The 16 Most Inspirational Songs from Animated Movies

microphone Oscar Keys

I love movies. I love music. But I especially love both when I am moved by them. When they force me to feel something. Those are the ones we remember. The ones we hold onto when we don’t have anything else. The ones that give us comfort, help us remember, and connect us in ways we couldn’t otherwise describe. We can all pick the latest Disney and Pixar movies to grab with the songs that make the charts or just become something so iconic that we will either love it or hate it forever. (Think “Let it Go” from Frozen or “Happy” from Despicable Me.)

However, some of the best songs have either been long forgotten or dismissed because they didn’t sell millions of downloads on iTunes. My playlist is a wide array of songs — I don’t stick to a particular genre. I pick what I am feeling or needing at that particular time. If I am getting ready to run, I need something different than when I am out for a casual stroll in my neighborhood. If I need something to just sing to (not very well, I might add), then who knows what I might find.

Being an adult doesn’t mean we should miss out on the “G” rated movies. Most often, even the animated films reflect real life through portraying struggles, guilt, and uncertainty. Often the characters in these movies are faced with decisions they only wish they could undo after the outcome is known, just like we often experience. Just as in life, there are times when we fail miserably and we achieve greatness too. Maybe that is why I never miss a new animated film — there just might be a hidden treasure buried somewhere in the soundtrack that I might fall in love with and need.

Songs capture those moments for us and attach a melody to it so that we can sing along. These songs are not in any particular order, but life just kind of works that way sometimes, too.

“Somewhere out There” – from “American Tail” (by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram)

Sometimes, our lives takes us on journeys that keep us apart from the people we love the most and the best way to get through the days until we see them again is knowing that someone misses you. We feel them and the embrace of their love even though we are separated by miles. This song just comforts me when I am feeling a little lonely and even though our lives are busy and chaotic, I know I am loved. We can’t be everywhere, but our love can.

“The Trail We Blaze” – from “The Road to El Dorado” (by Elton John)

Life is an adventure and this song reminds us to travel the road less traveled. To seek what is on the other side. To be excited and not held back by fear. To be discoverers of life. We might not always know what is at the end of the road and it may not lead us to the lost City of Gold, but that is not what really matters in the end.

Being a trailblazer means stepping way from the crowd and chasing a dream only we can see…it means starting the conversation…it means standing up when everyone else is sitting down. Every great change in the world was made possible because of someone who wasn’t confined by conformity and we should follow their lead and maybe cause a little ruckus ourselves!

“Here comes the Sun” – from “The Bee Movie” (by Sheryl Crow)

This song just makes us sing. It fills out hearts with happiness and we smile. On a cloudy day, we yearn for that great big orange glow in the sky and we rely on it to not only warm the planet, but it gives us hope. Things in life don’t always go the way we would like and disappointment might be waiting just around the corner, but this song makes me believe, hold on and stay strong. It reminds us that life is always full of change.

“Someone’s Waiting for You” – from “The Rescuers (by Lea Salonga)

Through our travels, life and our wanderings, we sometimes find ourselves lost, unable to find our way back home. It’s easy to believe that we can be so easily forgotten — but who’s to say that no matter how long it takes, no matter the reason why you left, that you wouldn’t be greeted with open arms and loved even more? At times, we feel the need to see what else is out there and without realizing what we are doing, we walk away from the one thing we took for granted. In our lifetime, we meet very few people who will do anything and everything to be there for you…never take them for granted.

“Here I Am” – from “Spirit, the Stallion of the Cimarron” (by Bryan Adams)

There is no greater song about being true to ourselves and what we want than this ballad. In it, I find comfort in knowing that being vulnerable, chasing what seems just out of reach, and knowing who I am is more valuable than anything. We can lose possessions and fall on our faces, but if we don’t know who we are or what we believe in, then nothing else matters. If we don’t know who we are, what’s the point of being alive? This song reminds me to stop hiding behind everything that scares me and to trust in the freedom that comes with the truth found in our essence and soul.

“Hakuna Matata” – from “The Lion King (by Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jason Weaver, & Joseph Williams)

With life full of chaotic and busy moments, sometimes the best thing we can do is to just stop worrying about everything. We exert a lot of energy and time holding onto scenarios that may never come to be. It doesn’t mean the craziness goes away, it just means we need to step away from it for a while. It’s our little mini vacation. Our escape. Sure, we know the “real” world is still out there, but sometimes our philosophy has to be “one day at a time” and that whatever we don’t know now we will figure out when we need to later. Make it your motto and get through each day.

“Around the Riverbend” – from “Pocahontas” (by Arielle Jacobs)

We have this sense of adventure that excites us and even if we don’t know what happens next, fear won’t keep us from doing what thrills us and what moves us. Staying in the same place is not an option and pushing the envelope is always where our agenda lies. Our endless curiosity to see what’s out there and how we can interact with it is how we cheat the staleness of an otherwise boring existence. We break a few rules along the way and see things from a different perspective, allowing our minds to grow in ways we might have missed otherwise. Go ahead…take a peak. It just might be everything you have ever desired.

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – from “Toy Story” (by Randy Newman)

No matter who we are, we all need friends. Not just the kind of friends who show up when they need something or when it’s convenient, but the ones who will do anything and everything for us. They are committed to your friendship and need you as much as you need them. You may not always see eye to eye and you may say things you might regret later, but when it comes down to it, you’ve got each other’s backs. No matter what. Through thick and thin. When it is all said and done, a man is no better than the friends he has and the friendship he gives.

“Why Should I Worry?” – from “Oliver & Company” (by Billy Joel)

No matter where we come from or how much we know, we cannot always plan out life. We will need to adapt to the ever changing landscape, the pitfalls and roadblocks that come our way and improvise when needed. No one has a “blueprint” of life and no book will teach us “what to expect”, but we somehow know that carrying worry and uncertainty is not how living our best life should be. Walking tall and confident through life will teach us to be strong and courageous when things don’t go our way. Even if we don’t have every answer for every question, we can still act like we do.

“You’ll be in My Heart” – from “Tarzan (by Phil Collins)

Having three sons of my own and sending the last one off to college last year, this song was one of many that made me happy and sad at the same time. A mother’s love never leaves and it is love that cannot be forgotten or misplaced — no matter how far a child travels. Sometimes, our family is not the one we were born into, but the people we connect with and love without boundaries. Our loved ones never go a day without feeling our love and when the moments you have together are short or never seem to be enough, let them know this…you are always in my heart, closer than you could ever imagine.

“Reflection” – from “Mulan (by Lea Salonga)

Who didn’t have parents direct us towards a career or college choice? Who thought they had to be someone they really weren’t, but followed the path that had been paved for them because it was easier? If our main goal in life is to be happy, then the ones who love us most should want that most for us too. Sometimes, we don’t know who we are yet and only in traveling through life do we truly find ourselves. Never be afraid to look yourself in the mirror and see what is within your heart and soul. Letting people see the “real” you may be a little scary, but it is something we never forget — in that moment, we can’t hold back any longer. We just are who we were born to be.

“When You Believe” – from “The Prince of Egypt (by Mariah Carey)

I didn’t know the power behind a single belief until it happened to me. I didn’t understand how one thought could change everything…how it convinces you that everything you cannot see or touch still matters. You may be pulled in a direction you almost cannot share, but being afraid isn’t an option. Miracles happen and show us all that no matter where we come from, what has happened to us, that sometimes, life gives us moments that change us forever. It is not about what we know or how far we went in school, but real power comes when you believe — because anything is possible. 

“Little Wonders” – from “Meet the Robinsons” (by Rob Thomas)

As we look back on life, we can pick out the really bad parts that we wish we’d never lived. Every day, we are exposed to tiny, seemingly insignificant moments that keep us grounded in ways the large ones won’t. Most of us are too busy to pay attention to anything other than what is directly in front of us. Every once in a while, what seems like a wrong turn actually leads us to exactly where we were meant to be all along. Never be so busy in life that you miss the little wonders that become really big memories.

“Feel the Light” – from “Home” (by Jennifer Lopez)

Sometimes, life grabs our hand and shoves us into circumstances we don’t want and falling down into a crumpled mess serves its purpose well. Every emotion we try so desperately to hide comes rushing to the surface and we stop caring about what matters most. We stumble. We lose our way. We give up. This song gives me hope in the places I never think to look and it confirms that love is the greatest of all things. We all make choices and then feel like we have to live with them forever. But that’s not true…we can make changes, even if it isn’t what others would do. A true friendship will make its rounds through the life, but in the end, it always finds itself back “home.” Sometimes, you just have to fight for it again.

“God help the Outcasts” – from “The Hunchback from Notre Dame” (by Bette Midler)

None of us really fit in. We are all different, yet we strive to confirm to the crowd and the norms that society has created for us. Some days, we don’t know where to go, we have no answers, and we feel alone. Maybe we believe that no one else will really understand what we are feeling or we are afraid to really be that vulnerable with someone. Honestly, we don’t even know what we need, but we seem to lose that sense of selfishness when we give unconditionally to others, knowing that the fight is a good one. We strive to be more passionate and generous to those who have less. We want to ease the suffering of those who are bullied, made fun of, and dismissed as insignificant. From time to time, we all need to be reminded of our differences and celebrate them together instead.

“The Rainbow Connection” – from “The Muppet Movie” (by Kermit the Frog)

OK, you caught me. This isn’t really an animated movie, but I grew up watching “The Muppets” every Sunday night at 7pm and needed to remind us all that rainbows only come after the rain. Life can bring its storms and although we don’t know how long it will last, we know that the sun will come out tomorrow (that might be from another movie..) and we can once again, see light. Not because we believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but because there is a little bit of magic held in the way the light reflects off those drops of water. This song reminds me to believe in the power of a dream and why each one means something to its owner. We still wish on stars, we still search the skies for answers, and we still love to sing this song.

Conclusion:

The best soundtracks come with a great score and receive many awards, but as much as achieving those accolades matter, sometimes, the best melodies and words strung together are hidden behind something a little less “human.” The basic principle of cartoons succeeding in expressing human emotion can be difficult to achieve without music. Some of these songs will collect dust and be forgotten and just be listed as a track on a CD. Just because a high profile actor or actress isn’t providing the voice for a main character doesn’t mean the film is worthless. Most often, the hidden gems are the ones we have to find for ourselves.

Life is about living and every challenge and opportunity that comes with it. Some days are easier than others. Some come with questions while others provide answers. We also find hope, curiosity, and love in the moments we capture in life as we chase our dreams and find great friends along the way, too. Let these songs become your new favorite playlist and when you get a chance, maybe watch the movie too.

Featured photo credit: Oscar Keys via unsplash.com

Source: Life Hack

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