*All images taken from Google*
Music plays a big part in my connection to Disney movies, and Disney parks. I could listen to Disney movie soundtracks and theme park background tunes all day. Every note transports me to a different world; it’s as if I too am flying on the back of a magic carpet or flipping my fins under the sea, or becoming a master Wayfinder. I especially love to listen to Disney park music on my way to work via the Sorcerer Radio app- it’s as if I’ve been transported from my desk straight to the Magic Kingdom, and am currently waiting in line for my favorite attraction, rather than coding invoices.
It’s so hard to choose favorites of anything Disney related, but here are my top Disney scores, or instrumentals. Each brings me back to a favorite moment or scene in a Disney movie. I am emotionally invested to each of these scores, and could listen to them for hours on end. Here they are, in no particular order (and please feel free to correct me in the comments, as I know next to nothing about musical instruments):
“Prologue” and “Transformation” from Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken and Howard Ashman)
“Prologue”- This is such a haunting, lovely melody that immediately transports the viewer into the tale as old as time. We learn through the music (and over the visuals of stained glass windows) the story of the selfish prince turned beast, and the impossibility that someone could ever learn to love him. This music literally feels as though a spell is being cast- every time I hear the opening notes, I get chills. This music leads right into the show-stopping opening number “Belle,” making for a brilliant transition.
“Transformation”- It seems fitting that my second favorite instrumental from this movie comes at the end, right as Belle confesses her love for the beast and breaks the spell. In the beginning of the song, and the scene, we see the last petal drop, and the opening notes suggest that all hope is lost. But then, magic happens- the beast transforms into a handsome prince and the castle is restored to its former glory. The score of this scene provides such an emotional journey- first of despair, then of hope, then of joy and finally, celebration. We are treated to a finale, chorus-sung version of “Beauty and the Beast,” and oh- I don’t even have words. It makes me want to watch the movie again and again.
“Pumpkins and Mice” and “Who is She” from Cinderella, 2015 (Patrick Doyle)
“Pumpkins and Mice”– I mean, this is the scene where literally all of Cinderella’s dreams are coming true right before her eyes! It doesn’t get much more magical than this. I always wanted a fairy godmother when I was little, and I still do now. And it’s not because I wish for a man to rescue me- I just want a night off, I want to say “screw it” to all my responsibilities and chores, wear a pretty dress and dance the night away at a fancy ball. This is the scene where Cinderella finally gets to feel beautiful, and as her fairy godmother says, it all stems from the power of her kindness. What is a bowl of milk after all? Nothing. But kindness makes it everything.
This also the music that plays over her wonderful dress transformation scene, which always leaves me catching my breath.
“Who Is She”– The music reaches a crescendo as Cinderella walks into the ball, and all eyes turn to her. Who hasn’t pictured a moment like this? On days where I’m not feeling particularly beautiful, I like to picture a scene where I enter a room and immediately turn the head of every person there. That’s why I chose this to play during my wedding as the song I walk down the aisle to- it really does have a magical feel, and it makes any girl feel like a princess (even if just for a few hours). The music follows the theme of her mother’s lullaby, “Lavender’s Blue,” from the beginning of the movie, which I also think is a really nice touch.
“Nemo Egg (Main Title)” from Finding Nemo (Thomas Newman)
This music has notes of sadness and hope, as it both signifies the loss of Marlin’s wife and the happiness he feels when he finds Nemo still alive in his egg after the barracuda attack. I find it an odd choice, and a very different score, for the beginning of a movie (especially a Disney movie). This music does not promise completely carefree times ahead, but tells the viewer that we are about to see a story of both hardship and triumph- and that our hearts might just ache right along with the main characters along the way.
“Sorcery” from Frozen (Christophe Beck)
This tone is a very dark and foreboding one- fitting for a scene where Elsa’s big secret finally comes out to the world (after she has just been crowned Queen, no less). It speaks of fear and the wish to escape. Everyone now thinks she’s a monster, she’s just had a fight with her sister, and she’s in charge of a kingdom- a kingdom that she feels entirely isolated from. Elsa does the only thing she can think of, which is to run from the castle and her royal responsibilities- and be alone. At the end, we hear chilling musical notes as ice covers the fjords and the castle, signifying the fearful consequence of Elsa’s powers. This score then leads into the powerful ballad, “Let it Go.”
“King of Pride Rock” from The Lion King (Hans Zimmer)
This is the music that leads up to the battle between Simba and Scar, and ends in the triumphant scene of Simba climbing Pride Rock to take his place as king. I love how the music becomes slightly creepy in the middle, and then transforms into the musical tones of hope and heroism we’ve come to familiarize with the movie. The climax of this score is just so heartening- you can almost hear the roars of the animals, and the feeling of joy they hold that the land is finally being restored after all these years of Scars’ destruction. I love this music, and this scene, entirely too much.
“Walking Bus” from Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)
The ending to this song is so melancholy. It plays over a memory of her father that turns out sweet, but quickly turns sour. We don’t know why yet at this point in the movie, but there is a lot of heartbreak when it comes to Mrs. Travers and her father. Thomas Newman does the score for this, and the notes sound very familiar to those found in Wall E and Finding Nemo. It’s a whimsical piece of music that turns sullen and sad before we even know what hit us.
“Kingdom Dance” from Tangled (Alan Menken)
My husband makes fun of me for listening to this score so much, but to me it just screams happiness and excitement. It’s the kind of music one would play while walking into Disney World. Rapunzel is finally out of her tower and is getting to explore the world around her for the first time. She’s naïve, but rather than coming off as annoying, her curiosity and joy is infectious. She lets little girls braid her hair, she reads books, she samples cupcakes, and she brings all the villagers together in a dance, which lets her bond more with Flynn Rider. We know this is leading up to her getting to see the floating lanterns (her life dream), and we are just as excited as she is.
“Wreck-It Ralph” from Wreck-It Ralph (Henry Jackman)
Most of my favorites on this list are from either the beginning or the end of a movie. I believe a movie needs to have a good opening score in order to set the proper tone, and Wreck-It Ralph has one of the best “character introduction” scores I’ve ever heard. In the movie, we’ve just listened to his monologue and his desire to not be seen as the “bad guy” anymore. We learn of his video game world, and when this music starts, the opening credits of the film are finally shown. This is such a short but powerful score- the music starts off slow, and is quite gentle and calming for a movie about video games, heroes, and car racing. Just like Ralph, we quickly learn that the score for this movie is not what it first appears to be (the actual opening song “Life in the Arcade” gives more of an electronic-y vibe). The music rises to a pitch right as we get a first glimpse of “game central station,” and the world of Wreck-It Ralph finally comes to life. It makes me excited for the journey ahead, and it gives me hope that Ralph will find his place.
- “The Medallion Calls” from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Klaus Badelt)
- “Farewell” from Pocahontas (Alan Menken)
- “Married Life” from Up (Michael Giacchino)
- “Define Dancing” from Wall E (Thomas Newman)
- “Bundle of Joy” from Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)
Next up: My favorite music from the parks, my favorite instrumentals from NON Disney movies, and my overall favorite Disney tunes.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Hugs and Fishes,