More Disney songs, specifically from the past 15 years, more or less, are most upsettingly forgotten in light of a few breakout pieces. “Let it go,” I tell myself, tongue in cheek. There are memorable songs beyond the realm of Frozen, Tangled, and Moana.
In this Disney In Depth I follow-up part one of my list of overlooked Disney songs with ten more that deserve multiple listens – and downloads, too, should they be accessible.
“Ludwig Von Drake Song” (House of Mouse TV series)
The animated series that featured every Disney character you could imagine attending Mickey Mouse’s nightclub was a favorite of mine growing up. For good reason. Not only did it feature tons of Disney cartoons, but also it showed the likes of Pumbaa interacting with Donald. Ludwig Von Drake, such a sharp and snarky personality that is anything but a quack, received a new song in which he mentions all of the Disney toons in the house and where they are seated. What a feat that Ludwig follows through on, with rhymes no less. If you’ve always wanted a song where Scar and Jafar are mentioned in the same breath, here’s your tune!
“I’ll Try” (Return to Never Land)
Jane, Wendy’s daughter, is coming of age in London during World War II and struggles to overcome this time of terror. Singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke reveals Jane’s feelings, much in line with what Phil Collins accomplished with Tarzan. The character does not sing, but rather the unseen performer’s lyrics offer context to the character’s doubts and emotions. “There is no such thing as faith, and trust, and pixie dust,” she laments. The listeners, though, have faith in Brooke’s ability to win us over with her rich and soothing vocals.
“An Ordinary Miracle” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame II)
Compared to almost every element of the original film, the sequel to The Hunchback of Notre Dame falls short. Its animation pales, as does the complexity of the characters. One blessing is Tom Hulce singing a new song for Quasimodo, titled “An Ordinary Miracle,” which centers on the little wonders that mark our daily lives and lift our spirits. Falling in love goes under that category, as Quasi so beautifully expresses. We are under the song’s spell, too. Listen for yourself.
“Always Know Where You Are” (Treasure Planet)
I am always disappointed that few have experienced the thrills and amazement of this overlooked Disney animated film. For those of you who remember this John Rzenik-written piece from the closing credits and like it, I give you a high-five. Interestingly, the pop rock song features Rzeznik’s vocals in the film, but British boy band BBMak sung it for the soundtrack. Whichever version you listen to, you will be rewarded with its encouraging message and steady beat.
“To Be Free” (Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney California Adventure)
Oh, the desire to have freedom beyond the confines of palace walls. Such are the dreams of Princess Jasmine, whose tune in the Disney California Adventure version of Aladdin came across as novel upon its premiere, for it was the only original number. “To Be Free” is rather simple and understated in its approach, much like grounded Jasmine herself. Though the song was not retained when the show was translated to Broadway, at least it still plays on the Disney Fantasy aboard Disney Cruise Line.
Courtney Reed, who plays Jasmine in the Broadway stage production, delivers her solo song in this video below from YouTube user Benjamin Rauhala.
“On My Way” (Brother Bear)
Phil Collins may not have earned another Oscar after “You’ll Be in My Heart” for Tarzan, but he sure tried with his assortment of comforting tunes for Brother Bear. This overlooked piece, which was featured in the middle of the film, is fairly straightforward in its title. It centers on the paths that individuals (or animals, in the case of the film) take while embarking on exciting journeys and reflecting on those experiences. The catchy country melody is just what you would want to listen to on a road trip.
The video below shows Collins and crew performing the song.
“Song of Mor’du” (Brave)
Billy Connolly and company deliver a winning, Celtic-inspired romp in Disney-Pixar’s Brave. It’s all about killing a vicious bear that has haunted the inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands. Sounds like a flavorful Disney ditty, huh? The ultra-violent nature of the song’s lyrics is lightened by the playfulness of the performers, whose lavish lyrics and humor unite in an unexpected musical sequence. After repeat listens, this one will get stuck in your head, and you may not feel frustrated if that’s the case due to its macabre charm.
“Nothing Can Stop Me Now” (Planes)
Rocking it all the way, the exhilarating “Nothing Can Stop Me Now” pulls you in from the moment you hear the electric guitar. Perhaps one of my favorite portions from Planes is this number, which underscores Dusty Crophopper’s driven personality. A perfect workout song or, at the very least, a motivational piece to get you ready for the day ahead, “Nothing Can Stop Me Now” is just what you need when searching for a boost.
“The Frigate That Flies” (The Pirate Fairy)
DisneyToon Studios hits it out of the park once again with music, surprisingly enough. For The Pirate Fairy, an entry in the Tinker Bell films, Disney enlisted the vocal prowess of none other than Tom Hiddleston to play a young Captain Hook. Good choice, Mouse House, for he also sings, as heard in the soaring, swashbuckling ship song. Much in the vein of “Song of Mor’du,” “The Frigate That Flies” screams your higher-than-average Disney “bro song” with all male singers. Think “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan. “Frigate” has an inspirational tone that also serves as a wonderful pick-me-up.
The behind-the-scenes video from the Walt Disney Studios Australia YouTube channel below features some of the song.
“Made of Stone” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, stage musical)
Quasimodo returns! I first wrote about this epic piece when reviewing the soundtrack last year. Michael Arden perfectly portrayed Quasimodo in the American stage production of Hunchback that played during a limited time a couple of years ago. Of course, “Out There” is the troubled protagonist’s primary number, but “Made of Stone” scores right up there. The showcase of a song was first featured in the 1999 Germany iteration of the show, yet most American audiences did not know about it until more recently. We feel Quasimodo’s soul and suffering through the heartbreaking lyrics, heightened even further by Arden’s rendition. It’s a must-listen song that should not be overlooked by Disney fans and Broadway music lovers alike.
Here is a performance of Arden as Quasimodo singing “Made of Stone” in a YouTube video captured by user Jack Danya Kemplin.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, released the first and third Thursdays of each month on Geeks of Doom.