Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Disney Songs Fans Didn't Know

Ashley Hunte
A person in a Minnie Mouse costume with their hands on the mask's mouth.
Unsplash | Adrián Valverde

For most of us, there's at least one (or more likely, a few) Disney movies that are near and dear to our hearts. A lot of that probably has to do with the amazing songs present in Disney's musicals.

For all but the biggest Disney fanatic, there are plenty of lesser-known facts about these songs and their production. Here are just a few of those facts.

"The Bare Necessities" was almost thrown out.

While working on The Jungle Book, Floyd Norman took over for writer and animator Bill Peet, after he continued to have disagreements with Walt Disney.

They threw all the original songs out, but Norman and other crew members begged to keep "The Bare Necessities." It's the only song from Peet's version of the film to survive.

Sebastian was meant to have a British accent, but his Trinidadian accent influenced "Kiss the Girl."

On "Kiss the Girl," Alan Menken said, "The choice of making Sebastian a Caribbean crab from Trinidad added so much richness to the characterization and to his sense of his manhood and his sense of the Latin lover in him even though he's a tiny, little red crab."

Celine Dion was recruited to sing the title song for 'Beauty and the Beast' because they couldn't afford a big name.

Before her heart would go on, Celine Dion was a relatively unknown singer from Canada. The studio couldn't afford a bigger name at the time, but it ended up working out for everyone in the end.

The version of "A Whole New World" by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

It was the first Disney song to top the Billboard charts, and remained the only one until 'We Don't Talk About Bruno' achieved the same feat in 2021 and 2022.

"Trust in Me" was originally written for 'Mary Poppins.'

"Trust in Me," also known as The Python's song, which Kaa sings during The Jungle Book, was reworked from an unused Mary Poppins (1964) song called "The Land of Sand."

"You'll Be in My Heart" was originally written for Lily Collins.

Phil Collins, who was behind the music for Tarzan, originally wrote "You'll Be in My Heart" as a lullaby for his daughter, Lily Collins.

"We grew up watching Disney shows and movies together, so that was his way of kind of being able to do it for his kids. It was so special," she said.

Robin Williams made fun of himself after singing "Friend Like Me" for 'Aladdin.'

Williams never saw himself as a singer, despite providing the singing voice for Genie in Aladdin. He said about his own voice, "I think there's still people going 'No, man, you got no rhythm. It's frightening. They should have the United Caucasian Rhythm Fund. You got no rhythm.'"

"Tangled" is the first CGI movie to also be a musical.

It's kind of weird to think that there was a time when CGI and musical weren't said in the same sentence. But Tangled wasn't just Disney's first CGI musical film, it was the first one, like, ever.

Carolina Gaitan and Mauro Castillo recorded their parts for "We Don't Talk About Bruno" over Zoom.

Encanto was completed during the COVID pandemic, meaning that the voice actors couldn't actually be in the same room together. They recorded their parts in their own studios, with Lin Manuel Miranda directing them over Zoom.

Stephanie Beatriz recorded "Waiting on a Miracle" while in labor.

Beatriz shared that she didn't want to worry anyone, "but I was already having some contractions when we were scheduled to record that day. I was like ‘Well, fingers crossed I finish the song before [the baby] comes!'"

Some of us might remember "Heigh Ho" a little differently.

I'm gonna admit right now that I've never seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, so I always assumed they were saying "It's off to work we go" during "Heigh Ho." They're actually saying "it's home from work we go," and a lot of people straight up misheard or misremembered it.

Lin Manuel Miranda locked himself in his childhood bedroom in order to write "How Far I'll Go."

Miranda admitted that he took writing this Moana song pretty seriously: "I kind of went method for it! I like, locked myself up in my bedroom and it was like, 'All right, you’re 16 years old, and the distance between you and what you want is impossible!'"

"Remember Me" was recorded in different styles for different moments in 'Coco.'

The song appears four times throughout the film, and songwriting duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez worked with different Mexican musical styles to create different tones and moods for each time the song appears.

'Snow White' started the trend of releasing movie soundtracks.

Now there's a fact that almost seems to strange to be true. But Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first movie ever to release an original motion picture soundtrack. Thankfully, it's far from the last.

Jeremy Irons smoked between takes while recording 'Be Prepared.'

Back in the '90s, when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke indoors, Jeremy Irons spent most of his studio time smoking. This included in between takes of him recording Scars villain song, "Be Prepared."

Lin Manuel Miranda wrote "Dos Oruguitas" entirely in Spanish, which was a first for him.

Miranda said that writing in Spanish isn't necessarily hard for him, "I just have a much more limited vocab in Spanish. So, I had to really reach for my thesaurus, and outside my comfort zone, to really try to write a song that feels like it’s always existed."

The original title for "A Whole New World" was "The World at My Feet."

The stand-in title for the love song in Aladdin was "The World at My Feet." But Alan Menken said that lyricist Time Rice thought having the word "feet" in the title of a love song for a kids' movie was a little weird. So, he changed it.

"Cruella de Vil" went through multiple revisions.

Mel Leven wrote two versions of "Cruella de Vil" for 101 Dalmatians, presented them to Disney, and had them both rejected. Then, he wrote the blues version we know today (which only took him around 15 minutes), and Disney loved it.

"Let It Go" completely changed Elsa's character.

In original drafts of Frozen, Elsa was meant to be a very different character. In fact, she was the villain. But after hearing "Let It Go," writers/directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee pretty much rewrote the whole script.

"Let It Go" also happened to be the song that got Robert Lopez his EGOT.

Having won a Grammy and multiple Emmys and Tonys by 2014, Lopez just needed an Oscar to be part of the EGOT club. And thanks to "Let It Go" he got it (alongside wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez).