The Disney Channel’s Best In-Universe Songs, Ranked

in Disney, Television

Raven-Symoné Disney Channel

Credit: The Disney Channel

In 1937, a historic milestone was achieved by Walt Disney Pictures with the debut of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. This event marked the inaugural release of a full-length animated feature film for The Walt Disney Company, sparking a revolutionary transformation in the animation sector. This accomplishment not only solidified Disney’s status as a trailblazer in storytelling and unparalleled artistry but also laid the foundation for a century of influencing generations with their unique brand of nostalgia.

Disney Channel Logo and Old Shows
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: The Most Dysfunctional Disney Families, Ranked

Today, Disney offers a wide range of content, from superhero epics in Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to captivating space opera adventures in Lucasfilm’s Star Wars. They also retain the groundbreaking Avatar series by James Cameron and the innovative 3D animation world of Pixar Animation Studios. Their impressive collection includes beloved classics like The Little Mermaid (1989), The Lion King (1994), Beauty and the Beast (1992), and Frozen (2013), which have enchanted audiences across generations.

Walt Disney with Mickeys
Credit: D23

Disney’s influence reaches its globally acclaimed theme parks, spanning from the first Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida (home to Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios), along with Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

But perhaps there is nothing as iconic or nostalgic to a certain breed of Disney-lovers than the sweet promise of a mindless Disney Channel television show after a long day of school, or enjoyed on lazy weekends.

The Disney Channel: A History

This channel all but defined the 1990s and early 2000s.

Disney's 80s logo
Credit: DAPS MAGIC

The journey began in the 1950s with Christmas specials and the show The Wonderful World of Disney, which aired from 1954 to 2008. Originally known as Walt Disney’s Disneyland (1954–1958) and later as Walt Disney Presents (1958–1961), this show was important for Disney’s TV ventures. As fate would have it in November 1984, CEO Michael Eisner established the Walt Disney Television Animation department, marking Disney’s start in animated TV production.

The Disney Channel, once the flagship subscription TV property of Disney Branded Television, brought popular shows and series like High School Musical, Johnny Tsunami, Hannah Montana, and Wizards of Waverly Place to young audiences — eventually making stars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez famous.

Zac Efron in High School Musical
Credit: Disney Channel

Related: The Best Disney TV Theme Songs, Ranked

Gaining immense popularity with younger viewers, Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) remained successful even into the 2010s and beyond. Yet, their significance waned as Disney+ (Disney Plus) on-demand streaming service emerged, and the focus moved away from traditional cable TV.

What is a Disney Channel TV show?

dolly parton
Credit: Disney Channel

A Disney Channel TV show, for the purposes of this ranking, will refer strictly to the television shows that came about as a result of the Disney Channel. Naturally, this will center around the golden era of this platform, which tends to fall in that 2000s period. Animated and live-action will both count!

This also means that movies spawned from Disney TV shows don’t count, DCOM or otherwise. Or else we’d have to create an entire section for Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and its spinoffs. Nor will TV shows that came from movies count — sorry Disney Darling Alan Menken and his music from the Tangled spinoff TV series!

Dan Benson as Zeke Beakerman talks to Selena Gomez (Alex Russo) and Jennifer Stone (Harper Finkle) on Wizards of Waverly Place.
Credit: Disney Channel

Why these strict guidelines? Because arbitrary parameters can add to the fun. Also because we’d otherwise be here forever!

How do we define an in-universe song?

So what is “in-universe”? Well, it refers to music that exists purely within the “universe” of these TV shows. This is not referring to theme songs, that live in a sort of “out-of-universe” space. We’re looking for music that actually is acknowledged by the characters of the world as existing within that world.

Ranking the Best Disney Channel Television Songs (In-Universe)

This will move in reverse order — that is to say, from “worst” to “best”.

We’re going to start off with a song to whet the appetite — although it is a song that cannot technically reside in this ranking, for it does not come exactly from a Disney Channel show but a Disney Channel Original Movie (which we are excluding). Sort of. Because this next song would typically get an extremely high grading in this list, but unfortunately has to get a special mention. However it is by definition top notch — and made of the stuff that… well, dreams are made of.

Special Mention: “What Dreams Are Made Of” — The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)

This song gets a very special ranking because it for all intents and purposes was a song from the TV show. It just wasn’t technically. Let’s say this song would slide happily between that Phineas and Ferb tune and the iconic Kim Possible rap.

Now, onto the real ranking!

9. “The Best of Both Worlds” — Hannah Montana (2006)

First up, we have the ever-iconic Hannah Montana bop, “The Best of Both Worlds”, that also features as a real-life tune in the universe of the show. Its infectious melody is deliberately crafted to have perhaps the most tween-relatable lyrics, and it also boasts seamless integration into the show’s storyline. As well as also conveniently being the theme song? It’s a little bit too perfect.

It perfectly encapsulates the dual life of the main character, Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus), as she navigates the challenges of being a regular teenager while secretly living the life of a pop star. The song’s catchy chorus and the way it captures the central theme of the series make it a well-known addition to the Disney Channel’s musical repertoire. Yes, musical repertoire.

8. “We Went to the Moon in 1969” — Even Stevens (2002)

Okay. This one is a classic oddball, and you’re probably thinking: how is this eighth on the list?

Well, because we’ve got some absolute bangers coming up, naturally.

“We Went to the Moon in 1969” is still one of those bangers though, no doubt about it. With a catchy refrain, that never stops refraining, this educational romp by Christy Carlson Romano’s Ren Stevens teaches you one thing particularly well. And one thing, only.

7. “Boyz N Motion” — That’s So Raven (2003)

That’s So Raven had some of the best in-universe hits of all Disney Channel history!

Who can forget the Backstreet Boys/N*SYNC lookalikes, the Boyz N Motion? With every single tune of theirs catchy to the extreme, you’ll be jumping up of your seat and singing “yes”, in a heartbeat. The Boyz are ready to give you all of their devotion, after all.

6. “Shine” — That’s So Raven (2004)

Or pretty much, this entire episode.

Raven-Symoné drops a Cheetah Girls-esque girl power pop number here, in the middle of a cafeteria, no less. Clearly, the premise of this episode was to show off the ridiculously talented cast, with the plot centering around the high school characters going all out to impress a new janitor at their school, which they believe to be an undercover talent scout.

There is something hauntingly beautiful about Anneliese van der Pol’s “Alone In The Hallways”, clearly designed to show off the actor’s Broadway chops. Yes, these are definitely high schoolers, not 30 year-olds with musical theater degrees!

5. “Ain’t Got Rhythm” — Phineas and Ferb (2007)

 

It’s no Robbie Rotten, but “Ain’t Got Rhythm” has definitely earned itself it’s fare share of internet love.

A song sung by Phineas Flynn (Vincent Martella) and Sherman AKA Swampy from the defunct 1980s hair band Love Händel, this tune grows from a simple rhythm from a joyless Tri-State Area librarian into one of the show’s most bombastic, fun songs.

4. “Taking Over Midnight” — Gravity Falls (2012)

One of the most iconic Gravity Falls family moments, and it comes with one of the catchiest tunes from the show ever — bar perhaps the show’s ABBA parody, “Disco Girl”, of course. “Taking Over Midnight” by in-show musical act &NDRA clearly parodies the 1983 Cyndi Lauper hit, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in the most campy, 80s-inspired way.

Although this song comes with a rather touching (albeit gross) scene starring Dipper Pines, Mabel Pines, and Grunkle Stan (AKA Love Patrol Alpha) as defeating zombies through the power of familial love and grating pop.

3. “Gitchee Gitchee Goo” — Phineas and Ferb (2007)

“I’m Phineas and this is Ferb and we’re gonna sing a song.”

Nothing much can be said about this one. It’s just extremely, ridiculously catchy, and they absolutely sung that song.

It is the defining song of the in-universe one hit wonder group Phineas and the Ferb-Tones. With its meaningless lyrics, this song essentially defines “bop”.

As the animated Phineas and Candace Flynn (voiced by Ashley Tisdale) croon, all that “Gitchee Gitchee Goo” means is that “I love you”.

2. “Naked Mole Rap” — Kim Possible (2003)

The “Naked Mole Rap” from Kim Possible can’t be beat. It’s far too iconic. And it tells a story, like the country music hits of yore. Except in gorgeously cheesy (literally) “rap” fashion. Will Friedle’s Ron Stoppable simply cannot be stopped when it comes to hyping up his naked mole rat buddy, Rufus. He will scream his love from the rooftops. He will compose an improvised, freestyle rap number with accompanied mole rat-scatting. And use that to defeat his best friend (and future romantic partner) Kim Possible’s arch-nemesis, Doctor Drakken in a talent contest.

“Can I get a boo-yah?”

1. “Bring Victor Back” — That’s So Raven (2004)

This moment kind of goes down in Disney Channel history for a reason.

One must view the video above to prep yourself for the unbridled joy that is the seemingly improvised “Bring Victor Back”, from That’s So Raven. In this scene, Raven Baxter’s dad Victor Baxter (Rondell Sheridan) loses his job as head chef at Augustine’s and Raven and her friends Chelsea Grayson (Anneliese van der Pol), Eddie Thomas (Orlando Brown), and brother Cory Baxter (Kyle Massey) band together to convince boss Mr. Briggs to “Please, Bring Victor Back”. To the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

Songs from television shows like those on the Disney Channel will live forever in the cultural consciousness as relics from a very specific time. Before the dawn of the internet proper, kids had Liz Anya to talk about at school. And laugh about and badly recreate with their friends. These iconic musical acts will also live on as YouTube clips of varying quality. But it will always leave you with maybe the most fundamental question of all time: do you carry a lunchbox?

Do you agree with our ranking of Disney Channel’s best in-universe songs? Is there anything we missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

in Disney, Television

Comments Off on The Disney Channel’s Best In-Universe Songs, Ranked