Musical Magic: Underrated Disney Songs

underrated disney songs

What comes to mind when thinking of Disney films more than music? While not all of their movies feature songs, no one can deny how much pop culture associates the two. Critics and audiences praise this music, and so many Disney songs have won awards. Classics such as “Part of Your World” and “When You Wish Upon a Star” get performed regularly. But what about the songs many overlook? Indeed, the catalog has an abundance of underrated Disney songs that deserve more recognition.

1. “Candle on The Water”- Pete’s Dragon (1977)

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Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

Amongst Disney fans, Pete’s Dragon inspires divisive opinions. Only diehard fans know the music. “Candle on the Water” represents the film’s loveliest and most iconic song. Sung by Helen Reddy, the lyrics declare a steadfast love and devotion that will “always burn.” Reddy’s rendition soars. But Sarah Morgann sings another beautiful version. This lovely, delicate song soothes the soul.

2. “Why Should I Worry”- Oliver & Company (1988)

oliver and company
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Billy Joel lends his musical genius to this Oliver & Company song. The dog Dodger sings the upbeat and fun “Why Should I Worry” to the orphan kitten Oliver, telling him about his laidback attitude on life. The positive message affirms, “Why should I worry?/Why should I care?/I may not have a dime/but I’ve got street savior faire.” Joel’s vocals, the New York theme, and the lively tempo give the song a terrific flair.

3. “So Close”- Enchanted (2007)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The songs from Enchanted delight viewers and serve a narrative purpose. As Giselle becomes more human, the songs shift. With “So Close,” the music leaves her voice and now resides elsewhere- in this case with talented vocalist Jon McLaughlin. 

Written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, this glorious song that Giselle and Robert dance to features melancholy and relatable lyrics about love and a happily ever after just out of reach. The meaningful words and a lovely dance make this one of the most romantic Disney songs and moments ever.

4. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”- Carousel of Progress (1964)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The legendary Sherman Brothers wrote “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” for the attraction The Carrousel of Progress. This rotating show with animatronics showcases technological progress throughout the years. The lyrics reflect the ingenuity, determination, and positive thinking that go hand-in-hand with innovation. But even out of context, the song inspires listeners to remember, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away.”

5. “If I Never Knew You”- Pocahontas (1995)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

In the theatrical version of Pocahontas, “If I Never Knew You” plays during the end credits. Jon Secada and Shanice sing this powerful and mature love song about two people who don’t get a happily ever after but do not regret loving each other. This pop song gives the film’s end the appropriate feel: melancholy and resigned. A DVD release inserts a deleted version of the song into the film. In the scene, Pocahontas and John Smith sing to each other on the eve of his impending death. Both versions give us chills.

6. “On The Front Porch”- Summer Magic (1963)

summer magic
Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

Summer Magic tells the sweet story of a family moving to a small town during the early 1900s. The delightful songs written by The Sherman Brothers rarely receive their due praise, especially the film’s finest song, “On The Front Porch.” 

In this scene, the Carey family and their new friends enjoy a balmy summer evening, singing along to this tune. Led by Ossian Poppam (Burl Ives), the song’s simple instrumentation and romantic lyrics make audiences long for a bygone era of simple pleasures. Who wouldn't love to linger on the front porch, watch the fireflies, and hold hands with a sweetheart?

7. “Something That I Want”- Tangled (2010)

tangled
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

When thinking of the songs from Tangled, fans typically mention “I See The Light,” “Mother Knows Best,” and “When Will My Life Begin.” Viewers rarely say “Something That I Want,” the Grace Potter song we hear over the end titles. This oft-forgotten tune deserves much more love. Sunny and upbeat, the lyrics reflect the preceding story, and the musicality is just plain fun. 

8. “Try Everything”- Zootopia (2016)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Zootopia’s energetic theme, “Try Everything,” makes audiences want to get up and dance to the fantastic beat. But when listening to the lyrics, they hear profound lessons about having dreams and never giving up. With Shakira’s exceptional vocal stylings, “Try Everything” gives the already lively, thoughtful film a boost of fun, enthusiasm, and positivity.

9. “Touch The Sky”- Brave (2012)

brave
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Pixar’s Brave has a bit of an identity crisis. Audiences generally associate princess movies with Walt Disney Animation Studios and not Pixar. That may explain why fans often overlook Brave and, in turn, the fantastic song “Touch the Sky.” Singer Julie Fowlis’ lilting voice and the instrumentation add to the Celtic and Scottish sound. At the same time, the lyrics give the tune an uplifting and pretty feel. Though underrated, Disney Parks shows the song some love by including it in many nighttime shows.

10. “God Help The Outcasts”- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

hunchback of notre dame
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Not many songs have lyrics as profound as “God Help the Outcasts.” In this serene, poignant moment, the gypsy Esmeralda sings, “God help the outcasts/hungry from birth./Show them the mercy/they don’t find on Earth.” In her prayer, she asks for nothing for herself but to help the downtrodden. The profundity of the lyrics matches the scene’s gorgeous animation, especially the church’s stained glass windows. 

11. “Love”- Robin Hood (1973)

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Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

Much like the film, “Love” rarely ends up on Disney favorites lists. But this sweet interlude between Robin Hood and Maid Marian has a soft and enchanting feel that matches the moment on screen. It sounds like a 1970s song rather than a medieval one. Still, Robin Hood mixes the modern and classic, so that’s irrelevant. Fans should listen to “Love” much more often.

12. “The Monkey’s Uncle”- The Monkey’s Uncle (1965)

the monkeys uncle
Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

A lesser-known film, no one would call The Monkey’s Uncle a classic like Mary Poppins. But audiences should remember the title song. Annette Funicello and The Beach Boys sing this lively tune, rich with that particular 1960s sound. Silly but fun, the vocals and uptempo beat make “The Monkey’s Uncle” a nostalgic gem.

13. “The Second Star to The Right”- Peter Pan (1953)

peter pan
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

Peter Pan’s iconic song “You Can Fly” usually overshadows the music heard during the opening credits. “The Second Star to the Right” may not be as seminal nor soar quite like the other. However, the song does fly, but softly and gently. The Judd Conlon Chorus’s lovely harmonies and lyrical beauty create an enchanting piece.

14. “Little April Shower”- Bambi (1942)

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Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

Bambi’s pretty song accompanying a rainstorm feels as wondrous as nature itself. “Little April Shower” sounds like its subject matter- soft raindrops, thunder, lightning, and wind. Moreover, lyrics like “drip, drip, drop little April shower/beating a tune as you fall all around” and “how I love to hear your patter/pretty little pitter-patter” further showcase the song’s loveliness and genius.

15. “Show Yourself”- Frozen II (2019)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Elsa’s show-stopping numbers “Let It Go” and “Into the Unknown” often overshadow “Show Yourself.” But this song’s melody, vocals, and message deliver even more power and profound meaning. Elsa’s journey of self-discovery reaches the pinnacle with “Show Yourself.” Though underrated, those who relate to or sympathize with her character see its true beauty.

16. “Hawaiian Roller Coaster”- Lilo & Stitch (2002)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

“Hawaiian Roller Coaster” sounds like a traditional Polynesian tune at a luau or celebration. It also mirrors the juxtaposed adrenaline rush and peaceful serenity surfers feel when riding the waves. This song will put a smile on anyone’s face.

17. “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”- Mary Poppins (1964)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Productions.

With an astounding number of beloved and iconic songs such as “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” other songs will fall by the wayside in people’s minds. But the film’s final song flies as high as a kite, for lack of a better phrase. 

The moment presents a culmination for the Banks family, with the father, George, remembering what’s most important in life: his family. Out of context, viewers can take the lyrics literally, suggesting they'd enjoy a day of flying kites. But the words can also work as a metaphor for seizing the day.

18. “Casey Jr.”- Dumbo (1941)

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Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

With a catchy melody and clever lyrics, “Casey Jr.” perfectly reflects the fun and whimsy of this cute little train and the circus. The song says, “Here him puffin’/comin’ found the hill./Casey’s here to thrill/every Jack and Jill./Every time his funny little whistle sounds/everybody hurries to circus grounds.” It can’t get much cuter than that! Though fans hear this delightful, smile-inducing song in Dumbo and on the Casey Jr. Train in Disney Parks, fans still overlook it.

19. “Zero to Hero”- Hercules (1997)

hercules
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Though the love for Hercules has grown over the years, the music still lacks proper recognition. Of all the songs, the fast-paced and gospel-infused showstopper astonishes viewers with lyrics like, “Is he bold/No one braver./Is he sweet/our favorite flavor.” The clever wordplay, high energy, and incredible vocals of Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, and Vanéese Y. Thomas elevate the song to a higher plane.

20. “In Harmony”- The Little Mermaid: The Animated Series”- (1992-1994)

the little mermaid series
Image Credit: Walt Disney Television Animation.

The beauty of inclusivity and living in harmony with every living creature finds a beautiful voice in this song from The Little Mermaid animated series. Ariel brings everyone together, singing about how we each have special qualities that make us unique, using music and friendship as a uniting force. The song says, “You’re you/I’m me./Together, we can live in harmony.” The lovely message and catchy melody create a unique and engaging song.

21. “One Jump Ahead”- Aladdin (1992)

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Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Disney fans revere Aladdin’s music, but the praise typically goes to “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.” Even “Prince Ali” gets heaps of recognition due to Robin Williams’ tongue-twisting vocals. On the other hand, “One Jump Ahead” never gets the attention it should. The song establishes Aladdin’s character in only a few minutes, with spirit, excitement, and incredible orchestration.

22. “La la Lu”- Lady and The Tramp (1955)

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Image Credit: Buena Vista Film Distribution.

Dumbo’s “Baby Mine” usually springs to mind when thinking about Disney lullabies. But “La La Lu” from Lady and the Tramp deserves recognition, too. Peggy Lee’s gentle voice and tender lyrics liken her precious baby to an angel sweeping the stars. Such sweet words as “Little wandering angel/fold up your wings/close your eyes./La La Lu/La La Lu/and may love be your keeper.” As soft as a cloud, everyone should add this song to a lullaby list.

23. “When Can I See You Again”- Wreck-It Ralph”- (2012)

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Some fans remember Wreck-It Ralph’s “When Can I See You Again” as the film’s high-energy theme song. Others hear the music and think of the Disney parade “Paint the Night.” Either way, this underrated, joyful tune reflects feelings of friendship and chasing dreams, no matter how lofty and out of reach they may seem.

24. “Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale”- Cinderella (1950)

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Image Credit: Disney.

The miraculous thing about Cinderella’s “Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale” comes from the simplicity of the lyrics. The song merely repeats one line repeatedly. No other lyrics exist- just Ilene Wood’s soothing voice, singing the words differently as hundreds of bubbles surround her. The song offers no narrative purpose. But that demonstrates its beauty. “Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale” allows the film to breathe for a few moments and gives us a moment of serenity.

Honorable Mention: “New Horizons” and “Listen to The Land”- EPCOT (1988)

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Image Credit: Disney+.

Walt Disney’s World’s EPCOT features many incredible songs written for various attractions. Visitors no longer hear them in the parks, but they still exist on a compilation album, while long-time fans fondly remember them. “New Horizons” features a children’s chorus, strong lead vocals, and lyrics about achieving dreams. The upbeat “Listen to the Land” inspires little dances and positive messages about loving and treating the Earth with the respect it deserves. 

Author: Marianne Paluso

Title: Writer

Expertise: Entertainment, Travel, Books

Bio:

Marianne Paluso is a freelance writer and artist and holds a Masters Degree in English and Children’s Literature from San Diego State University. Inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture and geek related, she especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She joined Wealth of Geeks in 2021, and has also contributed to The Nerd Machine, Catholic News Agency, Christianity Today, and The La Jolla Light. She writes on her own website TheGirlyNerd.com, creates art that is sold on Redbubble and Etsy, and also partakes in the occasional Disney bound, cosplay, and YouTube video. She resides in San Diego, California.