A Piece of My Mind: Disney’s Top Eight Pop Covers of All Time

ariana-grande-john-legend

Why Top Eight? Because MySpace. Obviously.

It’s official! Last week, it was announced that Grammy nominee/donut-licker Ariana Grande and Oscar winner/50% of the world’s greatest couple John Legend are going to record a new version of the title track for the upcoming live action Beauty and the Beast. 

This incredible news got me reminiscing about all the silly, synthy pop covers of Disney movies past. So, I decided to share my favorites with you. There are absolutely some awesome songs that didn’t make my completely subjective list, so please feel free to tell me about the covers you love too.

Without further ado, let’s get to my countdown!

8. “You’re Welcome” from Moana — Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jordan Fisher

It’s hard to make a superlative list of entertainment these days without including Lin-Manuel Miranda. So, here he is. Not just because he’s himself, but also because I think that “You’re Welcome”, in spite of being the Miranda-iest of Moana‘s songs, has a genuine spot in Disney’s expansive collection of sidekick songs alongside “Be Our Guest” and “Friend Like Me”. Dwayne Johnson nailed the slick, quick rhymes in the film, but LMM’s ability to inject youthful whimsy and street edge into his performances is unmatched. He’s accompanied by the dreamy Jordan Fisher (currently in Hamilton, formerly in Grease: Live), whose smooth sound is a great stand-in for the smoother sounds of the dreamier Christopher Jackson.

7. “A Whole New World” from Aladdin —  Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey 

I imagine the place Nick and Jessica are singing about is the whole new world of MTV reality television where tuna could be chicken and either of them were relevant. This recording and video encapsulate everything that was excellent about their 2003 show Newlyweds: Jessica’s vocal fry, Nick’s dimples, and their adorable chemistry. Fourteen years ago, I could definitely see them as a Disney prince and princess. But not as Aladdin and Jasmine, though, because whitewashing is bad. Hear that, Hollywood? BAD!

6.  “Let It Go” from Frozen — Demi Lovato

Regrettable dye job aside, Demi Lovato is still one of the most underrated vocalists in the game right now. There wasn’t a better choice than this “Confident” artist to  match Idina Menzel screlt for screlt. And this song is probably the only thing more musically ubiquitous than Lin-Manuel Miranda/Hamilton so I respect the subtle, pop-friendly lyric changes.

5. “Zero to Hero” from Hercules — Ariana Grande 

If this was Ariana’s audition for the Beauty and the Beast gig, is anyone surprised she got it? This cover has EVERYTHING! A choir. Minnie Mouse ears. Somewhat decipherable lyrics. Hercules is nowhere near my favorite Disney movie, but I would be the first in line for a live action remake if it featured more Grande vocals.

4. “So This Is Love” from Cinderella — The Cheetah Girls 

Cinderella is way more than its sappy presumptive signature tune “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. It takes a hell of a romantic song to enhance the iconic visuals of Cinderella waltzing and falling in love with Prince Charming at the ball, and that’s just what “So This Is Love” is and what it does. And, when you add in the Spanglish R&B flair of American treasures The Cheetah Girls, you can count on about a billion streams from me alone.

3. “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast — Céline Dion & Peabo Bryson 

And in this corner…the reigning champions of this “song as old as rhyme”…not named Angela Lansbury. In a lot of ways, this is the quintessential Disney cover. With its corny 90’s production value and its even cornier, even more 90’s music video, you can imagine the track getting equal play on Adult Contemporary and Children’s  radio stations Pandora stations Apple Music playlists (?). Naturally, Céline and Peabo sing the shit out of it, and I imagine the blend of Ariana’s and John’s voices will be just as seamless and sumptuous.

2. “Once Upon a Dream” from Maleficent Sleeping Beauty — Lana Del Ray 

Surprised? Me too. “Once Upon a Dream” ranking this highly on my list is definitely the product of my deep affection for the movie this dark and twisty cover was featured in. Maleficent is the bold, feminist, anti-sexual abuse retelling of Sleeping Beauty I never knew I needed. Del Ray’s languid, haunting “…Dream” might be a nightmare for Disney purists, but, tbh, I’d MUCH rather be a bad ass like Maleficent than dance with birds in the woods like cartoon Aurora.

1. “Reflection” from Mulan — Christina Aguilera 

More like PERFECTION. This song launched Christina Aguilera’s entire career before there was a genie or a bottle. And, if you claim you’ve never lip synced this ballad in front of every reflective surface in your house at some point in your life, we can’t be friends anymore. On this list and in a movie like Mulan where each song is better than the last, “Reflection” is the crown jewel.

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