best underrated songs from Disney’s animated musicals which, to our knowledge, deserve a little more praise and recognition:


5. He lives in you, from The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998)

Music and lyrics: Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Lebo M. Composed originally by Hans Zimmer.

It’s not often a Disney sequel makes it into a list of best films, but the follow-up to the 1994’s classic did have a few worthy tunes to offer, such as Upendi or Love will find a way. However, the most memorable song of the film is definitely He lives in you, which seems to continue the legacy of The Circle of Life.

The song was written by Hans Zimmer, the composer for the first film, but it was cut from the film and it remained as part of the Broadway show. The interesting melody and pleasant lyrics make it a must for any Disney enthusiast. Even if you abhor the Disney sequels, He lives in you will definitely be faithful to its name and stay in your head long after the film has ended.

4. Love, from Robin Hood (1973)

Music and lyrics: Floyd Huddleston and George Bruns.

Although it might be arguably considered one of the weakest Disney animated films, Robin Hood is a fan favorite and an enjoyable good-hearted flick for children and adults, with a tongue-in-cheek story and a colorful cast of characters. When it comes to the music, the most remembered songs might be the dark and moody Not in Nottingham, or the lighthearted The Phony King of England.

But who could resist Nancy Adams’ sultry voice in Love? The song, which can be heard during Marian and Robin’s escape through the forest, is one of the first simple yet charming love letters ever produced by Disney, but it has been unfortunately forgotten since then. Oddly enough, Love was nominated for both an Oscar and a Grammy, proving that audiences back then had also favored the delightful tune.


3. Out there, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Music and lyrics: Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz

Perhaps the most underrated Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame raised an array of controversy due to its darker subjects, since it strived to adapt Victor Hugo’s somber homonymous novel into a more child-friendly flick while still remaining somewhat faithful to the core of the story. But whether it succeeded or not, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame did manage to captivate audiences with an exquisite and unique soundtrack.

Amongst the many great songs from the film, Out there is perhaps one of the most beautiful. In this very well written hymn, Quasimodo expresses his desire of living an ordinary life through a triumphant and heartwarming melody, winning the spectators with its wonderful combination of soul and joy de vivre.


2. Just around the riverbend, from Pocahontas (1995)

Music and lyrics: Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz

Even though Pocahontas was one of the most alienating films for Disney enthusiasts –either disenchanting them entirely or spurring a long-lasting love-, the soundtrack for this animated musical did receive a lot of praise when it was released in 1995. The song Colors of the Wind won the Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy for Best Song, and although since then it has been somewhat forgotten, it still receives some recognition in lists or tributes to the Disney classics.

However, Just around the riverbend has been overlooked for years. The song is one of the few which celebrate a woman’s independence as well as her right to yearn for something other than romantic love –something previous and more popular female hymns such as Belle or Part of your world still praised. Fun and light, Just around the riverbend is an unfortunately underrated melody which should be noticed again.

1. Heaven’s light / Hellfire, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Music and lyrics: Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz

The Hunchback of Notre Dame makes it to our list again, this time snatching the top spot with a double feature: Heaven’s light / Hellfire. Although they can be considered independent songs, most versions of the soundtrack will place them in a single track, an appropriate decision considering both are two sides of the same coin. This risky song displays two different appreciations of love and attraction: Quasimodo’s self-deprecating yet sincere and innocent yearning for Esmeralda, and Frollo’s manic and dangerous lust for the gypsy.

Possibly one of the darkest songs ever written for a Disney film, Heaven’s light / Hellfire was a bold move by Menken and Schwartz, but it created one of the most memorable moments from the entire film. Like Out there, which is also in our list, this song was surprisingly not nominated for any award ceremony. Fortunately, it has been rediscovered by enthusiasts everywhere, gaining a following and receiving the appreciation it deserves.


Do you agree? What’s your favorite underrated song from Disney animated musicals?





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