The Seven BEST Disney Princess Songs Ever Made

in Disney, Movies & TV

Ralph Breaks The Internet Vanellope and Disney Princesses

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The Walt Disney Company’s first-ever full-length animated feature film, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937) changed the game with its ground-breaking animation and gave the then-struggling company its legs for years to come. The Disney legacy is therefore essentially built on the “Disney Princess movie” as a concept — and the legacy lives on to this day. Not only are the Princess face characters some of the most sought-after Cast Member experiences in Disney Parks all around the globe, but playing a simple melody from some of these Disney Princess songs is enough to transport many straight back to their childhoods. That’s some unbeatable cultural capital, right there.

Define: “Disney Princess”

Well, they’ve got to have an animal sidekick, right?

sebastian the little mermaid
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Related: Disney Princess Changed to Be More Relatable

Honestly, the most definitive thing about Disney Princesses — apart from them being from a Disney animated feature — is that they encompass the right “spirit”. It’s that spirit of “wanting more” than their situations allow them, daring to step forward and make a change, and willing to go to great lengths to do so. Sea-Witch deals, defying authority, and working hard for their dreams all count!

They don’t need to be royalty, per se, (hint: a fair number of them never get close to a crown) but they need to have a particular kind of spark. Call it naivete, or call it a special brand of Disney gumption.

How do we decide “the best”?

Tiana, Merida and Cinderella ready for Princess week at disneyland paris header
Credit: Disney

Related: New Disney Princess Experience Debuts at Walt Disney World

We’re not necessarily looking at who won “Best Original Song” here — but mainly if they drive home the Princesses’ wants, desires, ambitions, or emotions. Something that encapsulates who they are, and pushes the boundaries of their story. “The best” could easily be the catchiest, or most effective, or the most evocative. Perhaps all of the above.

Now, let’s rank them!

Ranking the Best Disney Princess songs

7. “Almost There” — Princess and the Frog (2009)

“People gon’ come here from everywhere!”

waitress tiana in the princess and the frog
Credit: Disney

Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana just doesn’t have time for dancin’!

This spunky little number from The Princess and the Frog is an unforgettably fun song from an often underrated Disney animated movie. Here, Tiana proclaims her dream of starting up her dream restaurant (and also fulfilling her late father’s dream of feeding the community) from the literal rafters of the rundown building that she wants to turn into Tiana’s Palace.

It’s a ridiculously fun song that dips into a markedly different art style, which adds to the New Orleans, 1920s “deco” vibe of the period! Rose’s smooth vocals add a lot of punch to this hard-working princess, and marks a bittersweet farewell to Walt Disney Pictures Animation’s final 2D project.

6. “When Will My Life Begin?” — Tangled (2010)

“Seven a.m., the usual morning line-up!”

rapunzel leaning on tower window
Credit: Disney

Mandy Moore as Rapunzel croons sweetly in Tangled‘s (2010) opening number, and her lilting voice is the first thing you hear after the title card. It effectively sets the stage for a tale of teenage rebellion — and a surprisingly swashbuckling adventure filled with action, magic, secrets, good-looking thieves and emotional abuse! The song definitely lays down the tone of the film and sets the scene — Tangled‘s protagonist is a starry-eyed youth with big dreams of seeing lanterns on her birthday. As a character, the audience learns that she’s highly creative (I mean pottery, ventriloquy AND candle-making?) astonishingly optimistic, and most importantly, bored.

This fun opening ditty allows its stream-of-consciousness lyrics to flow just as the animated Rapunzel does — flitting about her Tower before Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) can call for her to “let down her hair”, or Flynn Ryder/Eugene Fitzherbert (Zachary Levi) can steal into her quarters. With a rather modern jangling guitar and a melody oozing with perfectly Princess-y pop charm, this Disney Princess song stands as another iconic number from Disney Legend Alan Menken.

5. “How Far I’ll Go” — Moana (2016)

“I’ve been staring at the edge of the water, long as I can remember, never really knowing why.”

moana with ocean
Credit: Disney

Another fantastic Disney tune from the well-known and basically Disney darling, Lin Manuel-Miranda!

Auli’i Cravalho’s strong yet emotive voice strikes true in this definitive “I Want” song. She’s been longing for the ocean all her life, and her family have been trying to keep her from it for about as long. She feels conflicted, and can’t seem to look away — and it’s only when she gives in to that calling that the mystery unravels and she learns to embody her potential.

It’s brilliant foreshadowing wrapped up in a catchy melody underpinned with a Polynesian-inspired rhythm that grows as Moana’s emotion does!

4. “Belle” / “Belle (reprise)” — Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Can we consider both of them the same song?

Belle Reading a Book
Credit: Disney

“Bonjour!”

Belle’s (Paige O’Hara) journey into her poor provincial town will forever be an iconic staple of Disney canon. O’Hara’s voice rings with clarity and a sort of maturity — she’s a dreamer, first and foremost. The practical people of her town (and Gaston) find her strange for being airheaded and distracted — and despite her polite greetings, she’s shunned as an outcast for simply being a bit “weird”. The sheer joy with which Belle relates the stories she reads in books to her listening sheep friends is something iconic to behold and sparking with Disney magic. You can basically hear O’Hara smiling in the vocal booth!

And the reprise — which essentially continues the tune to its inevitable conclusion — really encompasses Belle as a character. She “wants so much more than they’ve got planned”, and it foreshadows perfectly how she gets everything she desires… though perhaps not in the way she imagined. Composer Alan Menken — and very importantly, lyricist Howard Ashman’s — work is stunningly apparent here, in one of his final projects before his passing.

3. “Reflection” — Mulan (1997)

“When will my reflection show, who I am inside?”

Mulan Reflection leaning on Dragon Statue
Credit: Disney

This song hits hard in a multitude of ways — it’s an exploration of Mulan and her familial duties, the sort of filial piety expected of her culture and society, her role as a woman, all warring with her morals, dreams and love for her family. That very love for her family puts her at odds with herself — and she’s expressing that conflict through the most heart-wrenching melody.

Lea Salonga takes this song to new heights with her clear, crisp vocals, and the longing emotion in her voice. That moment of her bowing to her ancestors, face half-full of makeup, is one of the starkest and most powerful images in Disney history. “Family, love, and self” is Mulan’s plight. And this moment makes her final decision rings even truer in the next few scenes, when she makes the decision (spoilers) to leave for the army, under her father’s name.

2. “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” — Cinderella (1950)

“‘Cause if you tell a wish, it won’t come true!”

Cinderella in bed with bird friends
Credit: Disney

This soft, swaying melody stands at number two, with Ilene Woods’ beautifully round-yet-innocent sounding voice creating one of the most time-resistant tunes The Walt Disney Company have ever made. The song is simple in its premise — with Cinderella in conversation with her bird friends — wishing and hoping for a better tomorrow, in classic Disney fashion.

Many see this as a ditzy, “look pretty and do nothing” sort of song, but it harkens to the sort of “never say never” attitude employed by Walt Disney himself. Dreaming big (and it’s implied, moving towards it) brings you inevitably to your goal — but it’s about maintaining that hope that’s crucial to making those dreams come true. It’s a simple song, with an effective message.

When you’re asleep, your innermost desires come to light — giving up on those dreams will never take you closer to happiness.

1. “Part of Your World” — The Little Mermaid (1989)

The icon that began a Disney Renaissance.

Ariel The Little Mermaid Part of Your World
Credit: Disney

“Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?”

The beautifully animated, wonderfully sung and spectacularly composed Disney Princess aria from 1989’s The Little Mermaid defined decades for The Walt Disney Company — and it’s largely thanks to two bright-eyed guys working at Disney, at a time when the company wasn’t doing all too great.

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken are pretty much the geniuses behind Ariel and her voice — with the late Ashman being insistent on the song transitioning naturally from speech into music, growing organically along the old musical theater adage: “when emotions are too much for words, sing; and when emotions are too much for music, dance.” “Part of Your World” takes audiences on a gorgeous ramping-up of emotion and Ariel’s yearning for the surface world — paired with the stunning animation that rocked the industry, this song takes first place due to its pure narrative expressivity. Arguably, the best song of the Disney Princess bunch.

There are iconic clips of Jodi Benson, Ariel’s voice actress, having to do multiple takes at Ashman and Menken’s to shift the tone of her voice from “Broadway-level projection” to soft, introspective, and personal in “Part of Your World”. In his words, “every little breath you take is enormous”. It’s a masterclass in directed storytelling, and has rarely been topped since.

Civilizations may rise and fall, but Disney Princesses will always be here… as long as there are people to perceive them. And sing along.

Honorary mention goes to “Once Upon a Dream” from 1959’s Sleeping Beauty — though because it can be considered a couple’s duet between Princess Aurora/Briar Rose (Mary Costa) and Disney Prince Phillip (Bill Shirley), we’ve skipped it for this list.

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best ever Disney Princess tunes, and had fun humming (or full-out belting) along with us.

So, what did you think of this list ranking the best Disney Princess songs ever made? Was there something we missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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