As in Disney Animated movies, not Pixar. Yes, there’s a difference.
10. “Perfect World” The Emperor’s New Groove
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=uT4ySwoh27Q.
Yes, David Spade’s beginning bit was hilarious, but this opening is all about Sir Tom Jones. Like damn, his voice is the epitome of what a title sequence singer should sound like.
But that river dancing though. “Boom, baby.”
9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=BuX_80L95UQ.
One of the most underrated Disney movies, Atlantis starts off with one of those “WTF is going on, but this movie looks really cool” moments.
I mean, right from the get-go it starts with a quote from Plato and you’re like, holy crap Atlantis is real?
And then Kida’s mother, like floats in the air with those eyes and there are these blue glowing portals that surround the island, just for the tide to crash unto the city.
And then cue in some weird inscription fading onto the screen, only to reveal that it reads “Atlantis.” Mind absolutely blown.
All in a matter of two minutes.
8. “He Mele No Lilo” Lilo & Stitch
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=HuDeQ4nQf7s.
Not only does the song introduce the film with native music and graphics wishing you were in Hawaii right now, but just the fact that a bad-ass six-year-old or however-old girl is swimming along fish in the ocean by herself and then she proceeds to take a picture of a sunburn man with an ice cream cone, even though she’s late to her practice, and you’re thinking how much you want to be like Lilo.
7. “Steady as the Beating Drum” Pocahontas
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_dqHMbl9j3E.
With its stunning perspective shots into early America as well as the catchy Native American tune, Pocahontas is one of the more beautifully graphic title sequences on this list.
Like, everyone here is so happy that you wish you could hang out with them for awhile. And you can’t help but smile when the women race to meet their loved ones who have just reached ashore.
6. The Little Mermaid
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=t6UUpvSRYV4.
If you watch the video, the title sequence doesn’t officially start until 1:55; but it’s pretty epic nonetheless. Along with Pocahontas, the Little Mermaid starts off with perspective shots, but this time of the ocean. And you can’t help but wish you were there personally to see the marine life.
Cue in epic build-up choir music. There are mermaids emerging from the left side of the screen, and you’re like “Whoa mermaids?!” (I mean, along those lines.) And then they reveal that they’re swimming to a bright, glowing palace, Atlantica. Like holy crap, this is only an animated movie?
5. “Two Worlds One Family” Tarzan
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=x3u1_181N7g.
More like: Two Words. Phil Collins. I never actually knew or understood how great Phil Collins was until I watched this movie as a kid.
The song perfectly captures the concept of bringing together two very different perspectives, but sharing the essence of a “family.” Like how genius it is to show the contrast between Kala and Kerchak losing their son while Tarzan loses his parents. And all from the same antagonist, Sabor. I mean, the movie hasn’t even started and I’m already tearing up.
4. The Beauty & the Beast
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=__x8CYAVMbk.
Cue in epic Disney piano title sequence music, and a zoom-in shot of castle.
This title sequence encompasses all the elements of a traditional Disney opening, including vintage-looking graphics (stained glass windows), a deep-voiced man narration, and the infamous “Once upon a time…”But unlike the others, The Beauty & the Beast warns its viewers of how dark it is just by what the deep-voiced man says: “For who could ever learn to love. A beast.”
Cue in lightning shots and thunder sounds. Zoom-out shot of castle.
The perfect segway into “Little town…it’s a quiet village..”
3. “The Gospel Truth” Hercules
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=IEQbie-uI9o.
Honestly, the Muses make this movie. And to twist tradition, the Muses narrate the story, but into a catchy Gospel, hand-clapping tune. Oh, and to make it more perfect, the sung “Ahs” and the “Heys” after the song creates the perfect build-up to a zoom-in shot of Mount Olympus.
You go, girls.
2. “Circle of Life” The Lion King
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=HwSKkKrUzUk.
Probably one of the most iconic Disney movies, and one of the most popular movies people like to post on their Tumblrs about ’90s nostalgia.
The “Circle of Life” includes that beginning chant no one can understand, the misunderstanding that all animals attend a lion cub christening, as well as that epic flute solo mid-way through the song.
Elton John and Tim Rice were the great masterminds to produce this song that embraced the African culture, as well as successfully introduce the movie. And it doesn’t hurt that Carmen Twillie’s voice is like butter-smooth. Which is all the more reason for “Circle of Life” to take the #2 spot.
1. “The Bells of Notre Dame” The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=D8e8aKFY1VI.
Yes, I do realize how iconic the “Circle of Life” is and how Mufasa’s death scarred many childhoods.
But let’s break it down.
1. In the first eight seconds, we hear the choir singing a foreshadow into Frollo’s song “Hellfire” which rightfully introduces the villain.
2. That epic choir-build up. Like everywhere. I mean unlike the other build-ups, this choir sings lyrics like “Dies Irae” which literally means, “Day of Wrath.”
(Wait. Can we just take a minute to realize that Quasimodo is a ginger, when his parents are brown-skinned? Disney logic.)
3. Skip to 3:00. Only Paul Kandel can rightfully hit those high notes.