Monday, January 28, 2013

My Favorite 2D Animated Disney Movies

       This month, I’ve reviewed some Disney classics, listed favorite songs, villains and have ranked the Pixar movies from least favorite to favorite. So, I’ve pretty much covered everything and now to finish off Disney month properly, here are my absolute favorites, and by that I mean favorite of the traditional, 2D animated movies (for the record, the “Toy Story” films are my all time favorite animated movies ever made, traditional animation or not). As of now, Disney has released 46 animated movies, some better than others, but most of them are great. So here’s a list of my own personal, top 14 favorite traditional 2D animated Disney classics. Now this isn’t going to be an easy list to do because there are just so many great ones to choose from, so don’t be too disappointed if classics like “Pinocchio”, “The Sword in the Stone”, “Fantasia” and “The Lion King” are not mentioned, I like all those too, but I can only list so much. Also, these films aren't being arranged in any specific order of least great to greatest, it's just my personal favorites thrown out one at a time (well, #1 is definitely my number one favorite). So with all that said, let’s look back at all the magic, fantasy and joy that Disney has to offer.

#14 Robin Hood

Now here’s a very simple and very fun family adventure film. It may not qualify as great material but it is still a lot of fun to watch. Something about these characters and this world where everyones an animal morphed person is a real joy to be submersed in. I can watch these characters have simple conversations with each other all day and I’ll be satisfied, their just that much fun. Throw in some catchy music, fun action scenes, funny jokes and you got yourself a nostalgic gem. 

#13 The Princes and the Frog

What a breath of fresh air to get a traditionally animated Disney movie in the late 2000’s, with traditionally wholesome charms and some of the best characters that Disney has provided in years. Also, count on Disney to take a location as dark and gloomy as a swamp and turn it into a magical and vibrant world in of itself. I especially love all the jazzy tunes and the overall look and feel of Louisiana. Not much else to say, it’s fun, magical, refreshing and a personal favorite. 

#12 Tarzan

Disney's “Tarzan” is about as exciting as animated jungle adventures get, it’s faced passed and full of riveting action sequences. This film also marks the next big step in Disney animation, the stuff they do with Tarzan when he goes tree surfing is just awesome. The story is also good, the characters have their conflicts and the sound track by Phil Collins is outstanding. Overall, “Tarzan” is a really fun adventure for kids and does a great job taking a well-known story to an exciting new level.

#11 The Rescuers Down Under

Now here’s a film that takes a relatively simple plot and turns it into an awesome animated experience. The first “Rescuers” movie from 1977 is one of the cutest animated offering from Disney but it’s the sequel that comes off as a far stronger film. It isn’t quite as heartwarming as the first but the characters are still just as great as ever. The real strength of this movie lies within its amazing production value. It was the very first impressive looking animated film that set the standards for the animation shown in “Beauty and the Best” and “The Lion King”. Every shot is an eye opener, with a huge scope, detailed settings, occasionally beautiful scenery and the eagle flight is honestly one of my favorite moments from an animated movie, capturing the beauty of flight perfectly. There may not be much more to this film other than an exciting family adventure, but then again movies like “Raiders of the Lost Arch” are still praised simply for being a good old fashion adventure flick, so why not this.

#10 Hercules

Back when I was a little kid, “Hercules” was my favorite Disney movie that I’d watch all the time. It was a super hero story, it had giant monsters, it had catchy music, it had an awesome villain, it had slapstick comedy, it had memorable characters and stellar animation, it was just an awesome flick. As an adult, I still enjoy this film and found other things to appreciate. The characters have depth and the message is genuinely wholesome. All the Greek references are fun, the colors are great, the lighting is stylish, and I especially love the look and design of the film, which was based on artist Gerald Scarfe's work. Every time I watch this film I discover something new or notice something that represents a change in the story or in a character. In a nut shell, “Hercules” is a colorful and faced paced film that offers a lot of entertainment as well as some decent morals for young viewers.

#9 The Fox and the Hound

Of all the Disney movies to feature animals as the main characters, this one is my personal favorite. It seems to represent that special time from our child hood, when the best thing in the world was spending time with your best friend. The movie’s worth watching just for those adorable scenes of our two lead characters as cute little pups having fun together. Most Disney movies seem to fallow the same formula of a man and woman falling in love, but this film is different, it’s all about two kids who started up as best friends, but then grew up to be enemies. It’s a very dramatic and refreshing concept for a kids film. It ranges from dark and tragic, to uplifting and beautiful, and as a result, it doesn’t feel like any other film to come from Disney. The atmosphere is great and I especially love the conflicts at the end of the film, as it’s not your typical good vs. evil scenario. The ending is one of the phew scenes in an animated movie to get me all chocked up inside. Seriously, if this ending doesn't get you at least a little teary eyed, then you just don’t have a soul.  

#8 Pocahontas

If you can get past the films questionable (possibly offensive) depiction of a Native American culture and lack of proper history depictions, there are still a lot of things that I really love about this movie. The music is stellar, and some of Disney’s greatest songs are featured in this film. I love its magical air, the morals are great and Pocahontas herself is one of my favorite leading Disney woman. She has more of a spiritual nature, connected to the great things in life that we take for granted. I especially love how this is a story about warring neighbors with two people from opposite ends falling in love, kind of like “Romeo and Juliet” or "West Side Story", except this time the relationship was more beneficial for both sides. Beyond all of that, I just love looking at this film, the colors are so warm and the backgrounds are such rich spectacles. This is a film that you can watch on mute and still have a great time. I honestly think it’s the most beautiful looking animated Disney movie ever made, and that's saying something.

#7 The Emperor’s New Groove

Oh Yeah, gotta include this film, it’s simply the funniest, hippest and purely entertaining film to come from Disney.  Seriously, if “Mel Brooks” or “Monty Python” ever tempted to do a Disney film, it would probably be like this. Both “Aladdin” and “Hercules” had their comedic moments but “The Emperor’s New Groove”  is the only one that had me laughing myself silly as a kid. The film contains every great cartoon, comedy cliché, like the shoulder angel arguing with the shoulder devil, pointless moments like the chimp and the bug, someone arguing with the narrator, and my personal favorite, the lead character pausing the movie just to give the audience pointless information, classic! Despite being more like a “Looney Tune” cartoon than a theatrical animated Disney movie, there is still a lot of heart in this film and a genuinely touching reformation story about a selfish king that became a dignified man. The characters are a lot of fun, with their zany personalities but there not without some depth. All in all, it’s just joy wrapped in one big package. 

#6 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

You couldn’t ask for a more wholesome and innocent family film than “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, as it’s such a timeless treasure that no family should be without. For many kids, it was one of the very first animated movies they ever saw, thus one of the most nostalgic movies ever made, and it set the standard for animated films for decades to come. With all the new developments in animated technology, this film still stands strong with its magical story and wonderful characters. The songs are charming, the characters are unforgettable and the storytelling is light as air, which makes this one of the most simplistic, yet magical experiences you could ask for and that’s good enough for me. Personally, it’s my favorite of all the films to come from Walt Disney himself. 

#5 Aladdin

No Disney collection is complete without this gem from Disney’s second golden age. It's simply the equivalent of a classic Disney movie, and whenever I think of a popular Disney hero, Disney princcess, comedic side character or Disney villain, these are the characters that always come to mind first. That doesn't mean there my absolute favorites, but they are the most nostalgic. It’s just an excellent cast of scene steeling characters that hold your attention through the entire film. The music is great, the animation is top notch, there's a subtle message about excepting one's self for who they are, the lovers have great chemistry and it’s just one of the most thoroughly entertaining animated films ever made. Like I even need to say much more, you’ve all seen it, you know how good it is and if you haven’t seen it, then I’m sorry to say that your child hood just wasn’t complete.

#4 Beauty and the Beast

This is what you call a near flawless film, because everything just works. The female lead is great, the villain is perfect, the supporting characters are excellent, the animation is stunning, the music is unforgettable and it’s a classic fairy tale with deep subject materials like discovering the ugliness of one's life and finding the true beauty hidden deep within. I regrettably didn't grow up with this film the same way I did with other Disney classics, so it lacks the Nostalgic factor, but it hardly matters because this is still a great film and well worth watching weather you’re a kid or an adult.

#3 Treasure Planet

If you can’t afforded to go to Disney land in California, Florida or anywhere, then just rent this film, because this is every bit as exhilarating as any theme park ride, and its complete with drops, spins, speed, action and all kinds of enjoyment just being blown in your face at every minute. Yet, the films non-stop excitement never over shadows the characters or the message, which always stuck with me. The plot is a traditional treasure hunt adventure, but the focus is on a very nicely put together father /son kind of relationship between the hero and villain. It’s not the traditional Disney formula and it’s a refreshing concept for the film. The visual effects are amazing, combining CGI effects with traditional hand drawn animation, and it’s all just another big step in developed technology. The music is great, the pacing is fast and fun, it has a heart in the center and even though I didn't grow up with this film the same way I did with the others, it’s still a personal favorite and an awesome adventure through outer space. 

#2 Fantasia 2000

Whenever I’m feeling too picky about a film, I always look to “Fantasia 2000” to remind me that it's all about the experience, not the details. This is a film that has no dialog (at least from the cartoon characters) and no running plot but that’s the point, it’s the perfect example of a visual media. It’s not telling an emotional story, and instead it’s more like an emotional experience. There’s beauty, there’s terror, there’s comedy, there’s drama and it’s all brought to life with the simple use of combining animation with great music. The visuals are just amazing to look at, it’s so colorful and it all matches with the music so well that it literally becomes visual poetry. Characters convey so much with just their expressions and body movements that you don’t need dialog to get attached to them and it’s the simplicity of the whole experience that allows me to just enjoy this without critically analyzing anything. Even though the film has epic music combined with big visuals, it still flows with the graceful rhythm of a ballet. “Fantasia 2000” is just as beautiful to watch as it is to listen to.

Before I reveal my number one choice, here are my honorable mentions ...

"Peter Pan" (1953), 
"The Little Mermaid" (1989)
"Mulan" (1998)
"The Rescuers” (1977),
"Fantasia" (1940), 
The Three Caballeros” (1944) 
Sleeping Beauty” (1959). 

#1 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

With its strong visuals, sensational music, dark themes, epic size and beautiful message of tolerance, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is arguably my personal favorite. Honestly, I just love how out of the box this one is, going for a more mature angle that plays for both kids and adults alike. The story is engaging and everything is brought up on a grand scale, the quire is big and the sheer size and scope of this film is just massive. The musical numbers are also some of my favorites, sounding great while still moving the story forward like an on stage musical. I also like how dark this film gets, it took more chances but it never went to far that it became unpleasant, in fact it always had something positive to balance out. It also features a small cast of characters but there’s something so down to earth and genuine when their together on screen that they stand out as some of Disney’s finest. The hero is kind and humble, the villain is awesome, even complex and the supporting characters all do their job perfectly. There's even parts when this film touches on issues of faith and religion. All this and more, as if I even needed more, land “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” as my personal favorite, traditionally animated Disney movie of all time.

      The End

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Disney’s Fantasia (1940 movie review)

      This film is widely regarded as one of the absolute greatest, if not the greatest animated film to come from Disney. “Fantasia” was released in 1940, making it the third full length animated movie from the Disney studio and it was Walt Disney’s biggest dream project to create a movie that was like an animated consort feature and that’s just what the movie is, a collection of animated short films that are all matched to classical music. While it’s personally not one of my absolute favorite Disney movies, I do still hold a lot of admiration towed this film for being so unique and innovative for its time. The same way that classic musical pieces like Beethoven's 5th symphony are considered immortal, I’d like to make the argument that “Fantasia” is also immortal for being such a landmark experience, not just in regard to Disney and animation but to film in general.

                  (Live-action scenes/ Intermission/ Meet the Soundtrack)

    Now there’s seven animated musical numbers in this film and in-between all the shorts are brief live action scenes with our host Deems Taylor, who was one of the most well known radio celebrities of the time. He brings a lot of class and sophistication to the film, even a subtle sense of hummer and he has such a perfect voice that just adds to the whole mood of the film. Accompanying him is maestro Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, who conduct and perform all the music herd in the feature. I love how their always silhouetted against a blue backdrop, it’s such a nice and artistic touch. Another nice little touch is that mid way through the film there’s actually an Intermission, where we get to have fun with the Soundtrack, almost like a comedian that would entertain an audience midway through a stage production.

                                                                    (Toccata and Fugue)

     Sense this film doesn’t have a continuing story the same way other Disney movies do, it’s probably best to just review the shorts individually. We begin with “Toccata and Fugue” which is a terrific opening piece. Basically, it’s just a collection of abstract images that come to mind if you were to think of music on a sub conches level. The images are all very unique and imaginative while still fitting with the music and tone of the whole piece. I especially love how this one begins with the Orchestra silhouetted against various colors and then the animation gradually comes into play. There’s not much else to say about this one, it’s not as good as most of the other numbers but it’s a perfect place to start things off.

                                                                    (The Nutcracker Suite)
     This is one of my favorite shorts from “Fantasia”, just like how the movie is a collection of shorts, the “Nutcracker Suite” is also a collection of shorts in itself. It’s like a box of chocolates, some are good, some are okay and some are terrific. I just love the wide aroma of different things that are presented in this short alone, sometimes its fairies using colorful magic or ice skating, other times its marching mushrooms and sometimes it’s just the changing of seasons. Some bits I hated (especially as a kid), like that one really boring bit with that gold fish, but other parts like the falling flower pedals I loved. My favorite bit is with the dancing flowers, I watched that over and over as a kid and it always got me dancing around my room. It’s just so colorful and lively that it still brings me joy to this day. I especially love the bit with the changing seasons, just the movement of falling snowflakes or leaves blowing in the wind creates such a genuine and emotional response.

                                (The Sorcerer's Apprentice/Micky Mouce Cartoon)
    This episode needs no introduction, it’s the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon that we all know and remember. Ever sense he first appeared in the cartoon “Steamboat Willie”, Mickey Mouse has gone on to become a Disney classic like no other and is personally my favorite cartoon character ever. I would watch Mickey Mouse cartoons all the time as a kid and while “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” wasn’t his first or best cartoon, it was still the first time that the character would be seen in a theatrical animated Disney movie and it would go on to be his most famous screen appearance. Mickey Mouse would be seen in two other theatrical animated Disney movies, "Fun and Fancy Free" and "Fantasia 2000", however, they weren’t quiet as iconic. Whenever people think of Mickey Mouse, the first thing that usually comes to mind is him as a wizard. I’ve memorized just about every frame of this episode and it’s still just as charming as when I first saw it as a kid, however, if it wasn’t for the novelty of Mickey Mouse, this episode wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to the other “Fantasia” shorts.

                                                                          (The Rite of Spring)
      Now here’s one that I have a lot of mixed feelings about. This short is built into three acts, the first act focusing on birth, the second act focusing on life and the third act focusing on death. It depicts a chain of events beginning in outer space, we then see our planet when it was just a molten waist, then we see cells reproduce, followed by the life of Dinosaurs, which then leads to their extinction. As a kid, I loved dinosaurs more than anything, so it was cool to see all these creatures, the lava bit was really cool too and that T-Rex was just awesome, the way it came out in the rain with that whole musical score boasting its size was just stellar. Having said that, I was still plenty upset that the spike tail dyed. That’s really the problem I had with this short, the tone is very uneven. Unlike “The Land Before Time” which had a collection of fluffy and colorful characters, these Dinosaurs were all so dark and creepy looking, even the settings had this dark and foreboding mood to them. The music in this scene isn’t even that fun to listen to and it just creates this very unbalanced feel. In the end, it's cool to watch but it just leaves me with this hollow, bitter sweet feeling. 

                                                                      (The Pastoral Symphony)
     When I was a little kid, I hated this part but after seeing it again as an adult, I thoroughly love this one. Everything about it is just fantastic, I love the setting, I love the imagery and I love that this one has this big collection of colorful characters that all say so much without even speaking. This short is set in ancient grease with a mythological over tone and features a wide selection of different creatures like female and male centaurs, winged horses, unicorns, fawns, flying baby’s and mythological god’s like Zeus and Apollo. What I especially love about this episode are the colors, whoever did the artistic design really knew what they were doing because this looks wonderful. After seeing all the dark visuals and tones in “The Rite of Spring”, it’s such a breath of fresh air to see this world full of so much color and life. There are a lot of sub stories going on here, like an infant flying horse that’s just learning to fly with his family and there’s also a lonely male centaur who falls in love with a lonely female. It’s basically just the life of these creatures and it all flows with the rhythm and movement of a ballet, and it leaves me feeling great every time.

                                                                     (Dance of the Hours)
    I always called this one, the ballet of the animals, because that’s all it really is, just a bunch of animals like ostriches, elephants, crocodiles and hippos in ballet attire, dancing to one of the most famous ballets of all time. This is personally my least favorite of all the “Fantasia” shorts, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad either, it’s still cute and it has its colors and charms. It’s just very odd to see a hippopotamus dancing around with a crocodile and it doesn’t have the same artsy feel of some of the others. But it’s still okay and is probably the cartoonist and most kid friendly the film ever gets.

                                              (Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria)
     This is easily my favorite of all the “Fantasia” shorts, these two different styles of music are so different in tone and theme that they off set each other perfectly. We begin with “Night on Bald Mountain” and I can’t even express in words how terrifying this was to see at a young age. Its scary right from the start, with that painting of the mountain, all that green lighting and the chilling silence, it draws you in immediately. Then that creepy music begins to build up and throughout the remainder of the cartoon, we get shadows engulfing towns, cemeteries, creepy imagery, phantoms floating all over the place, demonic creatures dancing around flames and all kinds of unspeakable, terrifying creatures just leaping at the screen, it’s awesome. I remember being 4 years old and running behind my couch because I was so scared that those things would leap out of my TV screen but now I make it a tradition to watch this short every Halloween. Sense the movie dosn't really have a climax, this was probably the most exciting episode to end the movie on.

    But the big show stealer of this whole sequence is the demonic villain named Chernabog, and while his name isn’t very well known, everyone remembers what he looks like. In fact, he’s gone on to become one of the most well know and popular Disney villains in his own unique way. I’ll certainly say this, of all the animated villains to come from Disney, none of them terrified me quiet as much as this guy. Those evil eyes and wicked smile always came back to haunt my dreams. The modal actor for Chernabog is none other than horror movie legend Bela Lugosi, whose name is legendary for playing Dracula in the 1931 "Dracula" Classic. Actually, I do get a Bela Lugosi vibe when looking at Chernabog, the motions in his arms and flow in his long wingspan is very reminiscent of Dracula. But what really makes this character so terrifying is that he personifies the devil. Actually, both Walt Disney and Deems Taylor refer to him as Satan himself. Isn’t that nice, the Devil is a villain in a Disney movie, and it’s not like one of those fun shoulder devils that argue with a shoulder angel, this is a purely monstrous and evil creature that turns beauty into filth and creates life only to kill it. While he’s not officially labeled as the devil, he still has this evil presence, in fact the name Chernabog is Slavic for "Black God".

    But the big reason that makes this my favorite animated short of “Fantasia” is what follows next. Chernabog is defeated by the tolling of the Angelus Bell, which leads into Josh Grobans immortal song “Ava Maria”, which is easily one of the most powerful moments to be featured in an animated movie. It’s the only time we hear lyrics and every time I watch this scene, I get a little terry eyed at the end. It’s also a breath of fresh air to have an ending to a Disney movie that's just so moving and simple, nothing feels over the top, the animation is warm and I just feel so touched while watching it. For whatever its worth, this scene alone is my favorite moment from an animated Disney movie.

    Overall, “Fantasia” is just a powerhouse of art combining beautiful artistry with classical music and creating visual poetry in the Process. The only real problem I have with this movie is that it’s looming in the shadow of its sequel “Fantasia 2000”, which I personally found to be a far more beautiful and stunning piece of animated art. Having said that, I do still like the original and certainly regard it to be a classic animated masterpiece that will live on till the end of time.  

                                                                      I give “Fantasia” 4 stars out of 5.
                                                                                  The End

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Top 10 Underrated Disney songs

       When it comes to Disney, one of their biggest highlights is there classic selection of songs, especially from their animated pictures. There are so many timeless tunes ranging from “Be Our Guest” in “Beauty and the Beast” to “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin”, that kids and families probably know all the lyrics off by heart. However, for all the hit Disney songs, there’s just as many great ones that just aren’t given as much attention, heck some may not even know these songs exist. So to make sure good music doesn’t go unheard, here are my personal top 10 underrated Disney Songs.  

10. “Tomorrow is Another Day” from “The Rescuers

The title of this song may sound very familiar, because it’s a tagline that’s been used countless times in films like “Gone with the Wind” and “Annie”, but that’s why I love this song. It feels so timeless and familiar, yet it’s one of the lesser known Disney songs. When the movies two little hero’s set off on a journey to rescue a kidnapped girl, they get a renewed sense of hope that a rainbow may be at the end of a storm. There’s something genuinely wholesome about the promise of a new day, and new beginnings which is beautifully captured in this musical number. The melody is charming, and the scene itself boasts some splendid animation as they travel by air over several colorful locations.  

9. “I’m Still Here” from “Treasure Planet

Disney’s “Treasure Planet” has always been one of my favorite traditionally animated movies of the 2000’s and while it’s not a musical like many of the others, it still has two really good songs performed by Johnny Rzeznik. The highlight is “I’m Still Here”, which becomes the main theme of the movies hero Jim Hawkins, a young man who’s been having lots of problems. This upbeat theme song addresses that no matter how ruff life can get, you should never let the pressures of the world bring you down. It’s energized, and reflects the personal struggles and triumphs of our hero perfectly.    

8. “Why Should I Worry” from “Oliver and Company

Billy Joel hits it out of the park with one of the catchiest musical numbers to ever come from Disney. I swear, if you listen to this once, you’ll be humming it all day, it’s just that catchy. Unfortunately, it’s also a really underappreciated song from a really underrated Disney movie. Actually, there are lots of really good songs in this film, including the opening segment titled “Once Upon a Time in New York City”, but it’s Billy Joel’s song that really stands out. When a homeless cat named Oliver comes across a street wise talking dog named dodger, it doesn’t take long for him sing about how to survive in the big city. What can I say, I’m a sucker for this, it’s upbeat, nostalgic and unbelievably catchy.    

7. “You’ll be in my Heart” from “Tarzan

Disney’s “Tarzan” came out at a time when the studios animated movies were at the quality of Broadway musicals. “Tarzan” however wasn’t a musical at all, it was just a movie that happened to have songs in it, all of which were sung by Phil Collins, which you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I really love this soundtrack, and the songs ranging from “Two Worlds” to “Strangers like Me” are some of my absolute favorites. But the big song that always seems to get overlooked is “You’ll be in my Heart”. It’s a touching, soft rock baled that serves as the perfect melody for when the infant Tarzan is adopted by loving female Gorilla that had just lost a child of her own. Describing a mother’s love while transcending differences was so emotional that for 19 weeks it topped the adult contemporary charts and won that year’s Oscar and Golden Globe award for best original song.  Let’s hope this song finds its way back in the lineup of popular songs from Disney. 

6. “Baby Mine” from “Dumbo

If this song doesn’t get you the least bit terry eyed, then you just don’t have a soul. Of all the really touching moments to come from Disney, nothing ever tugged harder at the heart strings then this scene and whenever I hear that peaceful melody, I can’t help but get all chocked up inside. In this scene the infant elephant Dumbo visits his mother who was wrongfully put in prison. What follows is a wholesome little lullaby that’s every bit as sad as it is comforting. The late Betty Noyes provides the singing, and she really hits it out of the park. The song itself got an Oscar nod for best original song, and was on top of all the hit charts for a while, but sense then it’s sadly fallen by the waist side and is no longer a house hold name. People of the internet, we need to turn this around, because this song dissevers to be a house hold title again.   

5. “Bahia” from “The Three Cablleros

Bet you weren't expecting this, but here it is in all its underrated glory. As a child, I watched this movie all the time, and the music really holds up to this day. As Donald Duck and his comrades travel the globe, they make a stop at a city in Brazil called Bahia, and as one big love letter to this location, we’re treated to a magical number revolving around the subtle beauty of this place. Personally, this is one of my favorite segments to ever come from a Disney movie, the simple hand panted illustrations, the warm colors, the peaceful music, it just conveys a really calm mood and it’s just dripping with atmosphere. While there’s a lot of terrific songs in this film, it’s the music of “Bahia” that just fills me with warmth, beauty and I look forward to experiencing it time and time again.     

4. “Out There” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame

There aren’t too many other Disney songs that combine beauty, emotion, simplicity and bring it up on a big scale quiet as well as this one. Everything starts nice and subtle as we see our hero Quasimodo and the villain Frollo deep in conversation. It doesn’t take long for us to feel sympathy for Quasimodo as he's trapped under his evil masters leash, and is stuck in his tower. However, as the scene builds, he sings about how he’s yearning to go out there and embrace the world. It’s such an uplifting musical number, brought up on a grand scale and voice actor Tom Hulce (the same talent who played “Amadeus”) really puts a lot of passion into this song. While it’s short on the traditional catchy lyrics of other Disney tunes, it’s still an upbeat spectacle and personal favorite of mine from the studios ever growing soundtrack collection. 

3. “Human Again” from “Beauty and the Beast

The musical segment titled “Human Again” from the 1991 motion picture “Beauty and the Beast” is very different from all the other songs on my list, because this was actually deleted from the theatrical release of the film. However, it’s been re-inserted into several DVD additions, and hopefully this cheerfully upbeat song will become more popular. In this musical number, all the enchanted objects in the castle get the chance to express their desire to be human again, which may not sound that special, but the presentation is awesome. It stars calm and simple, then it gradually builds, the environments get really active and the quire just gets stronger by the minuet. The lyrics are catchy, everything is elevated on a grand scale, I love the way it transitions to various locations on the castle grounds, and it just feels like it belongs with Disney’s classics songs.  

2. “If I Never Knew You” from “Pocahontas

Speaking of musical numbers that you can only see on the extended cut, Disney’s “Pocahontas” also had a fantastic song number that was unfortunately deleted from the theatrical film, but edited back in for the 10th anniversary DVD. When John Smith is captured by Native American Indians and sentenced to death, he’s visited by the Indian princess who won his heart earlier and together they share a song number titled “If I Never Knew You”. Pocahontas and John Smith were never one of my favorite Disney couples, but this song is still a personal favorite, it’s subtle, and quiet touching in its own right. It’s making its way in popularity but still isn’t a house hold title like “A Whole new World”. Shame, because I think this is one of the better romantic songs to come from Disney. The melody is beautiful and it’s such a great song about what life would be like without someone you loved. The final version performed by Jon Secada & Shanice is also fantastic. I really hope more people discover this because it really is one of Disney’s best romantic songs.    

Before I reveal my #1 pick, here are some honorable mentions...

Oo-De-Lally” from “Robin Hood
Higitus Figitus” from “The Sword and the Stone
True to Your Heart” from “Mulan
Everybody wants to be a Cat” from “The Aristocats
Look Through my Eyes” from “Brother Bear

1. Go the Distance from “Hercules

When it comes to Disney’s “Hercules”, I think most people remember the wilder musical numbers like “Zero to Hero”, but they miss the more subtle musical numbers, one of which happens to be one of my all time favorite Disney songs. Taking the top spot on my list is “Go the Distance”, a triumphant anthem for a hero, and it was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe award for best original song. Even Michael Bolton’s rendition was pretty darn good, and found its way on the top of the hot contemporary tracks chart. It’s initially sung by a young teenage Hercules that doesn’t fit in with the people around him, but it really highlights the better parts of his character. It’s an inspiring musical piece with an uplifting tone, a triumphant score and it’s arguably the most underappreciated Disney song that I really hope gets more attention.