Music has always been an essential part of the Disney formula. Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was released in 1937, almost every Disney movie has featured a song. And who doesn’t love Disney Songs?
Many of these songs have become iconic, garnering 42 nominations for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and 14 wins.
Related: Disney Removes Iconic “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” Song From Park
Disney’s musical success is not just limited to films and awards. They’ve also achieved chart success on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard for record sales in the United States. In other words, it is a great metric to tell which songs are the most popular in America.
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The most significant rule for this list is that the song has to be attached to some form of Disney property. So it counts as long as it comes from a Disney movie, show, or tv movie.
Also, Billboard Magazine started publishing the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1958; any song released before then won’t qualify for this ranking.
So let’s look at the 20 highest-charting Disney songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Get ready, Disney fans: this list will have tons of snubs and surprises.
Honorable Mention: “When You Wish Upon A Star” Dion & The Belmonts (No. 30, 1960)
“When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinocchio (1940) is one of the most iconic Disney songs of all time and is still used as a type of theme song for the company to this day. While the song was initially released before the Hot 100 even existed, it received that chance ten years later with Dion and The Belmonts.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t attached to a Disney movie or show, so it technically doesn’t qualify for a spot on this ranking. But it’s interesting nonetheless!
20. “Someday,” All-4-One, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (No. 30, 1996)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) is the most polarizing Disney film from the 90s. Some fans love it for its darker tone and songs like “Go the Distance” and “Hellfire.” Others hate it for those exact same reasons.
But the most popular song from this film was something neither side expected: an R&B power ballad about tolerance called “Someday.” It’s not what you’d expect from most Disney songs, but it does stick with you.
The charting version of “Someday” was recorded by the group All-4-One. It was their fourth and final song to chart, getting as high as No. 30 on the Hot 100 and No. 14 on Adult Contemporary.
19. “What Else Can I Do?” Diane Guerrero & Stephanie Beatriz, Encanto (No. 27, 2022)
People forget that Encanto (2021) wasn’t a huge hit when it was initially released in movie theaters, partially due to the pandemic. However, it became a success when it arrived on Disney+, and everyone started streaming the film from home.
Suddenly, Encanto was everywhere, which applied especially to the songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In total, seven songs from Encanto made it onto the Hot 100. The first to appear on this list is “What Can I Do?” a duet between Diane Guerrero and Stephanie Beatriz. In the song, Isabella (Guerrero) discovers that she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, allowing her to be herself and make mistakes.
The song reached No 27, higher than the Oscar-nominated “Dos Oruguitas” from the same movie.
18. “Go the Distance,” Michael Bolton, Hercules (No. 24, 1997)
If there is one type of song that Disney does well, it’s the hero’s power ballad. This is the song that the leading hero sings when they are about to go out on their journey and prove their worth.
In Hercules (1997), this moment occurs when Hercules leaves his mortal parent’s home to meet his birth father: Zeus. It’s a great song, and Tony-winner Roger Bart sings it very well.
Do you know who else nails power ballads? Michael Bolton. Some would argue that he is one of the best power ballad singers out there. His rendition of “Go the Distance” was popular enough to make it up to No. 24 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts.
“Go the Distance” was also nominated for an Academy Award but lost to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic (1997).
17. “You’ll Be in My Heart,” Phil Collins, Tarzan (No. 21, 1999)
Even though it isn’t a traditional musical, Tarzan (1999) has some incredible Disney songs, including “Strangers Like Me,” “Two Worlds,” and “Trashing the Camp.”
However, the biggest song to come out of the film was “You’ll Be In My Heart.” It appears in the movie when the gorilla Kala, played by Glenn Close, chooses to take care of the human baby Tarzan. It starts with Kala singing to the baby and is followed by Collins acting as a narrator, as he does for most of the other songs.
Since Phill Collins wrote the song, he also released it as a single. It did incredibly well, reaching No. 21 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts. “You’ll Be In My Heart” would chart in 16 other countries and win the Oscar for Best Original Song.
16. “The Family Madrigal,” Stephanie Beatriz, Olga Merediz & Encanto Cast, Encanto (No. 20, 2022)
Breaking us into the Top 20 is another song from Encanto. This time, it is the peppy and exhilarating opening number that introduces a few children (and the audience) to the Madrigal family.
“The Family Madrigal” is a wonderful uptempo vallenato tune that uses folk instrumentation to celebrate the Madrigals and their Colombian heritage while also heightening Mirabel Madrigal’s feelings of inadequacy regarding her lack of powers.
It also features a slower refrain sung by Olga Merediz as Mirabel’s Abuela that reflects her expectations and traditions.
“The Family Madrigal” reached all the way to No. 20 in the United States. It also reached No. 7 and No. 18 in the UK and Ireland, respectively.
15. “Circle of Life,” Elton John, The Lion King (No. 18, 1994)
The Lion King (1994) is the highest-grossing traditionally animated film of all time, so it only seems natural that it would have some iconic Disney songs on the Billboard chart.
The first song to appear from the film is the incredible opening number “Circle of Life,” which introduces the audience to this world of animals. However, the version sung by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M is not the one that made it onto the charts. That honor goes to Sir Elton John.
Elton John wrote the “Circle of Life” with Tim Rice, so it only makes sense that he would release it as a single. It would reach No. 18 on the Hot 100 and reached No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts. It also charted in 14 additional countries.
“Circle of Life” was also honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song and the Grammy award for Song of the Year. He lost both, the former to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and the latter to Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” from the film Philadelphia (1993).
14. “This is Me,” Demi Lovato & Joe Jonas, Camp Rock (No. 9, 2008)
90s kids will tell you that the 20th Century’s final decade was the best time for Disney regarding the quality of movies and music. However, a strong argument can be made for the 2000s, which features some of the most successful Disney songs ever. Take, for example, Camp Rock (2008).
Camp Rock is a Disney Channel Original Movie that featured Demi Lovato and The Jonas Brothers, two of the biggest pop acts today.
The most successful song to come out of Camp Rock was “This is Me,” a duet between Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas (even though it is advertised as just Lovato).
“This is Me” would reach No. 9 on the Hot 100, making it both artists’ first Top 10 single. It would go on to reach the Top 40 in 10 other countries.
13. “Beauty and the Beast,” Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson, Beauty and the Beast (No. 9, 1992)
Beauty and the Beast (1991) is easily one of Disney’s most important movies ever and re-established the company as a financial and critical powerhouse. However, it can be argued that the best part of the whole movie was when Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts sang the title song as Belle and Beast danced.
Unfortunately, that version did not make it onto the charts. Instead, the song was imagined as yet another power ballad sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. While Dion and Bryson don’t sound terrible, the digital accompaniment sounds more like a cheap karaoke track than an epic song about learning to love.
However, Celine Dion could do no wrong in the 90s, and “Beauty and the Beast” made it all the way to No. 9 on the Hot 100 and peaked at No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary charts.
The original film version won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson’s version also won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
12. “Let’s Get Together,” Hayley Mills & Hayley Mills, The Parent Trap (No. 8, 1961)
The oldest official Disney song on this list, “Let’s Get Together” appears in the original version of The Parent Trap (1961). The film tells the story of twins who were separated at birth and meet when they’re teenagers. They take this as an opportunity to try and get their parents together and hilarity ensues.
The twins, both played by Hayley Mills, sing this song together at a concert for their parents towards the end of the film, leading to a successful parental reunion.
“Let’s Get Together” would be released as a single with the artists cheekily listed as “Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills.” It would eventually reach No. 8 and is the highest-charting song written by The Sherman Brothers.
11. “Surface Pressure,” Jessica Darrow, Encanto (No. 8, 2022)
Of all the Encanto songs here, “Surface Pressure” is probably the most representative of writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, featuring his signature vocal rhythm and lots of onomatopoeia. It makes for a song that genuinely sounds like nothing else in the Disney catalog.
“Surface Pressure” also has the most unique perspective of any of the Disney songs on this list, focusing on how putting pressure on someone can cause their inner feelings to build up until they burst.
Also, it is a song written for a lower female voice. That’s something that is rarely seen anywhere, let alone in Disney songs.
“Surface Pressure” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and represented singer Jessica Darrow’s introduction into the Top 10. Not bad for her second movie.
10. “Life Is A Highway,” Rascal Flatts, Cars (No. 7, 2006)
Not every song on this list is original. When you’re building soundtracks for a movie every year, you’ll have to throw some covers in there. And when Disney had Rascal Flatts sing a cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway” for Cars (2006), they had a hit on their hands.
“Life is a Highway” may seem like an obvious coupling with a movie about sentient cars, but the subjects actually match up well. “Life is a Highway” is about how life can take some unexpected twists and turns, and that’s precisely what Lightning McQueen learns to handle.
Rascal Flatt’s cover charted nearly as high as the original, reaching No. 7 on the Hot 100. It was also voted “Favorite Song From a Movie” at the 33rd People’s Choice Awards.
9. “What Time Is It?” High School Musical 2 Cast, High School Musical 2 (No. 6, 2007)
Like it or not, the High School Musical series has proven to be one of Disney’s most lucrative franchises and home to some of its catchiest tunes, including “Get’cha Head in the Game” and “We’re All in This Together.”
One of the catchiest songs in the series is the opening number from High School Musical 2 (2007), “What Time Is It?” It features the entire ensemble singing, dancing, and dribbling basketballs to celebrate Summer break, something Disney fans of all ages can appreciate.
“What Time Is It?” peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100 and reached the top on the Billboard Hot Singles chart.
8. “Let It Go,” Idina Menzel, Frozen (No. 5, 2014)
Here it is. The song that echoed out of minivans and SUVs in the latter half of the 2010s. “Let It Go” from Frozen (2013) was the most popular Disney song for little girls since “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid (1989).
It really felt like “Let It Go” was everywhere, so it’s pretty surprising that it only reached No. 5 on the Hot 100. However, it did go 8x Platinum and was eventually the fifth best-selling song of 2013.
Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who became an EGOT for this song, tried to repeat the success again with “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II (2019), but it never reached the same heights.
“Let It Go” won an Oscar, a Grammy, and was the second time a Tony winner (Idina Menzel) broke into the Top 10. We’ll get to the first one later.
7. “Breaking Free,” Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens, High School Musical (No. 4, 2006)
The first song that comes into people’s heads for High School Musical (2006) is “We’re All in This Together.” However, that only reached No. 34 on the charts, which isn’t high enough to qualify for this list.
Instead, more listeners preferred the climactic love ballad “Breaking Free” by Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. It comes into the movie when Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Hudgens) decide to leave their athletic and academic pursuits respectively, and live their secret dream of performing in a musical.
The plot is incredibly cheesy, but the song is sweet and sung well by both artists. It eventually reached No. 4 on the Hot 100.
6. “Colors of the Wind,” Vanessa Williams, Pocahontas (No. 4, 1995)
Pocahontas (1995) may be considered a misstep nowadays; no one can deny that the movie has gorgeous animation and many classic Disney songs. The best of these songs was, without a doubt, “Colors of the Wind.”
“Colors of the Wind” reflects many of the movie’s messages, including being in touch with the world around you and respecting others.
Whether you’re looking at the film version or the cheesy pop version, “Colors of the Wind” has a lot of talent behind it. In the movie, it is sung by four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn while Tony winner Vanessa Williams sang the single.
“Colors of the Wind” peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100, making it the first song performed by a Tony winner to do so, and it received numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe, a Grammy, and the Oscar for Best Original Song.
5. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Elton John, The Lion King (No. 4, 1994)
The Lion King (1994) features many classic Disney songs, including “Hakuna Matata” and the previously mentioned “Circle of Life.” However, none have had the same cultural impact as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
While the movie version serves as a beautiful moment where Simba and Nala fall in love as Timone and Pumbaa watch (weird), the single sung by Elton John is the type of performance that only he can deliver. And apparently, everyone at the time agreed.
“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 and charted in an additional 17 countries. It also received numerous awards, including the Oscar for Best Original Song and the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for Elton John.
Fun fact: the single features Gary Barlow, Kiki Dee, and Rick Astley on background vocals.
4. “The Climb,” Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana: The Movie (No. 4, 2009)
Miley Cyrus is now one of the biggest pop stars today and has had multiple songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including two No. 1 hits.
However, Cyrus got her start as the titular character of the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana (2006-2011). She played a teen girl named Miley, who was secretly the pop star Hannah Montana.
Hannah Montana was incredibly popular and eventually got a movie aptly titled Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009). Naturally, the film had a single that did incredibly well called “The Climb.”
“The Climb” combines pop and country elements to represent both real life and film Miley’s relationship with both genres and how she wanted to be successful on her own terms. It was a perfect match and resulted in a single that peaked at No. 4 on the charts.
3. “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme),” Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle, Aladdin (No. 1, 1993)
Of all the artists to appear twice on this list, you probably didn’t expect Peabo Bryson to be one of them. This time, he isn’t singing with Celine Dion. Instead, he’s with singer-songwriter Regina Belle. The other big difference is that these two went straight to No. 1.
Disney’s first No. 1 single was the pop version of “A Whole New World” from Aladdin (1992). In the movie, this is when Aladdin and Jasmine fall in love and soar around the world on the magic carpet.
This time, the synthesized music is nearly as startling. Also, Bryson and Belle sound fantastic together. While I think most people prefer the version from the movie, this is still a great interpretation. It also gets a sick guitar solo in the middle! That’s always a great addition to any song.
“A Whole New World” didn’t just reach No. 1 in the United States; it also placed on four additional Billboard charts as well as ten other countries. It would go on to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and two Grammys, including Song of the Year. It is still the only Disney song to do so.
2. “All For Love” Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, & Sting, The Three Musketeers (No. 1, 1993)
Now for the most confusing entry on this list, especially since no one remembers this song or the movie it came from.
It was written for Disney’s The Three Musketeers (1993): a live-action film with an impressive cast. Seriously, it stars Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, Oliver Platt, Tim Curry, and Rebecca De Mornay. The film was received poorly, with the only thing of note being Tim Curry’s performance as Cardinal Richelieu because the man is a treasure.
However, The Three Musketeers had a song play over the credits that was just as packed with names as the movie: Brian Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting. That’s right; there was no chance this song wouldn’t be an epic 90s power ballad.
Audiences loved the song, leading it to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in 12 other countries. It even reached No. 1 for all of Europe, leaving other Disney Songs in the dust.
“All For Love” is a hilariously cheesy power ballad from a forgettable movie. But in 1993, everyone was all in for “All For Love.”
1. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto Cast, Encanto (No. 1, 2022)
Here it is: the best charting Disney song of all time. It only makes sense that we return to Encanto. Every song from the movie hit the Hot 100 at some point, but nothing reached the same levels as “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.”
“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” stands out from every other Disney song on this list on numerous fronts. First of all, it’s not a big sappy ballad. Countless Disney songs that chart or get recognition or either love songs or sickeningly hopeful.
Second, it gives almost every member of the Madrigal family a chance to shine. Each one has a different melody, but they all come together in the end. It reflects how the family functions well together despite being so different.
Everyone except for Bruno that is. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” takes after the tradition of villain songs by building up the character’s evil. Except for this time, it’s all hearsay, and Bruno doesn’t even participate.
Most importantly, the song is just plain fun, and when it was released at the height of the pandemic, it was what everyone needed.
“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” stayed at the top of the Hot 100 for five weeks. While it was never nominated for any major awards, something Lin-Manuel Miranda is probably kicking himself for, it did chart in 21 other countries and even reached No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200.
Therefore, according to Billboard’s rankings, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is the Walt Disney Company’s best song of all time.
So what did you think of this ranking? What classic Disney songs do you think should have charted higher? Let us know in the comments below.