8 of Disney’s Best Love Songs

Last week, chocolatiers and greeting card companies celebrated Valentine’s Day, that annual holiday devoted to romance and the last minute purchase of bouquets. However, lest it appear that I am the Scrooge of Romance (I’d hate to be visited by the ghosts of Valentine’s Past, Present, and Future), I’ve decided to devote this week’s column to some of Disney’s most romantic songs. 

I See the Light (Tangled)

The Grammy Award winning ballad “I See the Light” from 2010’s Tangled was composed by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater. Stars Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder respectively, performed the song during the lantern sequence in the film. Between the music and the glowing lanterns, it is easily one of Disney’s most romantic scenes. 

During the composition, the song underwent several substantial changes before settling on the final incarnation. It’s a piece that Menken remains proud of, reflecting that it “is a great moment in the film and I am very happy with the beauty and simplicity of the song.”

Evermore (Beauty and the Beast)

In the animated version of Beauty and the Beast, the character of Beast does a minimal amount of singing. That all changed in 2017’s live-action adaptation of the film, which saw the character perform one of the most moving numbers in the film.

Written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice, the song is a power ballad that replaced the song “If I Can’t Love Her” (a ballad performed by Beast in the Broadway adaptation of the story). It is a love song, but one of lament, as Beast feels that he has lost Belle forever. 

Actor Dan Stevens, in the role of Beast, brought little singing experience to the role and underwent substantial vocal training to perform the number. However, you’d never know that to be the case listening to the song, as his voice soars and perfectly captures the passion and agony of the scene. 

Ma Belle Evangeline (The Princess and the Frog)

One of Disney’s best love stories isn’t even the primary story line in the movie it inhabits. The faith, love and devotion that Ray has for the distant star he calls Evangeline (who may or may not be a firefly up in the heavens) is pure poetry.

Their love is captured in the Randy Newman composed song “Ma Belle Evangeline,” a lovely waltz tinged with the flavor of Louisiana. It’s an area that Newman knows well, moving to the the Crescent City as an infant and later visiting during the summers as he grew up. In an interview, he once stated, “New Orleans is truly different. There’s a carefree quality to it, a careless quality to it…And there’s a good reason why, you know, we are the strongest from there. It’s not like other places in the country.”

Married Life (Up)

The first ten minutes of Pixar’s Up are perfect. Full stop. The film could have ended there, and it would have been a cinematic masterpiece. It carries viewers through a lifetime’s worth of emotions, capturing joy, grief, longing, and love in a brief montage. 

Accompanying this bit of storytelling brilliance is the song “Married Life” composed by Michael Giacchino, who would ultimately win the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on the film. Just listening to a few bars of “Married Life” is enough to thrust you back into the story, making you feel ALL the feelings at once. 

I Won’t Say (I’m In Love) (Hercules)

A movie whose story is based around the mythology of Greece that takes musical inspiration from the Broadway play Grease? Brilliant. Disney’s 1997 film Hercules was the company’s 35th animated feature. 

It should come as no surprise that the music was supplied by Alan Menken. In the early days of Disney, you could always count on the music to be supplied by either George Bruns or the Sherman Brothers. These days? Alan Menken. He’s just that good.

The song “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” is performed by the character Megara and the Greek chorus of chorus girls. It hearkens back to songs like “Beauty School Drop Out” or “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” (by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey). It’s brilliant, because it contains an entire story arc in the space of a few minutes, filling you in on Megara’s past failures in love, the hard exterior she’s adopted as a result, and the way those defenses have fallen after meeting Hercules.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (The Lion King)

It almost feels a bit silly writing about this song. Is there anyone who DOESN’T know it? In a movie full of iconic music, Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” has become THE defining song from The Lion King.

In the close to 30 years since the film was released, the song has not diminished in popularity or impact. Upon it’s release, it won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and a Grammy. It spent eight weeks atop Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart, and a 2020 survey even suggested that couples who used the song as their first dance were more likely to stay together. 

Define Dancing (Wall-E)

Composed by Thomas Newman, the soundtrack to Wall-E was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score (one of 15 Academy Award nominations he has earned over the course of his career). It was also one of two he earned for Wall-E, with the other being Best Original Song for the Peter Gabriel performed number “Down to Earth.” 

It plays during a gorgeous scene that features the characters of Wall-E and Eve soaring through space together, with Wall-E powering his flight with a fire extinguisher. It’s also the scene in the film that shows us Eve giving Wall-E a “kiss,” as she passes a spark of electricity from her face to his.

Dos Oroguitas (Encanto)

The “Dos Oroguitas” segment of Encanto is another instance of Disney packing an entire drama into a single song sequence. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and performed by Sebastien Yatra, the song plays as we are given the tragic love story of Alma and Pedro Madrigal.

The song was the first that Miranda ever wrote completely in Spanish. Miranda stated in an interview that he drew inspiration for all the films songs from legendary Disney lyricist Howard Ashman. He also indicated that he hoped to write a song that “felt like it always existed.” Going further into his motivation, he recalled, “The family history that is revealed in that animated sequence is so painful that I thought it will go down better with a folk song…And I was inspired by the butterfly motif over the course of the movie. The way the candle flame turns into a butterfly. And so the song is called ‘Dos Oruguitas’ because it’s about two caterpillars who are in love and scared to let each other go. But, of course, they have to let each other go to become their next selves, and that was such a beautiful nature metaphor for what the family is going through. They love each other, but they’re hanging on too tight, and they’re not seeing each other more fully because they’re too scared of going into that next moment. And so the contrast between that lyrical content and what we’re seeing is really exciting and new.”


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