Best Disney Animated Movie Soundtracks, Ranked

ytsfreeSeptember 17, 2022

The surprise success of the Disney hit single ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno,’ taken from the animated feature film Encanto, ironically had everyone talking about it. Interestingly, not even Disney predicted the popularity of the song, which climbed to the top of the Billboard Chart, making it the second Disney song to ever do so. At the moment, just one YouTube video for the song is pushing 500 million views.


Updated September 16, 2022: In order to maintain our high degree of quality and consistency, and to acknowledge new releases, we’ve updated this article to reflect the best collection of great Disney soundtracks in movie history.

A successful soundtrack is nothing new for Disney, though. For over 80 years, Disney has been responsible for some of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time. While children are a large part of the target audience, the soundtracks are far from just sing-alongs and nursery rhymes. Disney has worked with some of the world’s most talented songwriters to compose songs across a vast array of styles ranging from pop and rock to traditional mariachi, jazz, and classical. With millions of sales worldwide, 14 Oscar-winning songs, numerous Grammy Awards, and dozens of soundtracks to choose from, here are the best Disney animated movie soundtracks, ranked.

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12 Tarzan

For the soundtrack for the 1999 classic Tarzan, Disney turned to former Genesis drummer come singer and all-round pop sensation Phil Collins. His signature upbeat pop-rock anthems were plentiful, with the inescapably catchy “You’ll Be in My Heart” winning both the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine anyone else than the inimitable Phil Collins providing the soundtrack to this rip-roaring jungle adventure, but at the time, he might not have been the most obvious choice.

Related: Encanto Review: Stunning Animation Rescues a Tiresome Soundtrack

His last studio album had been Dance into The Light, which had been released a full three years prior and had underperformed, eventually getting certified Gold in the US. The Tarzan soundtrack turned out to be a huge comeback for him going double platinum in the US and winning him and Disney a Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album.

11 Moana

The most recent entry on the list, Moana has a beautiful and eclectic soundtrack, featuring songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’I, that was repeated word for word by millions of children across the globe. From the powerful Broadway-inspired “How Far I’ll Go” to the semi-sung, semi-rapped “You’re Welcome,” (performed surprisingly adeptly by Dwayne Johnson), to the Davie Bowie styled glam rock of “Shiny” and the more traditional South Pacific influences found elsewhere throughout the album, there’s a whole heap to love about the Moana soundtrack. A lot of people did love the soundtrack, it turns out, evidenced by its peak at number two on the US Billboard Chart.

10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The oldest entry on the list, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and its accompanying soundtrack is notable as the first ever commercially issued soundtrack album and is nothing short of iconic. Firstly, there’s the beautiful and hypnotic voice of Adriana Caselotti as Snow White, keeping morale high among her animal companions as she whistled while she worked.

She maintains her positive outlook as she serenades the audience and the seven dwarfs with “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Then, there’s the fantastic whimsy of slightly more playful songs of the seven dwarfs themselves, including their Yodel song and “Heigh Ho,” a song that sounds just as fun and catchy today as it did over 80 years ago.

9 Mulan

Featuring one of Disney’s most admirable and inspiring heroines of all time, the beloved 1998 hit Mulan tells the unforgettable tale of the brave titular character as she disregards the law and social norms to serve in the army in place of her father, disguising herself as a man to do so. ’90s kids couldn’t get enough of the animated film’s catchy numbers, belting along to the emotional ballad “Reflection,” the butt-kicking up-tempo classic “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” and the humorous “A Girl Worth Fighting For.”

The Matthew Wilder and David Zippel penned soundtrack was a smash hit that enlisted the talent of legendary performers like Stevie Wonder and Christina Aguilera and went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. Donny Osmond provided his vocals for the singing voice of Li Shang while Disney alum Lea Salonga provided hers for Mulan, with the actress having previously done so for Jasmine in 1992’s Aladdin. The songs included in Mulan remain some of the Disney Renaissance’s most outstanding and distinct tunes that are celebrated to this day.

8 Pocahontas

Despite taking somewhat controversial creative liberties with the eponymous historical figure, 1995’s Pocahontas is revered for its stunning visuals, empowering female lead and outstanding voice performances and music, all of which led to the overwhelming success of both the film and soundtrack. Few Disney songs were able to connect with audiences on an emotional level like the enlightening ballad “Colors of the Wind”, which beautifully taught us about the importance of respecting nature while also exploring the concept of animism. The song went on to become a top-ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and won both a Grammy, Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

For the epic soundtrack, Disney once again enlisted lauded composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, with the duo nabbing the Oscar for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score. “Colors of the Wind” isn’t the only stand-out track on the album, with the moving romantic ballad “If I Never Knew You,” the exciting “Just Around the Riverbend,” and the melancholically somber “Savages” also being noteworthy numbers.

7 The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is often credited as being the movie that brought about the Disney Renaissance Era of the 1990s, and the soundtrack certainly played a big part in the success of the movie. Written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, it features an array of all-time classics including the romantic calypso-tinged ballad “Kiss the Girl,” the huge Broadway/burlesque inspired villain’s song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and Princess Ariel’s own power ballad “Part of Your World.”

The undeniable standout track, though, is the reggae/calypso banger “Under the Sea” performed by Samuel E. Wright. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.

6 Pinocchio

It’s hardly a surprise to find the soundtrack that contains the song that has become Disney’s official anthem on this list. Based on a simple melody and pure and hopeful lyrics that speak to anybody and everybody, the Pinocchio song “When You Wish Upon a Star” has been covered by a never-ending list of artists in the decades since the film’s release including Glen Miller, Beyoncé, and even Kiss’s Gene Simmons. It was also the first Oscar-winning Disney song. Despite the cultural significance of the song (and this version of Pinocchio), it’s important not to forget there were other great songs on the soundtrack including “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee” and “I’ve Got No Strings.”

5 Frozen

Some parents might be quick to disagree with this entry, there was a 12-month period around 2013-2014 in which this soundtrack was absolutely everywhere, and most probably sung by every child, every day. It was insanely popular and topped the Billboard album chart for 13 non-consecutive weeks and has sold four million copies in the US.

Related: Disney: The Evolution of Princesses in Movies

Despite the annoyance to numerous parents out there, there’s no denying that Frozen‘s lead single “Let it Go,” composed by husband-and-wife songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, is a great example of a soaring, catchy, anthemic, poppy show tune. It’s also near impossible not to sing along with “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”or smile when you hear Olaf’s “In Summer.”

4 Aladdin

Featuring the return of songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Aladdin‘s fun and jazzy soundtrack boasts a number of Disney’s all-time greatest hits. There’s the great Robin Williams genie-led laugh-out-loud Cab Calloway-style “Friend Like Me,” the Tim Rice penned “One Jump Ahead,” the party sing-along “Prince Ali” and what is quite possibly Disney’s finest love song “A Whole New World.” Selling in excess of three million copies in the US alone, it’s one of the all-time best-selling soundtrack albums to an animated film.

3 The Jungle Book

This head bobbing, toe thumping 1967 soundtrack with songs written by Terry Gilkyson and the Sherman Brothers is a masterclass in jazzy pop catchiness. The Jungle Book soundtrack managed to achieve the amazing feat of making every single song and piece of music an unforgettable classic. Whether you’re dancing around the room to the upbeat jazzy “Bare Necessities” or “I Wanna Be Like You” or snapping your fingers along with the Beatles-meets-barbershop quartet song “That’s What Friends Are For,” every song exhibits a real skill in musicality while exuding fun and playfulness, exactly what is needed for an ideal Disney soundtrack.

2 Beauty and the Beast

The third film on the list to feature the work of songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Beauty and the Beast proves that Disney was definitely onto something during this renaissance. Slightly more Broadway/theater-influenced and less poppy than some of their other work, there’s still a whole plethora of influences to be found on this soundtrack including traditional French and classical music. Much like the film, the album was a huge international success with fans and critics alike. When released, it garnered three separate Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song for “Belle,” “Be Our Guest,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” This was, and still is, unheard of, and producer Don Hahn expressed concern that this would cause confusion among audiences and voters.

With this much quality to offer, was there really a reason to worry? Of course not — the “Beauty and the Beast” song went on to win the award. The soundtrack was so good, in fact, it made history by becoming the first animated film soundtrack to receive an Album of the Year Grammy nomination. Whether it’s the boisterous swaggering of “Gaston,” the huge sounding show tune “Be Our Guest,” or the career-making Celine Dion-recorded single version of “Beauty and the Beast,” there’s most certainly at least one Disney favorite for everyone to be found on this soundtrack.

1 The Lion King

The Lion King probably has the greatest Disney soundtrack of all time. With a score by the legendary Hans Zimmer and songs by Tim Rice and international pop superstar Elton John, there is so much talent on display here it’s unreal, and this is reflected in a soundtrack that, like the movie, is emotional, exciting and entertaining from start to finish. Not only is it one of the highest grossing animated movies of all time, but also one of the highest grossing movie soundtracks of all time, selling over 15 million copies. Cleaning up at the awards, the soundtrack featured an array of pop and rock classics with a number of nice African influences to be found throughout to match the movie’s setting.

In one soundtrack alone, we have one of Disney’s funnest songs ever in “Hakuna Matata,” one of its finest love songs in “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” one of the greatest villain songs in “Be Prepared,” and possibly the greatest opening song of a Disney movie in “Circle of Life.” This soundtrack is definitely one to be enjoyed by those of all ages.

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