Hundreds of new Disney songs surfaced in the past few decades, many of them defining our childhood and young adult years. We listened to them on an endless loop via our cassettes and CDs. Many tunes, however, may have escaped our memories or even not entered our lives at all. The world of Disney music is vast in both scope and setting, ranging from our television screens and home video to the theme parks and on stage.
This first edition of a two-part feature on Disney In Depth explores the songs you may have missed or forgotten, but should very well revisit.
“If I Can’t Love Her” (Beauty and the Beast, stage musical)
Disney’s first major foray in translating one of its animated films to the stage, as part of Disney Theatrical, could not have been a more successful or lauded production. Beauty and the Beast premiered on Broadway in 1994 and played for more than a decade, and it has toured around the United States and abroad ever since. The Beast snatched his own heartbreaking tune in “If I Can’t Love Her.” It’s a powerful and majestic release for the grizzly man-turned-monster who seeks for this curse to be broken. Though perhaps not as overlooked as other songs on this list, compared to the other pieces from the musical, this one seems to never get its due attention. Sadly, it will not be featured in the forthcoming live-action feature. Thankfully, Josh Groban’s recent rendition has helped remind folks of the beauty in the Beast’s song.
Alan Menken plays and sings the Beast’s tune in this performance, captured by YouTube user mattb75018.
“Eating the Peach” (James and the Giant Peach)
Remember the stop-motion/live-action 1996 film that was as trippy as the book it was based on? If not, circle back to Henry Selick’s feature with Randy Newman’s ragtime jazz ditties. One of them is this romp, which includes the talents of Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, and even Susan Sarandon, who all voice the eccentric insects that inhabit the magical piece of fruit. Roald Dahl himself could have crafted the wacky lyrics, which range from “A plate of soil with engine oil’s a super recipe” and “I’ve eaten many strange and scrumptious dishes in my time, like jellied bugs and curried slugs and earwigs cooked in slime.” It’s a wild and pulsating song that is both easy to digest and fantastic fun.
“There’s a Party Here in Agrabah” (Aladdin and the King of Thieves)
As hard it may to believe, there once was a time when direct-to-video films did not exist. Aladdin and the King of Thieves was only Disney’s second major effort in this realm, and what a triumph it was. It brought Robin Williams back to the Genie fold and included an array of songs. Though none of the pieces are nearly as memorable as “A Whole New World” and company, many from this third entry in the Aladdin films are similarly entertaining. The opening number is pompous and silly, beckoning all of the Agrabah citizens to attend the royal couple’s wedding. Genie morphs into several characters along the way, including journalist Walter Cronkite, and various other characters chime in, too. Save for the main line of “there’s a party here in Agrabah,” the tune is not the most catchy, but it’s still extremely satisfying and sensational.
“Dream Our Dream” (Light Magic at Disneyland)
Disney’s ill-fated street show opened in light of the closing of the Main Street Electrical Parade. The high production costs and technical problems may have accounted for the show’s quick demise, but the Celtic-inspired character carnival was every bit as extravagant as anything Disney had done to date. Its original number, the generically named “Dream Our Dream,” captured the essence of the parade. The song has an inspirational tone, much in the vein of other nighttime spectaculars at the parks, but stands out for its unique orchestration and placement in such a divisive Disney project. Its repetitive tone also lent it to being an earworm, even years after its departure.
The video below by Paul Salminen features one of its performances.
“Love Will Find a Way” (The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride)
Perhaps one of the most anticipated Disney film of the 1990s was the direct-to-video sequel to the studio’s biggest hit of the decade. Though it failed to capture the same grandness as the original, Simba’s Pride had its share of touching musical moments. One that takes the prize, but may have been forgotten for those who have not watched the film in years, is a duet between lovestruck lions Kiara and Kovu. Sure, it’s no “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” yet it chronicles the challenges of making relationships work when hurdles are placed in front of you.
The rendition below by YouTube channel stars DTwinz delightfully covers Kovu and Kiara’s duet.
“Someone Like Me” (Doug’s 1st Movie and Doug Live at Disney-MGM Studios)
This song almost kills two birds with one stone, as it premiered almost simultaneously in 1999 in both the theatrical feature Doug’s 1st Movie – based on the animated series – and at Disney-MGM Studios in its live production of the Jim Jenkins characters. As Doug’s title tune, the sensitive and charismatic pre-teen belts out his adoration of Patti Mayonnaise in this understated song. Doug purists may not consider the Disney version of the character to have the same quality as Nickelodeon’s original show, but few could argue that this brief and lovely little tune lacks heart.
“Your Heart Will Lead You Home” (The Tigger Movie)
The Sherman Brothers returned to compose new Winnie the Pooh songs after many years for 2000’s sweet The Tigger Movie, which follows the terrific tiger searching for his true family. Kenny Loggins’ “Your Heart Will Lead You Home” is a contemporary piece that comes across as both sentimental and inspirational. His comforting vocal performance fares quite appropriately for the family friendly tune, which even includes a youth chorus. I think it’s safe to say that the bouncing 100 Acre Wood goofball would find this most tiggerfic!
“Enchantment Passing Through” (Aida)
Adam Pascal and Heather Headley knocked it out of the park in the original cast for Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical production of Aida, which dove into more adult territory for Disney Theatrical. Though the show has toured both domestically and internationally in the past decade, and some high schools even put on their own version, some may have never heard of Aida. This love song that shows the conflict among the principal characters is a showcase for Pascal and Headley, who each have incredible range and tone. It’s a breathtaking extravaganza that seamlessly blends pop and rock.
One Day She’ll Love Me (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Perhaps the most unfamiliar song on the list is this piece by Sting, featuring both himself and country folk star Shawn Colvin, from The Emperor’s New Groove. You may wonder, “I don’t recall this whatsoever.” That’s because this love song was cut from the movie, which ultimately experienced many plot changes during its production. Yet it was thankfully retained in the final soundtrack, which also included the likes of Eartha Kitt’s bombastic “Snuff Out The Light” song for Yzma. Sting’s smooth jazz piece feels epic and expressive, much in line with his typical work.
“Just One Dream” (Golden Dreams at Disney California Adventure)
If you never stopped by the Golden Dreams show at Disneyland’s sister park, you don’t know what you were missing. The film, which played at Disney California Adventure for nearly eight years, told the grand history of the state and the people who inhabited the land of dreams. Written by Walter Afanasieff, Oscar-winning producer of “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic, “Just One Dream” causes you to feel uplifted with its soaring melody and lyrics. It closed the film with a montage of famous dreamers that came to California, or made a major difference while living there. “Just One Dream” was originally sung by Headley in the film, but it has been used in many Disney contexts, including at the D23 Expo, when Lisa Donahey delivered a soulful performance.
Check it out below in this video by YouTube user GoofyFan4ever.
Check back to Disney In Depth next month for the next set of overlooked songs.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, released on the first and third Thursdays of each month on Geeks of Doom.