Top Disney Love Songs: The Greatest Ballads
Since the earliest Disney movies, love songs set to romantic sequences have played a crucial role.
Since Disney’s earliest movies, love songs set to romantic sequences have been an essential part of the films. Here’s our pick of the best love songs from Disney.
Listen to a playlist of Disney’s greatest love songs.
Someday My Prince Will Come, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The first great Disney love song remains a standard to this day, having been covered by artists like Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Barbra Streisand, and Anastacia. It was written by composer Frank Churchill and lyricist Larry Morey and sung by the voice of Snow White, Adriana Caselotti. The swooning beauty of the song leaves Snow White’s audience of woodland creatures and her diminutive housemates dewy-eyed as the young girl sings about her wish to reunite with the prince, whom she has only met once. The song is reprised at the movie’s close, as Snow White and her prince ride off into the sunset.
He’s A Tramp, Lady And The Tramp (1955)
This playful and jazzy number, sung with plenty of sass by the great Peggy Lee (in character as a dog named Peg) is a love song with a twist – it’s a tribute to the roguish charms of a former partner. What’s more, the song helps the protagonist (Lady) recognize that she might have romantic feelings for the hound (Tramp) in question. The song became a firm favorite and made the American Film Institute’s AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Songs list of the top 100 songs in American cinema of the 20th century. It’s just one of Lee’s contributions to Lady And The Tramp, the singer-songwriter voiced four characters in total and co-wrote six songs for the film with Sonny Burke.
Once Upon A Dream, Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The sweeping romance of “Once Upon A Dream” was based on the “Grande Valse Villageoise” (or “The Garland Waltz”), from Tchaikovsky’s 1890 ballet The Sleeping Beauty. Composer George Bruns adapted the timeless melody, and lyricists Sammy Fain and Jack Lawrence sprinkled a little Disney magic on top. The result became one of Disney’s most beloved ballads, sung by Mary Costa as the young princess Aurora. After being cursed by the evil fairy Maleficent as a child, Aurora hides in the woods with the three good fairies – Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. We find Aurora on her 16th birthday, singing “Once Upon A Dream” to an audience of animals, unaware that the dashing Prince Phillip has overheard her and is immediately smitten.
Love, Robin Hood (1973)
There’s even room in the swashbuckling Robin Hood for some romance. “Love” is a bucolic ballad sung by Maid Marian (here voiced by Nancy Adams) to her sweetheart, the charming outlaw Robin Hood, who can be heard humming the melody earlier in the film. We see the two foxes canoodling by moonlight as the gentle song, written by George Bruns and Floyd Huddleston, reminds us of the power of love. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1974 Academy Awards, where it was performed by Jodie Foster and Johnny Whitaker.
Kiss The Girl, The Little Mermaid (1989)
Having made a deal with the sea witch Ursula, Ariel the mermaid has three days as a human to make the handsome Prince Eric fall in love with her. A major stumbling block for Ariel is that Ursula took her voice. Luckily, Ariel has a few friends to help her out – Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull, and Sebastian, a reggae-loving crab. Sebastian helps set the mood by crooning “Kiss The Girl,” a persuasive and sugar-sweet lover’s rock-style tune by Howard Ashman (lyrics) and Alan Menken (music). It nearly works, but the young lovers are interrupted at the last minute by Flotsam and Jetsam, a couple of slippery eels sent by Ursula.
A Whole New World, Aladdin (1992)
The romantic centerpiece of Disney’s early 90s smash hit Aladdin finds the hero of the movie winning the heart of Jasmine, the princess of Agrabah, by taking her on a magic carpet ride over her kingdom. Though she has all the riches she could ever need, Jasmine has never truly seen the “unbelievable sights” of the wider world. Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice’s blockbusting ballad was matched by the vocal talents of Brad Kane and Lea Salonga and it won the Oscar for Best Original Song, the Grammy for Song Of The Year, and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, among others.
Can You Feel The Love Tonight?, The Lion King (1994)
Elton John and Tim Rice’s stadium-sized ballad “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” was a massive hit in its own right, reaching No. 4 on the US Billboard chart, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and bagging John the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance. Yet in The Lion King, it’s a less straightforward and more interesting proposition – a song about friendships drifting apart and the uncertainty of young love, sung by four characters. It begins with Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog noticing that their pal Simba’s relationship with the young lioness Nala is rather more than just friendship… and realizing it could mean the end of their friendship as they know it. The second verse allows us to hear each of the adolescent lions’ inner thoughts. And the grandstanding chorus sounds as if all of the inhabitants of Pride Rock are singing in approval of the young love.
When She Loved Me, Toy Story 2 (1999)
Who knew that the emotions of toys could be so affecting? Randy Newman’s “When She Loved Me” spoke of the deep connection that Jessie, a toy cowgirl, felt with Emily, her original owner. Jessie recalls the sense of belonging that came from being needed (“When she was lonely, I was there to comfort her/And I knew that she loved me”), before remembering the sadness she felt as Emily grew up and drifted away. The third verse details the moment when Emily found Jessie while clearing out her childhood bedroom (“She smiled at me and held me just like she used to do/Like she loved me/When she loved me”), showing Newman’s mastery of bittersweet melancholy. Sarah McLachlan gave voice to Jessie’s memories with a heartbreaking vocal that had adults and children alike tearing up.
Hear Randy Newman discuss this song and more on Disney’s For Scores podcast series.
I See The Light, Tangled (2010)
For 18 years, Rapunzel had seen the annual lantern-lighting ceremony in the kingdom of Corona from the room in Mother Gothel’s tower in which she was imprisoned. When the dashing thief Flynn Rider takes refuge in Rapunzel’s tower, she blackmails him into taking her to see the ceremony for her 18th birthday. Along the way, the pair develop feelings for each other. The spectacular sequence when they arrive at the ceremony is soundtracked by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s beautiful and lilting ballad, sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.