11 Classic Disney Songs Performed Flawlessly by Famous Pop Stars
From Elton John to Christina Aguilera
Disney tunes have a special place in the hearts of many millennials (and millennial parents) who spent formative years glued to their televisions, watching and re-watching the animated fairy tales. As it turns out, the classic films of Disney's '90s renaissance have also provided a great showcase for the famous pop stars who lent their voices to their powerful, uplifting theme songs—often serenading viewers as the end credits rolled. Here, we've rounded up the best radio-ready versions of Disney's finest melodies, from names as big as Elton John, Ariana Grande and Christina Aguilera.
1. "A Whole New World," Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle
Disney favorite Peabo Bryson returned one year after lending his voice to Beauty and the Beast for 1992's Aladdin, joining powerhouse vocalist Regina Belle. The R&B-influenced take was included as the end credits version, a more radio-friendly rendition of the song performed in the movie by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga. It took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song and ultimately topped radio charts.
2. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," Elton John
Elton John took home the 1995 Academy Award for Best Original Song — as well as a Grammy and Golden Globe — for composing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" with lyricist Tim Rice for The Lion King. While the film version features a different cast of voices, the end credits have John's own vocal. The song could get another remake to accompany Disney's live-action version of the film, set to star Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones as Mufasa.
3. "Colors of the Wind," Vanessa Williams
The powerful Pocahontas song finds the crystal-clear voice of Vanessa Williamspainting a vision of 17th-century Native American life—and the importance of the environment—that still resonates with audiences today.
4. "Go the Distance," Michael Bolton
Singer Michael Bolton (and his flowing locks) stepped up to the plate to perform "Go the Distance," composed by Disney mainstay Alan Menken, for the 1997 Hercules movie. Sung in the film by Roger Bart, Bolton's take appeared in the end credits (and got its own music video).
5. "You'll Be In My Heart," Phil Collins
Phil Collins both composed and performed the famous Tarzan tune. It was another Academy Award winner for Best Original Song, in 2000, in addition to nabbing a slew of other honors. Collins' daughter, actress Lilly Collins, recently revealed that it had originally been used a lullaby for her.
6. "Reflection," Christina Aguilera
Aguilera swept into the spotlight in 1998 with this cover of the song performed in Mulan by Lea Salonga. It was Aguilera's debut single—she was 17—and quickly won her national attention for her powerhouse vocals, helping launch her career as a singer.
7. "Someday," All-4-One
Early-'90s R&B group All-4-One took on this Hunchback of Notre Dame tune composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Although the song is not a part of the movie's narrative, it played over the end credits and was included on the soundtrack.
8. "Never Knew I Needed," Ne-Yo
Ne-Yo joined the Disney family for the soundtrack of 2009's The Princess and the Frog. The singer-songwriter wrote and performed this modern R&B song, the first off of the movie's official soundtrack. It appears in the movie's end credits, while the accompanying music video, filmed in New Orleans, was directed by Beyoncé's preferred director Melina Matsoukas.
9. "Bare Necessities," Bill Murray
The 2016 live-action remake of The Jungle Book starred folk hero Bill Murray as sloth bear Baloo, giving the actor a chance to shine in this update on the beloved tune first performed in the 1967 animated version.
10. "How Far I'll Go," Alessia Cara
Last fall's Moana is Disney's latest smash-hit animated adventure, and although the original tune stars rising talent Auli'i Cravalho—who performed the Oscar-nominated song at this year's Academy Awards—this Alessia Cara version packs the same heartfelt punch with a pop-forward orchestration.
11. "Beauty and the Beast," John Legend and Ariana Grande
The newest addition to the canon comes courtesy of John Legend and Ariana Grande. Their rendition of the classic Beauty and the Beast theme song unites the pair for a contemporary orchestration of the Grammy-winning original, first sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, for the brand new movie starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.