Are These Really the 5 Best Songs from Animated Films Ever?

We think so! Most of us watched animated movies when we were kids. These films, and their music, have become entrenched in our culture. They played a huge role in most of our earliest memories. There are some truly fantastic animated movies out there, but a few songs stand out because…well, they’re just that great. Read on to learn more about the best songs (unless you disagree, feel free to comment below) from animated films!

Videos by American Songwriter

1. “When You Believe” — The Prince of Egypt (1998)

The Prince of Egypt retells the story of Exodus to a dynamic musical soundtrack. It’s stacked with excellent songs (another one that stands out is a strange but fun performance by Steve Martin and Martin Short as two villainous priests), but the film’s standout? The soaring, emotional, “When You Believe.”

To prove the point, this song made waves beyond the film industry, climbing to No. 15 on the charts and even earning an Academy Award. And pop divas Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey even performed a cover in the film credits. “When You Believe” is the first song that comes to mind when you think of The Prince of Egypt; it’s hard to beat the power and emotion behind the track. 

2. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” — Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story made waves when it hit theaters in 1995. For one thing, its storytelling and animation were revolutionary for the time. It’s also remembered for the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman. The song was so popular, it became the theme of the whole four-movie franchise. But its real brilliance comes down to the song’s ability to evoke the happiness of childhood play, something that we can all relate to. 

3. “Two Worlds” — Tarzan (1999)

Phil Collins composed and performed the soundtrack of 1999’s Tarzan, and he didn’t cut any corners. Every song in the movie is electric. It’s not hard to see why it became a bit of a cult classic after its release.

Tarzan is probably best remembered for the award-winning “You’ll Be in My Heart.” But another standout on the soundtrack is the opening track, “Two Worlds.” It sets the stage as Tarzan and his parents are shipwrecked; meanwhile, the gorilla Kala loses her baby to Sabor the leopard. Collins manages to cram so much emotion into a single song—an incredible composition and performance. 

4. “We Don’t Talk About BrunoEncanto (2021)

Sincere condolences to anyone named Bruno back when Encanto hit theaters. The movie was a smash hit, largely because of the dynamite soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It was crammed with top-rated songs (Jessica Darrow’s “Surface Pressure,” anyone?). But none of them could keep up with the popularity of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.”

This expositional tune is performed by the whole cast as they trade rumors about the ill-fated, clairvoyant Uncle Bruno. People who have experienced the same theme in their own families were quick to recognize the portrayal of unhealthy coping mechanisms and ostracism. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” topped charts worldwide, including the Billboard Hot 100. 

5. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” — The Lion King (1995)

The 1990s were jam-packed with amazing animated movie musicals. But The Lion King? You could call that the highlight of the decade. With so many fantastic songs throughout the film, choosing the best one feels herculean. The Lion King won awards galore, including one for the ballad “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” performed by none other than Elton John. With that kind of star power behind it, the soaring anthem was destined for greatness.

Photo: YouTube still from Disney’s The Lion King

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