5 Deleted Disney Songs

Back in January, we took a deep dive into the song “Snuff Out the Light” from Kingdom of the Sun, the movie that eventually became The Emperor’s New Groove. With music and lyrics by Sting and Eartha Kitt’s vocals, it’s one of the most stunning Disney songs that fans never got to hear (at least in the finished product). But it’s hardly the only example.

The history of Disney music is littered with abandoned or deleted songs. In some cases they were cut for time, or because changes in the script necessitated it, but it’s rarely a reflection of the quality of the number. 

This week, we’re taking a look at five deleted songs from five classic Disney films.     

Never Smile at a Crocodile (Peter Pan)

This may very well be the most famous of all the deleted Disney songs. The piece was written in 1939 by Frank Churchill (music) and Jack Lawrence (lyrics) for Peter Pan. Sadly, the project was shelved for a decade, and Churchill died in 1942. 

While the melody was included in the final film (which was released in 1953), the version with lyrics was cut. However, the song was included on the soundtrack released the same year. As noted in the Disney Song Encyclopedia, “The song has long been a favorite on children’s records, and other recordings have been made by Henry Calvin, Gracie Lou, Joe Reisman and His Orchestra, the Paulette Sisters, and Mitch Miller and His Singers.” 

(2) Never Smile At A Crocodile | Peter Pan – YouTube

Beware the Jabberwock (Alice in Wonderland)

Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” is one of literature’s most famous poems, and perhaps the greatest example of nonsense verse ever written. Composed by Lewis Carroll and included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it tells the story of a fearsome beast known as the Jabberwock and the boy who slays it.

Both novels inspired Disney’s 1951 film Alice in Wonderland. The film contains a lot of classic songs, such as “In a World of My Own,” “All In the Golden Afternoon,” and “Painting the Roses Red,” but one of the most interesting didn’t make the final cut. A song entitled “Beware the Jabberwock,” written by Don Raye and Gene de Paul was recorded in 1947. Supposedly, it was meant to be sung by Stan Freberg. Instead, the piece was replaced by the Cheshire Cat singing the opening lines to Carroll’s poem.

The animated sequences intended for the song were stored in the Disney Archive and later used as images in a picture book version of “Jabberwocky” published in 1992.

(2) Beware the Jabberwock – 1947 Demo – Alice in Wonderland – YouTube

Don’t Buy a Parrot from a Sailor (One Hundred and One Dalmatians)

When fans think about the music of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, they likely think of “Cruella de Vil” and not a lot else. Die-hards may also remember the Kanine Krunchies jingle, but Cruella’s song is definitely the star of the show. 

It likely always would have been (it is, after all, a masterpiece), but there was another rather amusing song intended for the movie. To be sung by the characters of Jasper and Horace, “Don’t Buy a Parrot from a Sailor” was meant to mirror the style of Cockney pub songs like “Knees Up Mother Hubbard” and “Any Old Iron.” 

The song was written by Mel Leven (the same man who penned “Cruella de Vil”). While it doesn’t appear in the movie, it’s a fun and ridiculously singable piece. One that would be perfect to sing while tipping back a frosty mug of root beer. 

(2) 101 Dalmatians – Abandoned Song: Don’t Buy a Parrot from a Sailor – YouTube

I’m In the Middle of a Muddle (Cinderella)

In Cinderella, we get to hear about all of the miserable chores that Cinderella’s stepmother and step-sisters force her to do in “Work Song (Cinderelly, Cinderelly).” It’s performed by Jaq, Gus, and the rest of the mice. However, the audience was originally meant to learn about her troubles in Cinderella’s own words when she sang “I’m In the Middle of a Muddle.” 

Like the rest of the soundtrack, it was written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman, a trio of Tin Pan Alley composers. Walt Disney brought the trio on board after hearing their song “Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba,” which was popularized by Perry Como. The three can be heard performing the track on a demo recording on Cinderella: The Legacy Collection, a double-disc album released in 2015. The album also includes a recording of actress Kate Higgins performing the number.

(2) I’m In the Middle of a Muddle – YouTube

Admiral Boom (Mary Poppins)

The story of Mary Poppins is populated with memorable characters, from Bert the Chimney Sweep to Uncle Albert. One of the most eccentric, and endearing, is Admiral Boom, portrayed by Reginald Owen (best remembered as Ebeneezer Scrooge in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol).

Boom and his partner Mr. Binnacle are neighbors of the Banks family. A pair of retired Navy men, they live in a house with a ship on its roof. Twice a day, they fire a cannon to mark the time at precisely 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The Sherman Brothers, who composed all of the songs in Mary Poppins, wrote a ditty called “Admiral Boom” for the character. However, Walt Disney ultimately decided that the song was superfluous to the plot of the film. However, one line was kept as a bit of slightly paraphrased dialogue. It is spoken by Bert, who declares, “The whole world takes its time from Greenwich, but Greenwich, they say, takes its time from Admiral Boom!” 

(2) Admiral Boom – Deleted Mary Poppins Song – YouTube

7 Disney Covers You Need to Hear

With a catalog containing some of the best popular music ever written, it’s no surprise that a multitude of artists have turned to Disney when looking for something to record. The depth and breadth of the songs rival that of the Great American Songbook, and it has given birth to some of the greatest covers ever recorded. 

There have been so many gorgeous cover versions of Disney songs, that it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. To help, we’ve gathered seven of the best. 

When You Wish Upon a Star – Dion and the Belmonts

In 1960, the vocal trio of Dion and the Belmonts released the record “Wish Upon a Star.” Disney’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio was the first track on the album. Their performance featured the smooth vocals and gorgeous harmonies that were the groups trademark, taking the classic tune and re-imagining through the lens of doo-wop.

The track would have a curious effect on the world of popular American music. A young Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was moved by the Belmonts performance and used it to inspire the composition of the song “Surfer Girl,” the opening track on the 1963 album of the same name. 

The Three Caballeros – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (featuring Vic Schoen & His Orchestra)

Originally composed by Manuel Esperón González and based on the ranchera song “¡Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!” the song “The Three Caballeros” was originally featured in Disney’s anthology film The Three Caballeros, which premiered in December of 1944. 

The following year, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters released their version of the song, which became an immediate hit, rising to #8 on the charts. Crosby and the Andrews take turns singing lines from the song, imbuing them with the same playful charm they brought to recordings like “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” and “Mele Kalikimaka.” 

I Wan’na Be Like You – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

The song “I Wan’na Be Like You” by Richard and Robert Sherman is one of the swingingest songs in the Disney canon, and one of the highlights of The Jungle Book. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the song is performed by Louis Prima.

So any band that decided to cover the sing needed to be just as swinging. That’s why Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were the perfect candidates. As one of the leading forces of the 90’s swing revival, their music has always sounded like it spilled right out of a speakeasy. 

Included as the second track on their 1999 album This Beautiful Life, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy took the song and ran it through the streets of Havana with Cuban influenced horns, piano, and percussion. 

Not in Nottingham – Los Lobos

When Los Lobos began in East Lost Angeles, they were drawn together based around on shared love of musicians like Randy Newman and Ry Cooder. Before long, they began incorporating the sounds of the Mexican music they heard as children.

Over the course of their career, they’ve experimented with sounds including zydeco, rock and roll, norteño, blues, and more. They brought all of these experiments to their 2009 album Los Lobos Goes Disney. Their rendition of Roger Miller’s “Not in Nottingham” from Disney’s Robin Hood, is one of the album’s highlights, and sounds as though it is being played beneath the stars in Barrio Antiguo.  

I’ve Got No Strings – Diana Ross & The Supremes

In 1987, Diana Ross & The Supremes released The Never-Before-Released Masters, a compilation album gathering 27 songs recorded between 1961-1969. A significant portion of the collection centered around recordings which were made for Diana Ross & The Supremes Sing Disney Classics, an album which the group recorded, but which was never released.

As you’d expect from these Motown legends, each of the songs are packed with charm and made spectacular by the brilliance of Diana Ross’s voice. However, there’s something particularly perfect about “I’ve Got No Strings.” The song was originally written for Pinocchio with music by Leigh Harline and music by Ned Washington. As reinterpreted by the Diana Ross & The Supremes, the song is given a lush backing built (somewhat ironically) around some gorgeous strings, though the sound of the stand-up base also goes a long way toward anchoring the piece. As it builds toward a climax, horns are added into the arrangement. By the time the song finishes, it’s been transformed from playful into a powerful affirmation of independence. 

Lavender Blue – The Jackson 5

We can quibble about whether or not this should count as a Disney song. As an English folk song, it’s centuries old. Earliest attestations of the song date back to the 1670s. However, it was the 1948 recording made by Burl Ives for the Disney film So Dear To My Heart that brought renewed interest in public attention to the song, so I’m fairly comfortable including it.

The performance by The Jackson 5 is something of an oddity. Despite my best efforts, I’ve yet to find when it was recorded, and it appears it was never officially released. The track starts with Michael Jackson singing with a simple bell accompaniment that retains some of the folksy approach you’d expect with the song. But before long, it brings in the disco funk you’d expect from the Jackson 5 (while maintaining the song’s familiar melody). 

Cruella de Vil – Dr. John

There’s no two ways about this. Dr. John performing the Disney classic “Cruella de Vil” may be the most perfect pairing of artist and subject ever captured on tape. The recording was made for the soundtrack of Disney’s live action remake of 101 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close. 

The legendary “Night Tripper” and king of gris gris music, Dr. John takes Mel Leven’s 1961 song and deepens its jazz chops with his incredible piano playing and a swinging horn line. As brilliant as the music is, Dr. John’s voice is the true star of the recording. His soulful rasp is playful and funky, as are his half spoken improvisations near the end of the track. It doesn’t hurt that the subject, Cruella, seems like she could have been a character pulled from a Dr. John original.  

2 Disney Soundtracks You Need to Hear Today

When we talk about Disney soundtracks, we usually think of films. It’s easy to see why. From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Encanto, the studio is responsible for some of the most memorable music ever recorded. But the brilliant music isn’t just reserved for the silver screen. Two of Disney’s best soundtracks come from television: the soundtrack for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and music from The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder

While the traditional Disney soundtrack is a bit like a Broadway cast recording, these two collections are more like a traditional album. In fact, they’re the sort of brilliant gems you’d be thrilled to find digging through the crates of your favorite record store, with tunes you’d listen to on the radio without a second thought. 

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

In February, Disney introduced the animated series Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, based on the Marvel comic series of the same name. The cartoon follows the adventures of a brilliant 13-year-old girl named Lunella Lafayette and her gigantic T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. Set in New York’s Lower East Side, the show’s roster of characters is a paragon of diversity and representation, with each story depicting a tight knit community and family at its core. 

The animation is an explosion of color and the action is packed with the sort of frenetic energy you’d expect when dealing with characters who have just exited the tween years. So, it only makes sense that the soundtrack would need to be just as dynamic. 

Disney turned to GRAMMY Award winning musician and producer Raphael Saadiq to write and produce the soundtrack. A member of the multi-platinum selling band Tony! Toni! Toné!, Saadiq has also produced music for artists like Jill Scott, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, and others. Along the way, he’s amassed industry accolades and recognition as one of the most important voices in music. 

Speaking with The Verge about his work on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Saadiq stated, “When I watched cartoons as a kid, there was a lot of serious orchestration. A lot of funk, a lot of R&B, and a lot of soul — all kinds of different styles of music. I wanted that for Moon Girl, too. Every episode was a challenge — which I knew it was going to be — because they were pushing me to do very different things week in and week out.”

The star of the series, Diamond White, performs frequently on the soundtrack, including on the show’s theme song, “Moon Girl Magic.” The album also features appearances by performers like Daveed Diggs, Jane Handcock, and Taura Stinson. While not included on the actual album, the show also features music by Childish Gambino. 

When describing the sort of musical journey that the music should provide, Saadiq stated, “It’s almost like listening to a concert, and there’s variations of a Bill Withers — the emotions of a Stevie Wonder and a little Prince. But sometimes the emotion’s more like Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, or you’ll hear drops of A Tribe Called Quest and just hardcore SP 1200 hip-hop.”

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder: Music from the Series

Creating the soundtrack for Disney’s The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder can’t have been an easy task. After all, the original soundtrack featured a theme song performed by Solange and Destiny’s Child, as well as some of the greatest music ever made. With songs like “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys, “Use ta Be My Girl” by The O’Jays, “More Love” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and “Video” by India.Arie, to name just a few, it was a powerhouse collection of soul and R&B. How on earth do you follow that? 

But to make the show they envisioned, creator Bruce W. Smith knew that music would remain integral, stating, “You can’t mention our show without mentioning music. Solange and Destiny’s Child did a fantastic job of really laying out the original theme song, so we wanted to hand over that mantle to someone else to realize the full potential of what they laid out for today.”

It starts with the theme. Kurt Farquhar, the composer for the original The Proud Family theme song, returned for The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder. This time, singer-songwriter Joyce Wrice would perform the song. 

Speaking to Rolling Stone, she once said, “Music was my first love. My sibling I never had.” Her 2021 debut album, Overgrown, was described as drawing,  “on the classic R&B of the late Nineties and early 2000s, showing the range that fans of the genre were accustomed to seeing from artists like Aaliyah, Brandy, and Mariah Carey, and combines that sound with modern songwriting and guest appearances from some of today’s rising artists.” 

Despite all of that, she did admit some nerves stepping into the shoes previously filled by artists like Solange and Beyoncé, telling Billboard, “It was really intimidating in the beginning, because I respect them so much. But I feel great. I listen to them even to this day, so it’s really an honor to be in this position. I feel very fortunate.”

In addition to the music by Wrice, the soundtrack features performances by CeeLo Green, Tone-Loc, and a surprisingly brilliant rendition of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” performed by Tommy Davidson (who plays Oscar in the series). 

Farquhar served as the composer for the series, as well as the songwriter for the original songs featured throughout. An article in Animation Magazine noted that the song writing process involved going, “back and forth from current needle drops like Lizzo to redoing songs by older artists like Shuggie Otis and The Brothers Johnson.” The end result is an album’s worth of songs that you’d love to get on vinyl and listen to any time, day or night.  

10 Fun and Fancy Free Disney Songs

Over the last few weeks we’ve looked at some of Disney’s best love songs, as well as some of the most heart breaking songs in the Disney canon. In the past, we’ve even looked at some of the company’s best villain songs. But sometimes you just want to let down your hair and have a little fun. That’s why this week we’re looking at 10 fun and fancy free Disney songs (although they aren’t songs from 1947’s Fun and Fancy Free. Sorry for any confusion). 

Hakuna Matata (The Lion King)

“Hakuna Matata” is a Swahili phrase that literally means “no trouble” or “no worries.” It perfectly captures the philosophy of the characters Timon and Pumba in 1994’s The Lion King. According to a special feature on The Lion King DVD, the phrase was learned from a tour guide in Kenya. With words by Tim Rice and Music by Elton John, it has become one of the most popular songs in Disney history. It was even nominated for Best Song at the Academy Awards (but lost to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the same film). 

Why Should I Worry? (Oliver & Company)

Featured in the criminally overlooked 1988 animated feature Oliver & Company, “Why Should I Worry” was composed by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight. It was performed by Billy Joel, who also provided the voice for the character of Dodger (Artful Dodger in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”). The animation sequence features Dodger dancing through the streets of New York City after stealing a chain of sausages from a street vendor. It would become the first Disney song nominated for a Golden Globe, though it ended up losing to two songs as both “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon, and “Two Hearts” by Phil Collins tied for the award. 

The Bare Necessities (The Jungle Book)

Written by Terry Gilkyson (co-composer of the popular “Memories are Made of This” made famous by Dean Martin), “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book is a foot-tapping celebration of life’s simple pleasures. Gilykson wrote multiple songs for the film, but Disney deemed most “too heavy and ponderous,” which is why the remainder of the film’s songs were provided by the Sherman Brothers. Gilykson’s composition would earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Song, though it lost to “Talk to the Animals” from the musical comedy Doctor Doolittle starring Rex Harrison.  

Trashin’ the Camp (Tarzan)

As the drummer for Flaming Youth, and later Genesis, Phil Collins likely never pictured himself becoming a composer for Disney. But by the mid-90s, it probably didn’t seem as far-fetched. Disney had teamed with Elton John for The Lion King, which was a massive hit. They’d also brought Sting onboard to be a part of Kingdom of the Sun (which would later become The Emperor’s New Groove). Collins had entered the “adult contemporary” portion of his career, and Disney executive Chris Montan suggested bringing him onboard for Tarzan.

“Trashin’ the Camp” appears in the movie as Terk’s signature number, and is the only song on the soundtrack which is actively performed by an on-screen character. The number would later be used at Hong Kong Disneyland’s version of The Jungle Cruise, playing on a 1930s style radio as gorillas raid the Jungle Navigation Company’s camp. 

Under the Sea (The Little Mermaid)

When you think of a Danish fairy tale, calypso music probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Then again, neither is a Caribbean crab. Fortunately, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman saw the possibility when writing a song celebrating life lived beneath the surface of the sea. The brilliant performance of Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian the crab took it from notes and words on a page to the ecstatic, joyous celebration of the life aquatic. The combination earned Disney their first Academy Award for Best Song since Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” 

The Three Caballeros (The Three Caballeros)

In 1941, Manuel Esperón and Ernesto Cortázar Sr. teamed up to write the ranchera song “¡Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!” for the film of the same name. The song became a huge hit in Mexico, and would eventually provide the melody for the Disney song “The Three Caballeros.” After learning of Esperón’s success writing songs for the Mexican film industry, Walt Disney reached out and asked him to be a part of the movie The Three Caballeros. The reinterpretation of “¡Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!” would receive new lyrics by Ray Gilbert. 

The characters of Donald Duck, Panchito Pistoles, and José “Zé” Carioca perform the song in the movie. Today, fans of the song can also hear it on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros located in the Mexico pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase.  

Gonna Take You There (The Princess and the Frog)

It’s hard to think of a happier, livelier type of music than zydeco. It’s like a party in musical form. In the hands of composer and lyricist Randy Newman, it became the perfect vehicle for the song “Gonna Take You There” from The Princess and the Frog, a song celebrating the joys of family and friends. The song is sung by Jim Cummings as the voice of Ray, with musical accompaniment from zydeco musician and educator Terrance Simien.  

In a movie that overflows with musical joy, it remains one of the standout pieces and is sure to make you jump up out of your seat to start dancing.

Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride (Lilo & Stitch)

Written by Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu and Alan Silvestri, “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” is heard during a scene that features Lilo, her sister Nani, Stitch, and David surfing. It was performed by Ho’omalu as well as the children’s chorus from the Kamehameha School. Talking about the movie later, co-writer and co-director Chris Sanders noted how Ho’omalu and the Kamehameha School helped lend authenticity to the Hawaiian experience in the film. He stated, “So Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu was our kumu hula. He told us everything we needed to know about everything. And he was one of those people that gave us more than we ever could have hoped for — culturally, language-wise, just stories, everything. We also partnered with Kamehameha Schools. And their choir is the choir that sings in the movie, for example. So that was just for us an exercise in humility and letting people who know what they’re doing help us.”

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Mary Poppins)

Arguably Walt Disney’s greatest cinematic accomplishment, Mary Poppins remains a peerless masterpiece nearly sixty years after its release. The music, penned by the Sherman Brothers, is a big reason for the film’s success, and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was definitely one of the movie’s most memorable songs. Over the years, the Shermans have given several different stories about the origins of the word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” In one recollection they wrote, “When we were little boys in the mid-1930s, we went to a summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains, where we were introduced to a very long word that had been passed down in many variations through many generations of kids. … The word as we first heard it was super-cadja-flawjalistic-espealedojus.” That may very well be true, but on other occasions they claimed to have invented the word themselves as children. Either way, the mouthful was transformed into an unforgettable song.

Ev’rybody Wants To Be a Cat (The Aristocats)

With music by Al Rinker and words by Floyd Huddleston, “Ev’rybody Wants To Be a Cat” has proven the most enduring song from The Aristocats. Given that fact, it might be a surprise to learn that a song by the Sherman Brothers, “Le Jazz Hot” was originally intended to be the “showstopper” in the film. The primary performers on “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” are Scatman Crothers, Phil Harris, and Robie Lester. Crothers in particular lends the song its jazz credibility, having begun his professional career as a musician in the speak easies of Terre Haute, Indiana. His nickname, Scatman, even came from this time, and was a reference to his scat singing, a style of improvisational vocals unique to jazz. It’s easily one of the swinginest, most happenin’ songs ever created by Disney, and guaranteed to make you smile.  

5 of Disney’s Most Heart Rending Songs

There’s just something about a sad song. Why do we love them so much? There a few theories out there that try to explain the appeal of diving into melodic heart break, but whatever the reason it seems to be an inarguable fact. We can’t get enough of music that hurts. 

Over the years, Disney has released a whole catalog of songs that serve as an emotional gut punch. A number didn’t make this list simply because we’ve written about them recently (for example “Goodbye May Seem Forever,” “Evermore,” “Dos Oroguitas,” and “Someone’s Waiting for You”). Luckily, there were still plenty to choose from and I’ve been relistening to them all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a little something in my eyes. 

God Help the Outcasts (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of Disney’s most startling achievements, a film that proved that animation was not “just for children.” It was a dark, passionate, philosophical film, as one could only expect from a movie based on Victor Hugo’s gothic masterpiece. 

“God Help the Outcasts,” which is performed by the character of Esmerelda (whose singing voice was provided by Heidi Mollenhauer) appears in the film shortly after the character has claimed sanctuary in the cathedral of Notre Dame. With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, the song is a prayer of pleading offered on behalf of the outcasts of the world, and more specifically her people, the Romani, who were the subject of persecution. The words of Esmerelda’s prayer are sharply contrasted with those of the people around her, who all pray for selfish gain. It’s a piercing, poignant song that (sadly) remains perpetually relevant.  

When She Loved Me (Toy Story 2)

Sarah McLachlan has made a career out of performing devastating songs, from “Angel” (now famously associated with a particular ASPCA commercial) to “I Will Remember You” and “Forgiveness.” So, she was essentially the perfect choice to perform Randy Newman’s “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2.

Out of context, it sounds like the perfect break-up song, a melancholy meditation on love lost. Within the context of the film, it becomes even more heartbreaking, with the character of Jessie reflecting on the child who loved and ultimately outgrew her, casting her aside as she ventured toward adulthood. 

Our Town (Cars)

It’s sad enough when a person is forgotten, but what about when it’s an entire group of people? That’s the story that Randy Newman told in “Our Town” from Cars, encapsulating the slow death of an American community. 

Performed by James Taylor, who brings his smooth, understated vocals and acoustic guitar style to the song, it recounts the effects that the interstate bypass had on towns all over Route 66. Visitors disappeared, while businesses dried up and closed. In a way, it’s a bit like a John Steinbeck novel placed to music, exploring what happens when profit and expediency are valued more than people. 

Baby Mine (Dumbo)

In a vacuum, Baby Mine from Dumbo seems nothing more than a lovely, comforting lullaby. Though perhaps a bit more melancholy than others, given lines that hint at themes of alienation and mockery in the film, such as:

Little one when you play 

Don’t you mind what you say

Let those eyes sparkle and shine

Never a tear, baby of mine

If they knew sweet little you

They’d end up loving you too

All those same people who scold you

What they’d give just for

The right to hold you

In the context of the movie, however, the song becomes even more heartbreaking. Mrs. Jumbo has been locked up in a train car after defending her child from bullying. Dumbo visits her and she attempts to comfort him from between the bars of her cell. 

With music by Frank Churchill and music by Ned Washington, “Baby Mine” has become a classic of American cinema, and is a song sure to make you hug your loved ones just a little tighter.

The Next Right Thing (Frozen 2)

Speaking of the song “The Next Right Thing,” actress Kristen Bell (who performed the role of Anna) stated, “A lot of people feel that feeling: What do I do when I don’t know what to do? My personal mantra is you just do the next right thing. It also stems from when I am experiencing anxiety and depression. What do I do when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning? You just do the next right thing, and that’s stepping out of bed. The next right thing is brushing your teeth. The next right thing is eating your breakfast. The next right thing is looking at your calendar and going to work. This idea of having an intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation is something that as a parent I know is incredibly important to show kids and to help them cope. I really wanted Anna to be representative of that.” 

Written by Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez (the duo behind the songs of Frozen, Coco, and Finding Nemo: The Musical), the song deals with feelings of helplessness and despair, surviving by simply placing one foot in front of the other. Bell’s voice is fragile through the first half of the song, gradually growing in strength as her character slowly finds the strength she needs to keep moving. 

We’ve Only Just Begun

Of course, this list only scratches the surface of Disney’s sad songs. They seem to have perfected the art of the melancholy melody, always finding a way to tug at our heart strings. And as fans, we just keep coming back for more, knowing that no matter how devastating the number is, the characters are destined for a happily ever after.  

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.”

5 More Often Forgotten Musical Gems from Disney

Last week, we took a look at five phenomenal songs that are often left out of the conversation when it comes to Disney’s best musical achievements. But one post was never going to be big enough when it comes to Disney’s hidden musical gems. So, this week we’re diving into five more.  

Bright Little Star 

One of the best musical experiences at Walt Disney World is hiding in plain sight at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. That’s where you’ll find the biggest little star in the galaxy, and his name is Sonny Eclipse. He’s a swank, swinging alien who serves as the entertainment at the restaurant, performing songs and engaging in witty banter between numbers. 

Honestly, I could have picked any of his songs and been happy with the selection. “Hello, Space Angels,” is a catchy ditty that hearkens back to the age of doo wop, while “Yew Nork, Yew Nork” feels like it could be crooned by Tom Jones or Tony Bennett. But for my money, “Bright Little Star” is the standout. It’s a beautiful love song with an infectious melody.

The voice of Sonny Eclipse was provided by Kal David, while Imagineer Kevin Rafferty and composer George Wilkins wrote the music and lyrics. As Rafferty noted in his memoir, ““George Wilkins and I wrote eight original songs for the character. I thought it would be fun for Sonny to sing different types of music, from ballads to rock to blues to “Bossa Super Nova” so we wrote in all those styles. I penned the lyrics and jokes to reflect Sonny’s outer space perspective.”

(1) Sonny Eclipse – Bright Little Star – YouTube

Little Wonders (Meet the Robinsons)

One of the best “forgotten gems” in Disney music comes from one of the biggest forgotten gems in Disney film. The movie is 2007’s Meet the Robinsons, which was based on the children’s picture book “A Day with Wilbur Robinson” by William Joyce.

The movie included the song “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas (best known as the front man for Matchbox 20). It’s a piece of polished pop perfection that can drag tears from the stoniest of hearts. 

According to Thomas, the song was written about his dog Tyler, a fact he noted on his Facebook page in 2017. In concerts he often told the story about the song’s inspiration stating, “My dog, like a lot of dogs I know, knew more about life than I did at certain times…There are so many times where you’re walking along and you’re taking them out for a walk and you’re miserable because it’s cold or something. And they look up at you as happy as they can possibly be, and they let you know that you’re missing a moment. Right there.”

(1) Meet The Robinsons – Little Wonders (HD) By Rob Thomas – YouTube

Goodbye May Seem Forever (The Fox and the Hound)

I promise that I’m not trying to include an excess of tear jerkers. Really. But if you’re going to listen to this song, you probably need to get a hankie ready.

“Goodbye May Seem Forever” was written by Richard Rich (music) and Jeffrey C. Patch (lyrics) for Disney’s 1981 animated film The Fox and the Hound. The movie was based off of the novel of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix. 

In the film, the song is performed by actress Jeanette Nolan, best known for her performances in television shows like “The Virginian.” In The Fox and the Hound, Nolan provided the voice for the character of the Widow Tweed, the adopted mother of the orphaned fox Tod. The song is sung as she brings Tod to a wildlife preserve to set him free in the wild. 

It’s heart wrenching and beautiful. 

(1) The Fox and the Hound (1981) – Good bye May Seem Forever – YouTube

Follow Me, Boys! (Follow Me, Boys!)

Perhaps it was the influence of their father Al Sherman, whose career was spent penning songs on Tin Pan Alley, but it seems that every song written by the Richard and Robert Sherman is catchy and endlessly singable. “Follow Me, Boys!” from the 1966 live action film of the same name, was penned by the Shermans and is sung by Fred MacMurry and the members of his scout troop.

One thing that makes it somewhat unique among Sherman brothers songs, is that it is a marching song (though not their only “military” style song, as we can’t forget “Colonel Hathi’s March” in The Jungle Book). In the film, MacMurray’s character, Lemuel Simmons, is a jazz saxophonist who decides to settle down in a small town. Along the way, he becomes the leader of a Boy Scout troop. He introduces the song, “Follow Me, Boys!” to his scouts and explains that it was a song he sang in the military while stationed in France. 

It’s a peppy, up-tempo piece that shares all of the stick-to-it-iveness and optimism that one expects from a song by the Shermans, as well as capturing the sense of cheerful resilience championed by Walt Disney. 

The song became a popular scouting song, and the Boy Scouts of America even considered adopting it as their official anthem, though the efforts were eventually abandoned. 

(1) Follow Me Boys Marching Song – YouTube

Flitterin’ (Summer Magic)

We’ll end our list with a number that appears in both Disney film and the parks (although in instrumental form). The song is “Flitterin’” from the 1963 musical Summer Magic, starring Hayley Mills, Burl Ives, and Dorothy McGuire. 

It should come as no surprise that this number was also penned by the Sherman Brothers. Wherever you turn in the wide world of Disney, it seems you come across their delightful melodies. The songs for Summer Magic were assigned to the Shermans by Walt as a method of testing if they’d be able to carry the music for a large scale production (such as Mary Poppins, which would be released a year later). Their compositions for Summer Magic passed with flying colors, as the duo crafted a number of catchy songs that were pure Americana. 

Today, the song can be heard in instrumental version on Main Street U.S.A. and on the “Walt Disney World Official Album” released in 2013. 

(1) Flittering/Beula – YouTube

5 Oft Forgotten Musical Gems from Disney

Oliver and Company

Part of Your World. Can You Feel the Love Tonight. Let It Go. When You Wish Upon a Star. When it comes to the world of Disney, there’s a seemingly endless list of superhits. But what about the lesser known numbers? The overlooked gems? 

The catalog of oft-forgotten and underrated Disney songs would put most song books to shame. This week we’ll be shining a spotlight on five of our favorites.  

Someone’s Waiting for You 

Let’s get things started with a tear-jerker. “Someone’s Waiting for You” from the animated masterpiece The Rescuers. The song writing duo of Carol Conners and Ayn Robbins (who gained an Academy Award nomination for “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky) teamed up with Sammy Fain (who earned 10 Academy Award nominations and won two over the course of his career) to write the number. 

Singer Shelby Flint performed the song in the film. The combination of Conners, Robbins, Fain, and Flint resulted in something truly magical. It’s simultaneously heartrending and hopeful. The song earned a nomination for Best Original Song at the 1977 Academy Awards, though it would ultimately lose to “You Light Up My Life” from the film of the same name. 

(1) The Rescuers (1977) – Someone’s Waiting For You – YouTube

The Best Time of Your Life

In 1974, the prolific songwriting duo of Richard and Robert Sherman sat down to compose a new theme song for Disney’s Carousel of Progress. The result was “The Best Time of Your Life,” which replaced the iconic “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (also penned by the Shermans).

According to Richard Sherman, GE’s president approached them and declared, “”I don’t want to talk about tomorrows, I want to talk about today, I want to talk about what now is all about.” With that in mind, the Sherman’s penned a song that is a celebration of the world around us. As with everything the Sherman’s write, it’s incredibly catchy and tends to get stuck in your head. But there are worse messages to have running on repeat in your brain. 

(1) The Best Time Of Your Life (Carousel of Progress Song) – DisneyAvenue.com – YouTube

Once Upon a Time in New York City

Between 1989 and his death in 1991, Howard Ashman penned songs for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. They’re some of the richest songs in the Disney canon, and solidified Ashman’s place as one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century.

But his first Disney lyrics appeared in the 1988 Disney film Oliver & Company. The song, “Once Upon a Time in New York City” featured music by Barry Mann (marking the only Disney song written by Ashman that was not a collaboration with Alan Menken). 

The song plays over the movie’s opening and is performed by Huey Lewis, and in a lot of ways feels like the quintessential Ashman song. There’s struggle mixed with a sense of dogged optimism, and behind it all is the big, beautiful mess known as New York City. 

(1) Oliver And Company – Once Upon A Time In New York City (English) – YouTube

Will the Sun Ever Shine Again?

It’s safe to say that 2004’s Home on the Range will probably not land itself on many people’s Mount Rushmore of Disney animated features. Released to somewhat disappointing box office numbers and middling critical reviews, the movie none-the-less boasts one of the best songs in Disney history. 

Written by Alan Menken, “Will the Sun Ever Shine Again?” was performed by Bonnie Raitt in the movie. Incorporating country and western with blues, Raitt’s gorgeous alto voice perfectly captures the pathos of Menken’s lyrics and music. 

Speaking of  his work on Home on the Range, Menken noted that he went on an authentic 19th century cattle drive as part of his research for the film. In his one man show at the D23 Expo, he also spoke of “Will The Sun Ever Shine Again?” stating, “One thing about this song besides the experience of working with Bonnie…this song got written very shortly after the 9/11 attack, and…a lot of songwriters tried to write something that expressed how they felt about it, and somehow this song, in a movie about cows, did it for me…”

(1) Home on the Range – Will The Sun Ever Shine Again? – YouTube

Swamp Fox (Theme Song)

Beginning in 1959 and running through 1961, The Swamp Fox was an eight-part mini-series released as part of “Walt Disney Presents.” Each episode featured the exploits of American Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, who was portrayed by Leslie Neilsen. 

While the series failed to duplicate the wild success of Davy Crockett (released in 1955), it was nevertheless an entertaining program. It clearly showed Walt Disney’s personal blend of patriotism and romanticism in regard to American history, though (as one might expect) it is more of a sanitized, mythologized version of the events than precise retelling.

Like Davy Crockett, the Swamp Fox had his own theme song, this one composed by Buddy Baker and Lewis  R. Foster. The lyrics reflection the difficult conditions that Marion’s men fought under and the scrappy spirit that kept them going. 

(1) Swamp Fox Theme Song (Golden Records) – YouTube

But wait, there’s more!

As stated at the outset, music has always been key to the Disney magic. Walt Disney himself once noted, “There’s a terrific power to music.  You can run any of these pictures and they’d be dragging and boring, but the minute you put music behind them, they have life and vitality they don’t get any other way.” And on another occasion stated, “”Music had always had a prominent part in all our products from the early cartoon days.  So much so, in fact, that I cannot think of the pictorial story without thinking about the complementary music that will fulfill it . . . “

This emphasis on the importance of melody explains why so many of his films, cartoons, and indeed the parks, are filled with brilliant music. Next week we’ll dive into five more overlooked musical gems from the Disney songbook. 

Warm Hugs and Dandelion Fuzz: ‘In Summer’ from Disney’s Frozen

As I sit to write this, it is a balmy 20 degrees farenheit outside (or -6.66667 celsius). And though I’m usually quite fond of the cold, I’ll admit that, like the lovable Olaf, I’m daydreaming about summer, and sun, and all things hot. Ah, to be lounging on a white sand beach. Listening to the sound of the rolling waves. Drinking out of a pineapple. Heaven.

Which leads us to this week’s focus: the perpetually charming and always singable ‘In Summer.’ The song was part of 2013’s mega-hit Frozen and, next to Let It Go, is easily the most popular and memorable moment in the film. 

The music in the film was composed by the husband and wife team of Robert Lopez (co-creator of Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon musicals) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (the couple also wrote the music for Walt Disney World’s Finding Nemo: The Musical, Frozen II, and the songs of Coco.)

The number is performed shortly after the characters of Anna and Sven meet Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad. Time Magazine described the piece as, “”A soft-shoe number with brilliant choreography of character, voice and visuals (it ends with a swirling tracking shot that quotes the one that accompanied Julie Andrews singing ‘The Sound of Music’), ‘In Summer’ makes Olaf’s weather delusion sound and look deliciously delirious.” 

  In 2014, the couple sat down with Professor W. Anthony Sheppard of Williams College to discuss their song writing process. 

“We don’t really divvy it up,” Robert Lopez said. “We talk and talk and talk. First about the story, making sure the story’s right and the song is in the right place. Then we talk and talk some more about what the song should be called. And then we just start playing. We start improvising.”

“We have a big white board,” Kristen Lopez adds. “I just put a whole bunch of ideas and lyrics and phrases up, and then like a day or two later it starts to gel into something.” 

Later in the interview, the couple explained that an earlier version of ‘In Summer’ was titled ‘Hot, Hot, Ice. According to Anderson-Lopez it, “was like ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ meets Simon & Garfunkel…it didn’t work.” 

When composing the piece, the couple made use of numerous triplets (defined as a three-note group that can be played in the same time duration as a two-note group), which help give the music the frolicking quality heard as Olaf dreams about playing in green fields underneath the summer sun.  

The couple also made use of their prior knowledge of Josh Gad and his vocal ability when writing the piece. Gad originated the role of Elder Cunningham in the first Broadway production of ‘The Book of Mormon,’ for which Lopez composed the music. 

Talking about his role as Olaf, Gad stated that the character, “…loves to hug people. That’s his great gift. He is so full of joy…He doesn’t really understand the concept of heat and summer, and the one thing he loves more than anything is the idea of summer, the magic that summer might be. Even though he doesn’t understand the consequences of what that means and so he embraces this notion that, in a world in which there can be summer, he has yet to experience something like that. And that’s what he strives for.”

It was that very naivety and innocence (captured so perfectly in the song ‘In Summer’) that Gad loved about the character. In a behind-the-scenes interview he stated, “There’s something about that youthful innocence where you can go all the way. Your sandbox is endless with that kind of character…This character does the most insane things without any fear of what might happen.” 

Despite that, Gad does not view him as simple comic relief, stating that the character, “lives to love.” 

In another interview, this time with Rotten Tomatoes, Gad reflected on the film’s music stating, “The music is so powerful in that, it’s not just there to underscore as is often the case, but it’s there to emotionally take us on this journey.”

Speaking specifically of ‘In Summer,’ he recalled, “I grew up watching Aladdin and I remember sitting in the theater and watching Robin Williams belt out his big number, ‘You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me,’ and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I wanna do that someday. That is my big dream.’” 

Given the popularity of the character and the number, it’s shocking to learn that it almost didn’t make it to the final film. That’s because the initial version of Olaf was nothing like the version we ended up seeing, and his big show stopping number was viewed as more irritating than charming. 

A ScreenRant article quotes Jennifer Lee (director of ‘Frozen’) as stating, “When I saw the screening — I wasn’t on the project yet — every time he appeared I wrote, ‘Kill the f-ing snowman.’ I just wrote, ‘Kill him. I hate him. I hate him.'”

In fact, his character was originally designed to be just as icy as the character Elsa seemed on the surface. Fortunately, as noted in Variety, “…a “sneaky” staff animator had worked out a three-page script treatment with Gad in mind after he impressed filmmakers with a late night TV appearance. Lee found him irresistible, and the rest is box office history.”

As the temperature continues to drop around me, I’ll be listening to the song and fantasizing about warmer days. Ready to sing along with me? 

Bees’ll buzz, kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz

And I’ll be doing whatever snow does

In summer

A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand

Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned

In summer

I’ll finally see a summer breeze blow away a winter storm

And find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm

And I can’t wait to see what my buddies all think of me

Just imagine how much cooler I’ll be

In summer

Da da, da doo, ah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, boo

The hot and the cold are both so intense

Put ’em together, it just makes sense

Ratdadat, dadadadoo

Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle

But put me in summer and I’ll be a happy snowman

When life gets rough I like to hold onto my dreams

Of relaxing in the summer sun, just letting off steam

Oh, the sky will be blue, and you guys’ll be there too

When I finally do what frozen things do

In summer

In summer!

The Art of Relaxation: Disney’s New Album Lofi Minnie: Chill

Last year, Disney released the album Lofi Minnie: Focus to great success. It racked up 12 million streams worldwide, with the song Hakuna Matata garnering 4.5 million streams alone. A little less than 12 months later, and the company is hoping to duplicate that success with the release of Lofi Minnie: Chill.

Announcing the album, Tim Pennoyer, Enterprise Franchise Management, said, “As Minnie Mouse is one of Disney’s most celebrated icons, she’s a source of comfort for so many around the world. Bringing listeners comfort, and a way to unwind, is a huge part of what makes lo-fi special too. We saw those elements marry so well in the release of our first album, ‘Lofi Minnie: Focus’, that we knew we couldn’t stop at just one. We’re so grateful to the brilliant lo-fi talent involved in this project. None of this could be possible without them, and their styles are so nuanced that this album really has something for everyone while maintaining a consistent vibe throughout. Many lo-fi music fans get in the zone by listening for hours, so we stacked 16 songs into lo-fi Minnie: Chill for fans to get over an hour of listening with the first album combined. We’re just getting started on reimagining fresh new interpretations of Minnie Mouse like this and are so excited for people to see what she has in store.”

The track list features:

  1. “Circle of Life” (The Lion King) – Team Astro
  2. “Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas) – WYS
  3. “You’ll Be in My Heart” (Tarzan) – Jeff Kaale
  4. “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” (Hercules) – Gnarly
  5. “Reflection” (Mulan) – Philanthrope
  6. “Beauty and the Beast” (Beauty and the Beast) – Hippo Dreams
  7. “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Pinocchio) – Jazzinuf
  8. “The Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book) – Pastels
  9. “Winnie the Pooh” (Winnie the Pooh) – Sagun
  10. “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (Mary Poppins) – Hoogway
  11. “Strangers Like Me” (Tarzan) – mommy
  12. “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (Mulan) – Kerusu
  13. “When Will My Life Begin?” (Tangled) – Ruth de las Plantas
  14. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (Encanto) – Otelsa
  15. “Let It Go” (Frozen) – eevee
  16. “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (Cinderella) – Made in M

A Brief History

Pinning down the origins of lo-fi music can be a bit difficult. As noted by The Music Origins Project, “Light distortion, jazz samples, fuzzy vinyl sounds, and the light crashing of waves. No CD’s, no live concerts, little to no lyrics, and no commercial music videos. These are some of the most notable traits of what is now known as lo-fi music. You could even say that these key characteristics are the defining factors of lo-fi as a genre. But, how can you fully explain the origins of a genre that essentially does not want to be defined?”

Of course, there is a technical definition out there, but it doesn’t completely clear things up. In his 2018 article An Exploration of the Lo Fi Aesthetic, John Greenfield writes, “Lo-fi comes from the term “low fidelity”, which in its simplest terms is the opposite of Hi-Fi or “high fidelity”. It’s an aesthetic of music that captures the imperfections during recording and production, often with the sound being “low quality” compared to contemporary standards. It’s a bit hard to pin down exactly what makes something lo-fi, with many wrongly suggesting that it’s harmonic distortion or “analogue warmth” that make up the core features of lo-fi music, but it’s actually defined by “the inclusion of elements normally viewed as undesirable in professional contexts, such as misplayed notes, environmental interference, or phonographic imperfections (degraded audio signals, tape hiss, and so on).”

But none of that really tells us what type of music it is. In part, that’s because it has changed stylistically over the years. The use of lo-fi techniques date back to the 1950s, and artists like the Beach Boys were among the more popular acts to employ the methods. However, you’ll find nothing resembling the Beach Boys in Disney’s new album. 

During the 80s and 90s, the term became embraced by a variety of indie artists that embraced a DIY ethic. The early work of Pavement, who hail from Stockton California and were fronted by Stephen Malkmus, may be the quintessential example, particularly their classic album Slanted and Enchanted.

Greenfield goes on to note that, beginning in the late 2000s, lo-fi became associated with “chill wave and hypnagogic pop music genres,” (hypnagogic meaning “relating to the state immediately before falling to sleep.”) It draws influence from hip-hop, jazz, and lounge music, and is designed to feed a relaxed mood. In fact, as noted in an article about the release of lo-fi Minnie Chill, “lo-fi is typically marked by instrumentals and a tempo of 70-90 beats per minute to match the human heart rate.”

The Album

It is this later interpretation of lo-fi that defines the style that you’ll find on Lofi Minnie: Chill, and each contributing artist executes it to perfection. It can be a tricky business reinterpreting songs that are well-known and beloved around the world. But each of the tracks on the album do so with seeming ease, maintaining the familiarity of the melody while transforming it into the lo-fi style to create something unique.

It’s difficult to pick a particular stand-out on the album. Not only because each is executed well by the contributing artists, but because the very nature of the music creates a sense of flow. Having a “standout” type track would almost be counterproductive to the albums overall intent. In fact, listeners can stream this new album with last year’s Lofi Minnie: Focus back to back for an even deeper listening experience with the one feeding perfectly into the other. 

The album can be found wherever you stream music.