Which of Disney’s animated classics feature the most country inspired songs?
Disney’s animated movies have always featured some incredible music and the most popular artists of the day. It used to be you could find the likes of Louis Prima, Peggy Lee, and Pearl Bailey, three of history’s most successful jazz musicians, singing for Disney.
These days you’re as likely to hear Weezer on a Disney soundtrack as you are Randy Newman. Ok, maybe you’re more likely to hear Randy Newman, but Disney has always been heavily pop-oriented.
That begs the question: when has Disney stepped outside their pop comfort zone and gone country? Here are Disney’s ten most country moments.
10. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” – Song of the South
This tune from Song of the South won the 1946 Academy Award for Best Original Song and was the 47th best song AFI’s list of songs from film. It is very clearly influenced by early folk songs with racist themes. Despite its controversial forebears, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” is a down-home, old-fashioned feel-good country tune.
9. “Say it With a Slap” – Fun and Fancy Free
Ignoring that this song is essentially encouraging domestic abuse, “Say It With a Slap” is a hoedown. Nashville’s own Dinah Shore was a famous pop singer in the 40s and ventured into country territory with this song, even going to far as yodeling in this song for the movie Fun and Fancy Free.
8. Home on the Range Soundtrack
Disney’s largely forgettable 2004 release did feature a pretty amazing country cast on the soundtrack. Tim McGraw, Bonnie Raitt, and k.d. Lang all contributed. And no one even knew. Still, a very country moment.
7. “When I see an Elephant Fly” – Dumbo
Whether you believe the song to be racist or not, Dumbo’s “When I see an Elephant Fly” is one of Disney’s countrier moments. Sung by a gang of southern crows who scat and use clever wordplay, this song wouldn’t seem out of place in Jimmie Rodger’s repertoire.
6. “The Bare Necessities” – The Jungle Book
Preaching the virtues of simple living, this Disney classic was “Chicken Fried” before “Chicken Fried.” An argument could be made for just about any of the great Phil Harris’ appearances in classic Disney movies, but this song has the bonus of being written by the father of contemporary folk singer Eliza Gilkyson.
5. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Toy Story
Name me a kid who grew up in the 90s that doesn’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside upon hearing Randy Newman’s theme song from Toy Story. Lyle Lovett joined him for this song that played during the film’s end credits. The Gipsy Kings recorded a Spanish version for Toy Story 3. All in all, it’s one of country’s finer moments in Disney music history.
4. Ray – The Princess and the Frog
With songs like “Evangeline,” reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, The Princess in the Frog is its own country style. Zydeco and gospel are both strong influences, but it is Jim Cummings’ brilliant redneck cajun Ray the firefly that steals the show.
3. “Gaston” – Beauty and the Beast
“Gaston” may have a claim to being one of the very first bro-country songs. In what is essentially a three-minute long boast, Gaston drinks, carouses, and preens. He’s got better boots than anyone else, and he uses antlers in all of his decorating. Country much? We think so.
Set in what pretty much amounts to Arizona, Cars is a country-fueled movie with the likes of Brad Paisley, James Taylor, and Sheryl Crow providing songs to the soundtrack. Larry the Cable Guy voices the hick tow truck Mater. Not to mention an appearance by Hank Williams, Jr. When Rascal Flatts sing “Life is a Highway,” it is undoubtedly one of Disney’s countriest moments.
1. Allan-a-Dale – Robin Hood
Who knew that the narrator in Robin Hood, the rooster Allan-a-Dale, was none other than country superstar Roger Miller? It’s ironic that the story of England’s famous bandit-hero is narrated by a country boy from the U.S., whistling and picking his way to the Disney’s most country moment.