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by Ken Pellman (archives)
June 28, 2004
Ken talks about the AFI Top 100 Film Songs of All Tmie and his favorite songs.

Kenversations™ - Music to Our Mouse Ears

As you surely saw in the headlines on this website, the American Film Institute came up with a list of 100 top film songs of all time. The problem with these kinds of lists is that there are bound to be some greats left off of the final list, like the theme from "Howard the Duck".

No, I don't really think that was a great film song.

The list has some songs from some classic Disney films, of course:

7. When You Wish Upon A Star "PINOCCHIO" (1940)
19. Some Day My Prince Will Come "SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS" (1937)
36. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious "MARY POPPINS" (1964)
47. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah "SONG OF THE SOUTH" (1947)
62. Beauty and the Beast "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" (1991)
99. Hakuna Matata "THE LION KING" (1994)

Since only six Disney songs made the list, there were many, many great Disney songs that didn't make it - such songs touch our heart, bring back memories, get us humming, or make us smile.

For examples:

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Whistle While You Work
Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life For Me)
I've Got No Strings
Baby Mine
Love is Song
Little April Shower
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes
Once Upon a Dream
The Unbirthday Song
The Second Star to the Right
Once Upon a Dream
Cruella De Vil
(Insert the entire "Mary Poppins" soundtrack here.)
The Bare Necessities
I Wan'na Be Like You
Part of Your World
Under the Sea
Be Our Guest
Friend Like Me
A Whole New World
Circle of Life
Can You Feel the Love Tonight
Colors of the Wind
G-d Help the Outcasts
Go the Distance
Strangers Like Me

The scores of the films are just as important as the songs with lyrics, particularly in "Fantasia", but AFI was focusing on songs people like to sing or sing a along to.

Among my stacks of classic rock CDs, film scores, and "Weird Al" Yankovic Al-bums are many, many Disney CDs.

Why? Because I’m a freak...I mean, I have every Yankovic Al-bum after all. No, wait. I need a better reason than that. Let’s try “Because they tell compelling stories.? It doesn’t hurt that many of them are catchy and I associate them with my happy childhood as well as my favorite hangout (that would be Disneyland).

Songs have traditionally been very important to Disney pictures, especially the animated ones. The Disneys even formed a music company so that Walt Disney Productions would have access to the songs, since song usage rights can be a complicated issue.

Of the early films, the music from "Pinocchio" is by far my favorite. I could listen to the soundtrack over and over and never tire of it. The lyrics are catchy, and I like everything from the voice acting to the arrangements.

In the 1960s, Richard and Robert Sherman pulled off a masterpiece with their work on "Mary Poppins". It was so good and became such a widespread pop culture achievement that The Simpsons was able to pull off an episode-long parody a few decades later. One of my favorite stories about anything Disney is how Walt Disney would call the Shermans into his office in the afternoon, chat a bit, and then ask them to play "Feed the Birds" as he stared out the window. I love hearing that story from the mouths of the men who were there.

In more recent times, lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken were part of Disney's failed attempt to revive the live action musical with "Newsies", but they found plenty of success by making great music for animated features such as "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Aladdin" before Ashman passed away and Tim Rice stepped in to complete the music for "Aladdin".

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