Is there anywhere in the Disney parks where music does not play an important part? I’m not sure there is. Sure, we can think of some places where there’s no real soundtrack…but even then, chances are that we’ve heard ambient music on our way there, which has set the stage.
And of course, it’s not just the parks. There are tremendous synergies between the music in the parks, and the vast treasure of Disney music recorded for various media outlet over the years. And while not every song is a gem (hello, Substitutiary Locomotion?), there are truly some wonderful songs and amazing performances. So, with that rich history in mind, here are my current top five favorite Disney songs of all time (with, of course, the caveat that I am a fickle girl, and may well have different opinions if you ask me again in a month).
5: What, No Mickey Mouse?, performed by Phil Harris
You can find this track on the Walt Disney Archives Collection, Vol 1. Gotta love the swing, the schmaltz, the period-piece lyrics that date back to 1932, but were slightly updated for this 1974 cover. Yeah baby, "let's give Nixon's house to that slicky wacky wicky tacky tricky Mickey Mouse!"
4: Baby Mine, soundtrack version
Well, at least I think I like this track. I'm usually weeping too loudly to hear the whole thing.
3: The Magic Song (Bibbidi Bobbity Boo), as performed by Mary Martin
Another one from the Walt Disney Archives Collection, Vol 1. And also definitely a period piece: Nobody produces tracks quite like this anymore. The opening chords make you swoon, and then she swings like nobody's business.
2: Baroque Hoedown, original version
This was perhaps the toughest call on my list, actually. The song itself was easy to choose: This is the happiest piece of Disney music, hands-down. But how can I choose between the nostalgic appeal of the original, and the geek-cred hipness of the They Might Be Giants cover version? Ultimately it comes down to childhood nostalgia for me, coupled with the recent memory of watching the Electrical Parade at Disney’s California Adventure two days after my fortieth birthday, after celebrating with a day all to myself in the parks. I felt like a kid all over again…and was also excited that the rest of my family would fly in to join me the next evening.
1: When You Wish Upon a Star, soundtrack version
What can I say, I'm a traditionalist! Though I did briefly whether I might prefer the Chipmunks version, from the album When You Wish Upon a Chipmunk. It's embarrassing, though. Those squirrelley little voices sing, "Fate is kind, she brings to those who love the sweet fulfillment of their secret longing," and there I am weeping like Dumbo's finally got his mom back.