5 Disney Musicians to Celebrate for Pride Month

The LGBTQIA+ community has made innumerable contributions to the world of Disney, from the cast members at Disney Parks to Disney performers on Broadway, in film, and on television, they’ve played a vital role in making the company what we know and love. In honor of Pride Month, let’s take a look at five LGBTQIA+ musicians who have made major contributions to Disney.

Howard Ashman

One could easily argue that without Howard Ashman, the Disney Rennaisance would never have taken place. Providing the lyrics for composer Alan Menken’s, he helped write some of Disney’s most beloved songs, working on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, as well as Aladdin. He won two Academy Awards and earned a total of seven nominations, taking home the trophy for Best Original Song with “Under the Sea” and “Beauty and the Beast” in 1989 and 1991 respectively. Amazingly, in both years he was nominated multiple times, earning two nominations for The Little Mermaid and three for Beauty and the Beast.

Ashman’s Disney career began in 1986, when he was brought into to write a song for Oliver & Company. The result was “Once Upon a Time in New York City,” which he co-wrote with Barry Mann. Huey Lewis performed the song on the soundtrack. 

In addition to his Academy Awards, Ashman’s work would earn him two Golden Globes and five Grammy Awards.

At the age of 40, Ashman passed away, three years after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. His partner Bill Lauch accepted his Academy Award for Beauty and the Beast stating, “Howard and I shared a home and a life together, and I’m very happy and very proud to accept this for him…But it is bittersweet. This is the first Academy Award given to someone we’ve lost to AIDS.”

The credits of Beauty and the Beast contained a tribute to Ashman, which read, “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul. We will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950-1991.” 

Elton John 

In 1976, Elton John came out as bisexual during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Twelve years later, he would state that he was “comfortable” with his gayness while talking to the magazine again. An article in the Clinton Digital Library states, “In 1993 John began a relationship with David Furnish, an advertising executive turned filmmaker. They entered into a civil partnership when it became legal in 2005; then when gay marriage became legal in England in 2014 they were one of the first couples to tie the knot formally. John and Furnish have two sons. In addition, John has ten godchildren.”

He was brought on board to work with Disney when lyricist Tim Rice was hired to work on The Lion King. The duo wrote five original songs for the film, three of which (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Hakunnah Matata,” and “Circle of Life”) would be nominated for Academy Awards for “Best Original Song.” The song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” would take home the trophy, as well as the Golden Globe Award for the same category. The track would also take home the Grammy for “Best Male Vocal Performance.” 

Among it’s many other accomplishments, the soundtrack for The Lion King became the 4th best selling album of 1994, and is the only animated film soundtrack to be certified Diamond (10x Platinum). 


Raven-Symoné’s acting career began when she was three years old, performing as Olivia Kendall in The Cosby Show. In 1990, she appeared in “The Muppets at Walt Disney World,” a special which was part of the Wonderful World of Disney.

Her massive success with the company would come after she auditioned for the role of Chelsea Daniels in the series Absolutely Psychic. However, her role was changed to that of Raven Baxter, and the series was retitled That’s So Raven. The series debuted on the Disney Channel and ran for four years, becoming the channel’s highest rated program as well as it’s longest running (though it was eventually surpassed by Wizards of Waverly Place). 

Symoné recorded multiple songs for the show’s soundtrack, including “Supernatural” and “Shine.” The album would reach #44 on the Billboard charts and has been certified Gold with over 500,000 copies sold.

In 2003, she starred in The Cheetah Girls, the Disney Channel’s first musical. The soundtrack became one of the best selling Walt Disney Records albums of all time, going double Platinum and reaching number one on the Billboard Kid Album Charts. 

Throughout her career, she has been omnipresent on the Disney Channel. She performed roles in cartoons like Kim Possible, as well as Disney Channel Original Movies like Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. In 2017, she returned to her role as Raven Baxter in the series Raven’s Home.

In a 2016 video called “It Gets Better” Symoné talked about difficulties she faced coming out. She recalled, “I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn’t matter…It was only supposed to be sold as, you know, a Raven Symone record…I couldn’t say it out loud…It was always negative. So, if you don’t see other people going through it in a positive way, why would you say anything? There was nothing that would have made me want to deal with my own issue at that time.” She would go on to state how much better she felt after coming out stating, “I felt lighter. I felt like I could go out and not have to put on 17 different hats to be myself. I realize that just living my truth of what I am, there’s one less person to fight me in my own head.”

Auli’i Cravalho

Auli’i Cravalho rocketed to fame when she appeared in the title role of Disney’s 2016 animated hit Moana. However, initially she hadn’t even planned to audition for the role. Speaking to People, she recalled, “ “A few of my friends actually flew out to Disneyland to try out… I was getting through freshman year, I was settling in really well and I had many things on my plate. And there were already so many great submissions that I didn’t think I needed to try out.”

Her performance as Moana helped the soundtrack (which included music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i) reach #2 on the Billboard 200. In addition, the song “How Far I’ll Go,” written by Miranda and performed by Cravalho, would earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song and an Academy Award nomination in the same category. 

In April of 2020, Cravalho came out as bisexual on TikTok. Speaking to Teen Vogue a year later, she stated, “The funniest part to me was that I had girlfriends in high school. I think girls are great, but I wouldn’t think that it was necessary to come out.” She also reflected on fans who said that her openness inspired them. As noted in the article, she “opened up about how her TikTok even prompted people from her past to reach out with positive messages. ‘Like, ‘Wow, that’s really great,’” she quoted them. ‘I wouldn’t have the confidence to come out like you did in a TikTok, but hey, way to be real Gen-Z about it and push forward into the future.”

Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff earned global recognition for his role as Melchior Gabor in the Tony Award winning musical Spring Awakening. Within a few years, he earned evengreater public recognition as a regular guest star on the hit musical comedy-drama Glee.

Ironically, his initial foray into the world of Disney featured minimal singing. He performed the role of Kristoff in the 2013 film Frozen. Despite his vocal credentials and capabilities, the only number he performed in the movie was the 50 second song “Reindeers are Better Than People.” 

He reprised the role of Kristoff in Frozen Fever where he was one of the performers singing in “Making Today a Perfect Day.” In 2017, he performed “The Ballad of Flemmingrad” in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Two years later, he got his first real Disney solo singing “Lost in the Woods” in Frozen II.

In 2015, Groff debuted the role of King George in the Broadway production of Hamilton, a role he would reprise in the 2020 Disney + film production of the musical.

Speaking to Playbill about his sexuality, he recalled, “Coming from Lancaster, PA, I didn’t have a lot of gay role models because it’s a very conservative community, and the people who were gay when I was growing up were pretty closeted, but one of the great things that I still value and really valued back then was that I met a lot of gay people working in the theatre, and it was just so comforting to know that you could be gay and have a life… So the fact that if I’m an out actor, and kids can have that same sort of release and experience, it’s incredibly meaningful.”

When it comes to the actual process of coming out, he mused, “when I look back now and I think about what it was like to be closeted, I think, “The release and relief and just the way that life gets better after you stop living a compartmentalized existence is major and is something you can’t really understand until you finally take that leap.”

10 Songs You’ll Hear in Tomorrowland

Stepping into the Magic Kingdom (or any Disney park for that matter) is a cinematic experience. Sightlines, architecture, and landscaping have all been specifically designed to fully immerse the Guest in the “story” the land is trying to tell. As in a movie, the soundtrack plays a huge part in the experience. 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at Main Street USA and Frontierland, so this week let’s take a little trip into the future with the music of Tomorrowland.

There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

Watching Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a bit like getting a first-hand encounter with Walt Disney’s heart. He seemed to live with one foot planted firmly in nostalgia and the other in the future, a perfect description of the attraction.

Created for the 1964 World’s Fair, the show needed a theme song and Walt Disney turned to his favorite composers: the Sherman Brothers. The duo penned “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” a song that not only captured the essence of the show but of Walt Disney himself. As Marty Sklar later recalled, “Walt Disney was the eternal optimist, and he really believed that things could be better. And Bob and Dick Sherman wrote that song as a personal ode to Walt. They really meant it…That was Walt’s anthem, and they recognized that.”

Strange Things

When listening to the ambient music in Tomorrowland, you’re hearing the music of Dan Foliart. Some of the pieces are original, while others are adaptations of classic Disney music. A prolific composer for television, he has written music for more than 50 series, including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Beverly Hills 90210, and Home Improvement.  

“Strange Things” was originally written by Randy Newman for the first Toy Story film, which kicked off a relationship that would lead to Newman’s subsequent work with the company. To date, he has written music for 7 Pixar films and has earned two Academy Awards for his work with the company. 

Swanson’s Lab (The Monorail Song)

Buddy Baker’s list of compositions for Disney is impressive. He wrote music for The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Shaggy D.A., Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, as well as attractions like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Haunted Mansion. 

In 1959, the Disneyland Alweg Monorail opened. A year prior, on the Disneyland television program, Disney introduced “The Monorail Song,” which played during the episode “Magic Highway.” The piece was written by Buddy Baker. However, the version that Guests can hear today is an adaptation titled “Swanson’s Lab” by Dan Foliart. 

Dance of the Molecules

Describing his musical vision, Dan Foliart stated, “When I started writing music, I knew that I wanted to accomplish three things: to create something unique, to write music that would elicit an emotion from the listener and to create something that I could be proud of. That’s still true today. It has been my hope that every project that I have been a part of has ended up with its signature sound; a sound that wouldn’t be confused with another and that would enhance the images that it was associated with. I continue with that quest today and I am still getting the same excitement that I did when I first heard the great musicians play the opening bars many years ago.”

“Dance of the Molecules” by Dan Foliart certainly fulfills that vision, perfectly bridging the gap between futurism and retro sci-fi nostalgia that is the essence of the modern Tomorrowland. 

Aurora Borealis (If You Had Wings)

Part of the Tomorrowland area music loop, Aurora Borealis is Dan Foliart’s adaptation of the classic attraction song “If You Had Wings.” The original song (created for the attraction of the same name) was composed by Buddy Baker with lyrics by X. Atencio and debuted in Walt Disney World when the attraction opened on January 5, 1972. 

The attraction was an Omnimover-style ride which was, for all intents and purposes, an elaborate advertisement for Eastern Airlines. It took Guests to locations like Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rica, and more, many of which were referenced in Atencio’s lyrics.  

The Best Time of Your Life

Another Dan Foliart adaptation, the original version of “The Best Time of Your Life” was composed by the Sherman Brothers as a new theme for the Carousel of Progress. As the Shermans recalled, “Three years after Walt Disney World opened, the Carousel of Progress moved east from Disneyland to Florida, and we were invited to write a brand new theme song: ‘The Best Time Of Your Life.’” 

The song was used in the attraction from 1974 until 1996 when it reverted back to using “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” However, fans can hear Foliart’s adaptation as part of the Tomorrowland area music loop, and can hear the song referenced on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover when the narrator says, “Now is the time, now is the best time…”

Moons of Saturn (Miracles from Molecules)

Opened in 1967 at Disneyland, Adventures Thru Inner Space “shrank” Guests to a size smaller than an atom by passing through the Monsanto Mighty Microscope. It was a tour of the molecular and subatomic world.

The theme song was written by the Sherman Brothers and was a celebration of scientific advancement while also serving as a not-so-subtle promotion of agrochemical and biotech giant Monsanto’s company mission. 

The “Moons of Saturn” track is Dan Foliart’s instrumental adaptation of the song, giving it a slightly more retro sci-fi feel.


TRON Lightcycle / Run is the newest addition to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. It’s a thrilling, breakneck race in the Grid that is unlike any other experience in the park. The music for the attraction features updates of the film score written by French duo Daft Punk for the 2010 film Tron: Legacy.

“MK_Gateway” was produced by Joseph Trapanese, whose previous work includes The Greatest Showman, Straight Outta Compton, and The Witcher. The track is an adaptation of the recurring theme from Tron: Legacy, which brilliantly evokes both the sense of majesty and beauty that Guests will experience in the Grid, as well as the thrilling adventure they’ll have on the coaster. 

Hello, Space Angels

Composer George Wilkins and Imagineer Kevin Rafferty wrote the music for Sonny Eclipse, the resident musician inside Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. With a voice provided by Kal David, Sonny Eclipse is an extraterrestrial lounge singer who performs on his astro-organ with the help of his invisible backup singers, the Space Angels.

“Hello, Space Angels” is one of the songs featured in his set, and explains the origins of how the Space Angels joined Sonny’s act. The part of the Space Angels was performed by a vocal group known as The Brunettes, which included Kal David’s wife Lauri Bond. 

If I Didn’t Have You

While you won’t hear the original version of Randy Newman’s Oscar-winning “If I Didn’t Have You” in Tomorrowland, you can hear an adaptation of it on the Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor.

The original piece was composed for the 2001 film Monsters, Inc., and earned Newman his first Academy Award. The version on the Monsters Inc, Laugh Floor, is a sped-up, jazzier version of the track that perfectly captures the high-energy feel of the comedy show, especially the slapstick moments featuring Mike Wazowski. 

5 Disney Tracks to Inspire Your Next Adventure

Most of us will never go in search of lost cities, dive for sunken treasure, or hack our way through the heart of the rainforest in search of fame and fortune. Sad, but true. Unless…we quit our jobs, sell all of our belongings, and join up with an expedition right now. Say goodbye to responsibility and hello to adventure!

Still here? Me too. 

That being the case, we’ll have to find vicarious means of adventure. Fortunately, the Disney parks have given us Adventureland, and Disney film has given us a wealth of exciting stories to explore.

Those films have given us some rousing music, the type that is sure to fuel dreams of distant shores and hard earned glory.

He’s a Pirate – Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer

Upon its 2003 release, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl became an immediate smash hit, successfully bringing a Disney attraction to the silver screen and introducing the public to the now iconic Captain Jack Sparrow. 

For the soundtrack, Disney turned to composers Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer. Disney initially approached Zimmer to be the primary composer, but at the time he was working on the soundtrack for The Last Samurai. According to Zimmer, “I absolutely promised both Tom Cruise and Ed Zwick that I wasn’t going to moonlight on anything else, and when I made the promise, I really, really believed it! But then Gore got into a little bit of trouble and I said to him, ‘I can’t score this movie, there’s no way I can, but my friend Klaus [Badelt] probably can.’ Klaus is a wonderful composer, but I couldn’t help myself from writing many of the tunes, and then I sort of orchestrated the way those tunes would sound as well, setting the tone. Klaus wrote some more tunes and with our tunes wrote the score, and Blake Neely, Geoff Zanelli, and everyone else went at it.”

The rousing song “He’s a Pirate” became the most memorable piece created for the film, becoming something of a pop culture staple. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers even began using it during home games. It’s impossible to hear without dreaming of pieces of eight, and that special sense of excitement that can only be found aboard a ship on the ocean. 

The Raiders March – John Williams

John Williams has given cinema some of its greatest music, from sci-fi classics like Star Wars and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial to the majestic beauty of Seven Years in Tibet and the haunting pathos of Schindler’s List. One of his most memorable pieces comes from the Indiana Jones franchise. 

Mention Indy to anyone and they’ll think immediately of “The Raiders March.” It’s the theme song that came to define the films, as recognizable as Jones’s trademark fedora and whip. The story of its creation is its own adventure.

It seems that Williams composed two separate pieces and asked director Steven Spielberg to pick the one he liked best. In an article detailing the history of Williams’s score, Charlie Brigden noted that Williams presented, “a brash heroic throwback to Max Steiner and even the swashbuckling days of Erich Wolfgang Korngold and The Sea Hawk (1940), or a propulsive phrasing easily fitting the avoidance of pitfalls and booby traps headlined in the job description of our favorite “obtainer of rare antiquities”.  In a genius move, Spielberg picked both – the first as the main theme and the second as the bridge and B-theme.”

It’s a testament to Spielberg’s vision and Williams’s composing genius that the two blend together to create such a stunning and memorable piece of music, the perfect accent to the movie. 

Main Title (Captain Nemo’s Theme) – Paul J. Smith

Paul J. Smith’s first contribution to the world of Disney music came when he provided the score for the 1936 classic cartoon Thru The Mirror. Over the years he would contribute to both animated and live-action Disney projects, including Bambi, Fun and Fancy-Free, Melody Time, So Dear to My Heart, The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, The Great Locomotive Chase, and The Light in the Forest, to name just a few. 

He also contributed the music to 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason. However, at the time of the movie’s release, Disney decided not to release an official soundtrack. Instead, they released a pair of albums that contained the film’s story as narrated by Ned Land.

It took until 2008 for Disney to release the film’s official soundtrack, along with a digital booklet with notes about the score. Visitors to Walt Disney World may also remember the theme as the background music that played during the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage that was a part of the Magic Kingdom from 1971-1994. Always a slightly eerie-sounding piece (though blended with a sense of majesty in Smith’s original) the piece became even more ominous as part of the attraction, where it was performed on the organ.

Main Title & Admiral Benbow – Clifton Parker

One of the greatest adventure stories ever told Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island has been inspiring readers to set to sea and hunt for pirate treasure for 140 years. The tale of Jim Hawkins, the Hispaniola, and the treacherous Long John Silver is a thrilling coming-of-age story. 

In 1950, Disney brought the story to the screen. It was not the first adaptation or even the second. Two silent versions were produced in 1918 and 1920 respectively. A “talkie” was released in 1934, starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, and Lionel Barrymore. However, it was the first color version produced and Disney’s first fully live-action film.

The creation of the soundtrack took two distinct forms. The first came in the form of the sea shanties used. An article written the year of the film’s release notes, “Under the general supervision of Muir Mathieson, (music director to the production) Mrs. Buck, his personal assistant, conducted a research during which over three hundred sea shanties and old maritime songs were examined before a final selection was submitted to the production chief, Perce Pearce. It was essential that the songs chosen should not only be correct for the period (1765) but also that they should be suitable in lilt and tempo to the scenes involved. Walt Disney himself heard a number of test recordings before the final selection was made.”

Composer James Clifton provided the score, including the thrilling “Main Theme & Admiral Benbow.” He was uniquely qualified for the job, having already made a name for himself composing music for nautical films like Johnny Frenchman, The Blue Lagoon, and Western Approaches.

The opening track begins majestically, providing a sense of adventure that immediately calls to mind the rolling waves of the ocean and the wind filling out a sail. It then transitions into a slow passage that conjures images of sweeping vistas. Before it ends, the track even includes a segment that gives a feel for the creeping dread and danger brought by the pirates. It’s an entire journey in a single piece of music. 

Nothing Else Matters (Jungle Cruise Version – Part 2) – James Newton Howard & Metallica

When you think of Disney films, the mind naturally jumps to the music of Metallica. Wait…what? That’s right. Metallica. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and icons of heavy metal teamed up with Disney to supply music for the 2021 film Jungle Cruise. According to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, “It really goes back to [Disney production president] Sean Bailey, who is a lifelong rock fan, and is just all-around one of the greatest, most friendly, generous, warm, and embracing people you’ll find in the music business. I think he’s always been a Metallica fan, and we’ve gotten to know each other well. My wife and I are big Disney fans, so there’s a great friendship there, and he’s always looked for the right match where there was a way that Metallica could contribute to some project of theirs.”

The band worked with composer James Newton Howard, who wrote the score for the film and came up with an instrumental version of the song “Nothing Else Matters” from the band’s eponymous 1991 album (frequently referred to as “The Black Album”). 

An instrumental version of the song, Howard re-worked it, leaning heavily into the guitar line and giving it a Spanish-sounding flair. As curious as the combination sounds, it works beautifully, helping lend the film a sense of wonder and mystery. 

Six Classics Disney Sea Shanties

There’s just something about a sea shanty. Even in modern times, they have a way of capturing our imagination. A few years ago, the 19th-century song “The Wellerman” gained viral fame thanks to performances on Tik Tok, resurrecting a song most likely written by a teenage sailor in New Zealand around the 1830s.

There are a lot of theories behind why these songs continue to pull on the popular imagination. I myself am partial to words penned by Jimmy Buffett in his novel, “A Salty Piece of Land.” In it, a character muses, “…there are no words to the song of the ocean, but the message is and always has been simple: not to forget where we came from. The melody is locked in the water that composes much of what we are. Most humans tend to ignore the song, but not all…But be warned: it is a wandering song carried by the winds and the currents. It can turn you into a piece of driftwood that washes up on shore after shore…”

It may not be the most scientific of explanations, but it strikes a chord of truth. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into a few of the notable times that the song of the ocean has emerged into the world of Disney music. 

A Whale of a Tale

In 1954, Disney released 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a live-action film starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason that would become a classic. Based on Jules Verne’s novel of the same name, it told the epic adventure of Ned Land, Captain Nemo, and the Nautilus.

In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the character of Ned Land grabs a guitar and begins to perform on the deck of a navy frigate. The song he sings is a catchy ditty called “A Whale of Tale,” and it tells of the romantic misadventures of the singer during his life at sea.

The piece was written by Al Hoffman and Norman Gimbel, both accomplished songwriters who were eventually inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

Popular at the time of its release, the shanty has had remarkable longevity, even showing up briefly in the 2003 Pixar film Finding Nemo

Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)

In terms of nautical Disney songs, this is the big one. It’s the musical equivalent of Captain Kidd’s treasure, the shanty to end all sea shanties. In terms of pirate songs, it’s hard to think of many that rival its fame and ubiquity. Perhaps “Drunken Sailor” or “Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest.” 

As the theme song for the groundbreaking attraction Pirates of the Caribbean, it holds an important part in Disney’s history, which is why it’s so surprising that a novice songwriter was asked to craft it. 

Xavier Atencio didn’t join Disney as a lyricist. He was an artist. But during the development of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, Walt Disney became concerned that the pirates’ lifestyle would not be family-friendly enough. Atencio suggested softening them some by including a shanty. According to Atencio, “I just came up with some dialogue that the pirates might have said and set it to music. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum–that was a big part of the inspiration, that classic phrase.”

He never expected to write the final version of the lyrics, assuming that they would be assigned to Walt’s favorite pair of songwriters, The Sherman Brothers. But Walt was so taken with the lyrics that he teamed him with the legendary composer George Bruns to complete the song. 

A Professional Pirate

Muppets. Robert Louis Stevenson. Tim Curry. Add those three elements together and you’ve got cinematic perfection. Some may argue that Citizen Kane is the greatest film of all time, but they clearly forget the unparalleled brilliance of 1996’s Muppet Treasure Island.

Tim Curry masterfully portrays the villainous Long John Silver, and his crowning achievement in the film is his performance of the song “A Professional Pirate.” It’s sung by Silver and his crew of pirates in an attempt to persuade young Jim Hawkins to join them in their piratical ways. 

Written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, the song was composed before Tim Curry was cast in the role, and the production team was thrilled when he was ultimately named for the role. According to producer Martin Baker, “Brian (Henson) had some very definite ideas about what the song needed to accomplish and reveal dramatically in the relationship of Long John and Jim and that called for a certain kind of lyric. Barry and I really worked together on this one and when we finished, I just hoped that Brian would cast someone who could handle it. We were overjoyed when Tim was cast. It was a dream come true to have a real singer dig into the material. Tim is incredibly talented, professional, and the answer to a songwriter’s dream!”

A Pirate’s Life (Is a Wonderful Life) 

These days, most folks probably think of Jack Sparrow when they muse about Disney pirates, but that wasn’t always the case. For a long time, Captain Hook and the crew of the Jolly Roger were the definitive Disney buccaneers. 

Curiously, Hook wasn’t even in the earliest drafts of J.M. Barrie’s classic play Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Luckily, Barrie eventually added the character, realizing that children were captivated by pirates. In the novelization of the play, Barrie states, “Hook was not his true name. To reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country in a blaze.”

The song “A Pirate’s Life (Is a Wonderful Life)” is sung by the crew aboard the Jolly Roger, and simultaneously romanticizes the life of a pirate, while warning of its perils. As it notes, “A pirate’s life is a wonderful life. You’ll find adventure and sport. – But live every minute for all that is in it. The life of a pirate is short.”

Erdman “Ed” Penner and Oliver Wallace composed the song, and it later appeared on the Mickey’s Fun Songs album Beach Party at Walt Disney World. On the official soundtrack, the piece is performed by the Jud Conlon Chorus. 

Alas, the song is also the impetus for one of Captain Hook’s greatest crimes: shooting the man in the middle of his cadenza. 

Fathoms Below

I’ll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue

And it’s hey to the starboard, heave-ho

Brave sailor, beware, cause a big ‘uns a-brewin’

In mysterious fathoms below


So begins the song “Fathoms Below” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Written by the songwriting duo of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, it’s a rousing number that celebrates the mystery and majesty of the ocean.

While working on the music for the movie, Ashman conceived of the song as part of an underwater montage. Sadly, fans never got to see his entire vision for the number, as a significant portion of it was cut by Jeffrey Katzenberg, who didn’t believe that audiences would be patient enough to sit through a long opening song. It’s unfortunate, as that extended sequence added an interesting wrinkle to the story. In it, Ursula was revealed to be King Triton’s sister, and thus Ariel’s aunt. 

Fans of the song can still hear it performed as part of Walt Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant performed in the Seven Seas Lagoon. However, the figure in the pageant is not King Triton, but King Neptune from Roman mythology.   

Hoist the Colours

The world of Pirates of the Caribbean has given us two classic nautical songs. The first came in the form “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me) from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The second is “Hoist the Colours” from the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

It’s a haunting and beautiful piece, which was written by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, with music by Hans Zimmer and Gore Verbinski. It relates the story of Davy Jones and Calypso and, in the story, was also used as a way to summon the Brethren Court.  

Speaking of its inspiration, Ted Elliot stated, “The one that was really interesting is the Snopes legend. You know the Web site Snopes has that section about ‘fake true American legends.’ One of them is the idea that the four and twenty blackbirds baked into a pie was Blackbeard’s recruiting song. When Blackbeard came into port, these people would go around and sing this song when he was looking for a crew. It was just such a fun idea and it’s a shame it’s not true, so we decided to make it true and the song ‘Hoist the Colors,’ sung at the beginning and Keira sings it and it’s referenced in a couple of ways, every one of the verses tells the story of Davy Jones and Calypso. It starts with ‘the king and his men stole the queen from her bed’… We sat down and wrote that out and it’s based on a fake legend from the Snopes Web site.”

5 More Iconic Phineas and Ferb Songs

Last week, we dipped our toes into the brilliant, musical world of Phineas and Ferb. As mentioned, creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh made a point of including a song in each episode. While it would seem a daunting prospect, the duo managed to churn out catchy ditties in a variety of styles throughout the show’s entire run. 

Gitchee Gitchee Goo

One of the most iconic songs in the series’ history debuted early in its run. The episode, known as ‘Flop Starz’ was the third of the show’s first season. It featured a parody of American Idol in the form of a singing competition entitled The Next Super American Pop Teen Idol Star

Phineas and Ferb start a band known as Phineas and the Ferb-Tones and become instant sensations after writing “Gitchee Gitchee Goo.” The lyrics are a throwback to classic novelty songs like “Witch Doctor” by Ross Bagdasarian or “Who Put the Bomp” by Barry Mann, though with an 80s sort of twist that brings in synthesizers and electric guitar. There are elements of doo-wop and old-school Motown in it too, with the group even going so far as to have a group of backup singers known as The Ferbettes.

Sadly, for fans of Phineas and the Ferb-Tones, there would be no more music. As Phineas says when Huge-O-Records asks about their follow-up record, “Follow-up single?! Who do you think we are, some two-bit hacks who will keep writing you songs simply because you pay us obscene amounts of cash? Phineas and the Ferb-Tones are strictly a one-hit wonder. Good day to you, sir.”

Gitchee Gitchee Goo with lyrics – YouTube

My Name is Doof

Season 2 of Phineas and Ferb brought with it a clip show review of some of the series’ most popular music. The episode was titled “Phineas and Ferb Musical Cliptacular” and was hosted by the characters of Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Major Monogram.

Along with a re-cap of fan-favorite musical moments, the episode introduced a new song titled “My Name is Doof.” As part of his plan for world domination (or at least domination of the Tri-State Area) Doofenshmirtz composed a song that was “scientifically created to get stuck in your head forever.”

The entirety of the lyrics are, “My name is Doof, and you’ll do what I say. Whoop! Whoop!” repeated over and over. The music is reminiscent of something like Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” or “Cars” by Gary Numan. It’s delightfully bizarre and, as promised, will likely be stuck in your head for a while after listening to it. Want to get it out of your head? Just solve the problem as the characters in the show do. Go listen to “Gitchee Gitchee Goo.”  

(2) Phineas and Ferb – My Name is Doof – YouTube

Happy Evil Love Song

Sheena Easton rocketed to fame in the 1980s with the release of her song “Modern Girl” and her appearance on the British reality tv show The Big Time. But it was the release of her follow-up single, “9 to 5” that cemented her fame. By 1982, she would go on to win a Grammy Award for “Best New Artist” and earn both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her song “For Your Eyes Only” from the James Bond movie of the same name. 

As it turns out, she’s also Heinz Doofenshmirtz’s ex-girlfriend. Well, sort of. She appears in the season two episode “Chez Platypus” as a character who goes on a date with Doof. The two end up bonding over their love of evil and sing a duet together. That song is “Happy Evil Love Song.” 

Featuring Doofenshmirtz on the ukulele, the duet is a sweet, singable love song. Think “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat, but with more robot armies and maniacal laughter. Sadly for Doof, the romance doesn’t pan out.

Curiously, it’s not Easton’s only vocal performance on Phineas and Ferb. She also performs the song “When Will He Call Me” from the episode “Backyard Aquarium.” 

Happy Evil Love Song | Music Video | Phineas and Ferb | Disney XD – Bing video

Backyard Beach

“Backyard Beach” is another classic music moment from the series, and like “Gitchee Gitchee Goo” it appears very early in the show’s run. The episode in question is titled “Lawn Gnome Beach Party of Terror” and it was the second broadcast episode of Phineas and Ferb.

A blend of reggae, dancehall, and hip-hop, it’s the sort of song that took its songwriters a bit out of their comfort zone. That sort of experimentation was a major source of joy while working on the series according to co-creator Dan Povenmire. He stated, “As songwriters, Swampy and I have been able to do things in styles we would never have done in the bands we used to play in.  We wrote an Abba tune, we wrote a 16th century Madrigal, we’ve done Broadway show tunes, we wrote current pop, rap, gansta rap, a Justin Timberlake song.”

In terms of comparable songs, “Backyard Beach” falls in line with songs by artists like Shaggy or Sean Paul, leaning heavily into Jamaican influence, as well as that of hip-hop (which itself was impacted by reggae. After all, DJ Kool Herc, one of hip hop’s pioneers, was born in Kingston, Jamaica).   

(2) Backyard Beach 🎶 | Phineas and Ferb | Disney XD – YouTube

Summer Belongs to You

We mentioned in the first article of this series that “Today is Gonna Be a Great Day” encapsulates the philosophy of Phineas and Ferb. The same could be said of “Summer Belongs to You” from the special episode “Phineas and Ferb: Summer Belongs to You.” It celebrates the endless possibilities available when the world is confronted with imagination and a sense of wonder. 

The song opens with a blaring horn section that would do the E Street Band proud. It’s more of an ensemble piece than most of the songs on the show, with multiple characters performing, which makes it sound like the climax of a Broadway musical. In fact, there are elements of it that remind me of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray.

It’s a perfect piece that is like a warm ray of sunshine. And I’ll bet you can’t listen to it without dancing.

(2) Summer Belongs To You 🎶 | Phineas and Ferb | Disney XD – YouTube

Celebrating the Music of Phineas and Ferb Part 1

On January 13, Dan Povenmire (co-creator of Phineas and Ferb) took to TikTok to announce that a reboot of the beloved cartoon was in the works. The news was received with wild excitement by fans around the world (including a Disney blogger who shall remain unnamed but may have done a happy dance believing no one was looking, but it turned out people were looking and…you know what, nevermind). 

Music always played an enormous role in the original show, with a different song in each episode. According to Povenmire, it’s a tradition that dates back to their days working on the cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life. Speaking to Animation World Network, he stated, “When we were writing Rocko, we always had one of two things, sometimes both: usually a song or a musical number, plus a big action/chase scene. Phineas and Ferb gave us a chance to write a song for every single episode, starting with the second episode, Flop Starz.”

“We both want to be rock-and-rollers anyway — Dan’s had a band for years, and I was in one once,” co-creator Jeff “Swampy” Marsh added.

In another interview, Povenmire said, “We get to do all these types of things.  It really just keeps it fun and fresh for us, because it’s easy to write melodies and chords in your wheelhouse; the place where you write the easiest.  I can just push out rhythm and blues songs all day because that’s how my brain works.”

Marsh’s grandfather was Les Brown, the composer of “Sentimental Journey.” That classic jazz background fed his contributions to the show.

“All of that big band, jazz, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin stuff, that’s what I grew up with.  So, I can do that relatively easily, but playing around with a rap song, that’s fun and a challenge,” Marsh said.

While details on the reboot are still scarce, it’s safe to assume that music will continue to be a major part of the show. As of yet, we don’t have a release date for the new version, but there will be around 40 episodes and two full seasons. While we wait to learn more, let’s take a look back at some of Phineas and Ferb’s greatest songs.

Today is Gonna Be a Great Day

We couldn’t possibly make a list like this without including “Today is Gonna Be a Great Day.” It’s the show’s theme song, and sums up the philosophy of the show:

This could possibly be the best day ever!

(This could possibly be the best day ever!)

And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better

So make every minute count, jump up, jump in, and seize the day

And let’s make sure that in every single possible way

Today is gonna be a great day!

The song is sung by pop punk favorites Bowling for Soup, and was nominated for the 2008 Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.

Bowling For Soup – Today is Gonna be a Great Day (From “Phineas and Ferb”) – YouTube

I’m Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun

The 1980s were a banner year for music, neon, and hairspray. Think about it. Madonna. Cyndi Lauper. Tiffany. Debbie Gibson. And then there’s Lindana. Real name Linda-Flynn Fletcher, the mother of Phineas and Ferb. We see Lindana in the episodes “Flop Starz” and “Ladies and Gentleman, Meet Max Modem!” 

A one-hit wonder, she was known for the song “I’m Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun” which was released by Huge-O-Records. While Caroline Rhea performs the role Linda, Olivia Olson (the voice of Vanessa in the cartoon) provides Lindana’s singing voice. 

Phineas and Ferb – I’m Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun! Extended Lyrics – YouTube

S.I.M.P (Squirrels in My Pants)

In the fall of 2022, a new trend began sweeping TikTok. An article on ScreenRant noted, “Many older teens and young adults will be familiar with Phineas and Ferb and may remember the episode when Candace accidentally joined a rap group after squirrels jumped inside her pants. Yes, that musical number has become a trending sound on TikTok, complete with its own meme. The trend needs at least two people. Participant A will stand close to the camera with their hands clasped together as if something were trapped inside. When the song says, “Now somebody, anybody, everybody scream,” The individual will lift their hands to reveal Participant B. Participant B will jump up and scream, lip-syncing, “There’s squirrels in my pants!” 

Even superstars like Lizzo, Jimmy Fallon, and Mike “The Miz” Mizanin got in on the trend. 

The song appears in the episode “Comet Kermillian” and is performed by the character of Candace (Ashley Tisdale) and a rap group known as 2 Guyz in the Parque (voiced by Phil LaMarr and Robbie Wyckoff).

S.I.M.P. (Squirrels in My Pants) (From “Phineas and Ferb”/Sing-Along) – YouTube

There’s a Platypus Controlling Me

Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz is one of the most beloved characters in Phineas and Ferb. The hapless scientist is ostensibly meant to be a villain, but he’s simply incapable of coming up with an evil plan that works. On top of that, he’s the primary antagonist of the character Perry the Platypus, but the two aren’t really enemies. More like frenemies. Perry always thwarts Doof’s evil plans, but is happy to lend a helping hand with his other ventures.

Dan Povenmire provides the voice of Doofenshmirtz, and it’s a special treat anytime he gets to sing. One of the most memorable occasions takes place in the episode “Brain Drain” and features Doof rapping the song “There’s a Platypus Controlling Me.” The result is, as I’ve been told the young people say, a bop.

There’s a Platypus Controlling Me | Music Video | Phineas and Ferb | @disneyxd – YouTube


While essentially all of the songs featured in Phineas and Ferb are catchy, they can also occasionally be profoundly weird. And I mean that in the best way. Take “Whalemingo” which appears in the episode “When Worlds Collide.” Performed by the character Buford (voiced by Bobby Gaylor), the song is a ballad by way of 1960s psychedelia. Which I suppose is only appropriate for a number about a half whale, half flamingo extra terrestrial that likes strawberry cream. I’d say more but…what else do you really need?

Phineas and Ferb – Whalemingo Song – Official Disney XD UK HD – YouTube

Coming Soon: The Aristocats

In January 2022, Disney announced that a live-action remake of the classic animated film “The Aristocats” was in the works. It’s one in a string of Disney films that have reimagined classics in a live-action or live-action/animation hybrid format, including titles like Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, and Pinnochio.

In late March 2023, the company further announced that the new iteration of The Aristocats would be directed by Academy Award-winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. It will be Questlove’s feature film debut, on a project which also sees him overseeing the roles of executive producer and music director. 

In 2021, Questlove released the documentary film Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which told the story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. The movie included performances of legendary performers like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Mavis Staples, Sly and the Family Stone, Hugh Masekela, the Fifth Dimension, and many others. It would go on to win the award for Best Documentary Feature at the 94th Academy Awards. 

The script for the new incarnation of The Aristocats is written by Will Gluck and Keith Bunin. 

The Aristocats

Disney’s original, animated version of The Aristocats was released in 1970, and featured performances by the likes of Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway, and Scatman Crothers. The music for the film, one of its most notable features, was provided by a mix of composers, including the Sherman Brothers. It would mark the last Disney feature the pair would work on until returning for The Tigger Movie in the year 2000. 

It was a somewhat inauspicious ending, as the duo wrote a number of songs for the film, but only two made the final cut. Songs like “Pourquoi,” “She Never Felt Alone,” “My Way’s the Highway” and “Le Jazz Hot” were all ultimately discarded. Only the title track, “The Aristocats” and “Scales and Arpeggios” would be included in the final version.

However, the song “The Aristocats” became notable, not simply for the typical charm and sing-ability of the typical Sherman Bros. number, but because it was performed by French singing and acting legend Maurice Chevalier. While composing the song, Richard Sherman recorded a demo doing his best interpretation of Chevailier’s voice, which was then sent to the actor. Producer Bill Anderson approached him about participating in the film, despite the fact that he’d officially retired from performing in 1968. Fortunately, he agreed and the song would become his final contribution to the industry, capping a career that spanned 70 years.

The number “My Way’s the Highway” was meant to be sung by Thomas O’Malley, voiced by Disney regular Phil Harris. Instead, folksinger and songwriter Terry Gilkyson was asked to compose a number for the character, and came up with the aptly titled “Thomas O’Malley Cat.” It wasn’t Gilkyson’s first project with Disney, having written “Bare Necessities” for The Jungle Book, “My Heart was an Island” for The Swiss Family Robinson and several others.

The movie’s defining piece of music, “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat,” was composed by Floyd Huddleston and Al Rinker. It replaced the Sherman’s “Le Jazz Hot.” However, fans of Disney’s prolific songwriters can still hear the piece on the album “The Lost Chords: The Aristocats.” The track alternates between a simple, melodic tune in a major key that almost smacks of Rodgers and Hammerstein, to a slinky jazz blues with tints of Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” 

While it’s a catchy tune, it doesn’t quite capture the exuberant brilliance of Huddleston and Rinker’s “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat.” Phil Harris, Thurl Ravenscroft, Robie Lester, and Liz English performed on the number. But it was the cool, raspy voice of Scatman Crothers that truly gave the song its heart and soul. 

Born Benjamin Sherman Crothers in 1910, Scatman taught himself to play the guitar and drums. He began performing publicly as a teenager and gained experience playing at the speakeasies in Terra Haute, Indiana. The name “Scatman” was a moniker he adopted after a station manager suggested he needed a name that people would remember. 

By the 1940s, he’d moved to California and began performing across the United States, releasing a number of singles and eventually going on tour with Bob Hope and the USO. 

In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. His character is even named Scat Cat. But for a time, he was not the voice Disney intended for the role. While casting the film, the company originally pursued the one and only Louis Armstrong. However, due to illness, he was unable to perform the part.

While it’s fun to contemplate the great Satchmo voicing a Disney character, Scatman remains a perfect casting choice and the voice that elevates “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” to the next level.

The score for the film was composed by George Bruns. At this point in his career, he’d already supplied scores for Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword and the Stone, The Jungle Book, and more. An article on the Disney Archive notes that on The Aristocats, “Bruns featured the accordion-like musette for French flavor, and drawing on his considerable background with jazz bands in the 1940s, provided a great deal of jazz music.”

The Soulquarians and Beyond

While little is known about Questlove’s plans for the remake of The Aristocats, it is safe to assume that the music will be remarkable. A six-time Grammy Award winner, he is one of the founding members of the iconic and groundbreaking hip-hop group The Roots. With over 30 years together, the group, which LiveAbout once referred to as “hip hop’s first legitimate band,” have released 16 albums, including the award-winning classics “Things Fall Apart” and “Phrenology.” 

In addition to his work with The Roots, Questlove has worked as a producer on numerous albums, including D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Common’s Like Water for Chocolate, and Jay-Z’s Jay-Z: Unplugged. He was also a member of the Soulquarians, a collective of Black music artists that included figures like Erykah Badu, Bilal, Q-Tip, Talib Kwelli, and J Dilla. 

Since 2009, Questlove and The Roots have been the house band for Jimmy Fallon, first on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and then on The Tonight Show.

Speaking about his decision to work on The Aristocats, Questlove stated, “During those first months of the pandemic back in 2020, I allowed my inner 9-year-old to have a voice he wouldn’ta had back in 1980. I made space for myself every day to enjoy an hour or two of fun. (Eventually, it turned into more work: books, nightly DJ sets, films. But it started as fun.) What grew out of that, in part, was nightly viewings of old Disney classics from my childhood. The Aristocats was one of them. Having been involved in Soul that year, I was able to see so-called kids’ art with new eyes, was able to connect with a certain feeling. I don’t think I would have been fully able to find inspiration in those movies if I wasn’t forced by circumstance to sit silent. I needed that pause. (Also, full confession, The Aristocats was how my mom made jazz seem interesting to me back then.) There’s nothing more rewarding than continuing down that same creative path, taking a part of my past and making it part of my future.”

No official release date has been set for the film, with estimates ranging between 2024 and 2025. 

5 Classic Songs from the Disney Parks

I’ve got something shocking to share. A lot of us Disney fanatics? We’re also pretty prone to nostalgia. Folks who ask about our favorite Disney memories are inevitably treated to an endless, rambling narrative worthy of Abe Simpson. Heaven help anyone who asks us about attractions from bygone days.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little story about some of the great, old songs that used to play at some of Disney’s greatest attractions. You may want to get comfortable. This could take a while…

Listen to the Land

Before it was known as “Living with the Land,” the beloved Epcot attraction was known as “Listen to the Land.” In all of the fundamentals, it was the same experience, but there were some notable differences, such as the “Symphony of the Seed” segment that used to be at the beginning.

The attraction also had a foot tappin’ theme song, composed and performed by Bob Moline. A singer and songwriter, Moline joined the company in the 1970s, after Disneyland’s director of marketing heard him performing at a restaurant called The Wine Cellar. 

In addition to the song “Listen to the Land,” Moline wrote many other pieces for Epcot. In fact, according to a D23 tribute, on one occasion, “Bob, Sheri, and his children, Justin and Jennifer, arrived at the gates clad in custom red shirts emblazoned with the words “Visiting Epcot to hear Daddy’s songs.”

His lyrics for “Listen to the Land” perfectly captured the spirit of the attraction. Here’s just a small sample:

Let’s listen to the land we all love,

nature’s plan will shine above,

listen to the land, listen to the land.

Makin’ Memories

Making memories, making memories

Taking pictures is making memories

Catching little pieces of time

Making them yours, and making them mine

Once upon a time, cameras used to rely on this finicky little product called film. You’d load a roll of film into your camera (for our purposes let’s say it’s a Kodak, not a Nikon) and then snap away. When the roll was full, you’d pop the film out, put it in a little canister, and take it to be developed. Presuming you hadn’t accidentally exposed your film while using it, you should have pictures in a few days (unless you had a local one-hour photo place). That’s right. In those days, we lived like savages.

In 1982, Epcot opened at Walt Disney World. But in THOSE DAYS it was known as Epcot Center. One of the opening day attractions at the new park was Magic Journeys, which was sponsored by Kodak. While it’s not as common now, most of the attractions had corporate sponsorships.

While the attraction itself was a film that let Guests see the world through the eyes of a child, the preshow featured a song devoted to the art of taking photos. It was called “Makin’ Memories” and was penned by Robert and Richard Sherman. In typical Sherman Bros. fashion, the song was an irresistible earworm, and it sounded as though it had been composed on Tin Pan Alley. 

Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit

Epcot has always been educational, but in the past, it was a bit more explicit about its mission, with attractions like Body Wars, Horizons, and Universe of Energy. Kitchen Kabaret was another, featuring singing produce, a wise-cracking egg, and The Cereal Sisters—Mairzy Oats, Rennie Rice, and Connie Corn, to name just a few. A mix of musical review and comedy, the audio-animatronics in the show taught Guests about the four food groups and the importance of a balanced diet.

The unquestioned highlight of the attraction was an uptempo number infused with Latin rhythms called “Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit,” performed by Bonnie Appetite, The Collander Combo, and Fiesta Fruit. The legendary Buddy Baker (who wrote music for films like The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Shaggy D.A., The Fox and the Hound, and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates) composed the music, while Scott Hennessy provided the lyrics. Here’s just a small sample of the lyrics:

There are no substitutes for we.

Veggie fruit fruit. Veggie veggie fruit fruit.

You see (can’t you see) a balanced meal always wins with our vitamins, A and C.

But honestly, you can’t get the true experience without hearing the song. Even better? Hearing it while watching mechanical fruit sing it. Thank goodness for YouTube. Just a quick search and you can be transported back to Kitchen Kabaret heaven. 

Miracles from Molecules

In the modern world, with our organic and local farm-to-table sensibilities, the idea of celebrating agrochemical giant Monsanto seems unthinkable. I mean…they manufactured DDT, Agent Orange, and recombinant bovine growth hormone. And yet…for a decade they sponsored the Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction in Disneyland. This was, after all, the same era that gave us DuPont’s “Better Living Through Chemistry” slogan. 

The attraction featured Guests being “shrunk” to a sub-atomic size by the Mighty Monsanto Microscope. They then went on a tour of the microscopic world, encountering snowflakes, water molecules, and more. The experience was bookended by the song “Miracles from Molecules,” which was once again penned by the Sherman Brothers. It was both a celebration of scientific achievement and a bit of marketing propaganda for the Monsanto company mission statement. Consider:

Miracles from molecules,

Around us everywhere.

There are miracles from molecules,

In the Earth, the sea, the air.

Now men with dreams are furthering,

What nature first began,

Making modern miracles,

From molecules, for man…

Setting aside the sponsorship weirdness, I can happily report that Donald Duck once performed the song in the episode of Mickey Mouse titled “Down the Hatch.” 

Hello Everybody

Hindsight being 20/20, perhaps I should have opened the article with this song. Oh well, live and learn.

The Golden Horseshoe Saloon was an opening day attraction, but the Golden Horseshoe Revue (the stage show that took place inside the restaurant) actually opened four days before the park opened. That’s because Walt and Lillian Disney celebrated their 30th anniversary there, and the cast put on the show for their benefit.

Starring Betty Taylor, Wally Boag, and Donald Novis (later replaced by Fulton Burley) the Golden Horseshoe Revue was a blend of music and comedy that ran for decades, eventually earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most performed musical of all time with 39,000 performance under the cast’s collective belt. 

While the song “Pecos Bill” represented the climax of the show, it was “Hello Everybody” that welcomed Guests and set the genial atmosphere for everything that followed. The music was written by Charles LaVere, a jazz pianist who famously performed on the song “Maybe You’ll Be There” with Gordon Jenkins. The lyrics were provided by Tom Adair, who also wrote popular hits like “Violets for Your Furs,” and wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Along Fifth Avenue.

Betty Taylor and Donald Novis performed the song, whose lyrics will make a perfect ending to this week’s blog post.

Hello everybody we’re mighty glad to meet you

Here at the Golden Horseshoe

Hello everybody we’re mighty glad to greet you

Here at the Golden Horseshoe

If you are a stranger, just say “Howdy Stranger,”

We will soon be friends that way

The Welcome Mat is out today

At the Golden Horseshoe Cafe 

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.