Let's play a little word-association game! Okay, when I say "breathtaking melodies and masterful animation" you think of...
... Disney sequels, right?! No?
I totally get you. For the vast majority of, well... anyone, Disney's direct-to-video releases are the cocktails of poor animation, sub-par storylines, and inane melodies that no one really wanted. For some though (spoiler alert: I fall into this camp), these underwhelming sequels are as firmly planted in the nostalgia of childhood as Walt Disney's greatest masterpieces. That being said, all sequels are not created equal.
...you have no idea how hard I tried not to make that rhyme.
I've definitely been, shall we say, enlightened to the truth about those "part-two"s from my younger years. Most of them are pretty terrible, some enough so that I've tried to permanently erase them from memory (
1) "There's a Party Here in Agrabah", Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Alright, so this part-three isn't really a gem among Disney sequels, but nostalgia edged it in at number five.
Also, I was avoiding repeats."King of Thieves" was the go-to entertainment of my elementary-era sick days, and hey- there are certainly many . My spirits were always brightened by Genie's antics, which play a starring role in the movie's opening number. Also of note here is Liz Callaway (the singing voice for non-Disney princesses Odette and Anastasia) lending her soaring soprano as Princess Jasmine... a treat which I had long forgotten!
(Also: Excuse you, Aladdin. "The party's all for me"? You better watch it, mister.)2) "Digga Tunnah Dance", The Lion King 1 1/2
Tell me this song did not make you want to be a meerkat. I double dog dare you. Okay, so maybe that was just me, but that doesn't change the fact that "Diggah Tunnah" (as well its companions in the third installment of the Lion King movies) is a smart, well-written song. Both sequels to the timeless 1994 classic manage to honor the spirit of the original film while still standing apart as their own entities- in fact, you'll see more of the LK trilogy later in this list!
3) "Lesson Number One", Mulan II
As a kid, I watched Mulan II for the love story. Well, that and Michelle Kwan's brief cameo, but I digress. My point is: I had only a vague appreciation for the musical complexity that lay within, particularly in "Lesson Number One". Seriously, I get chills. The song perfectly sets up the movie's theme (the importance of balance) not only with lyrics, but through the actual structure of the piece. The listener experiences individually both the driving rhythm of strength and the smooth legato of gentleness before the two are married in counterpoint which impeccably demonstrates the harmony that can be achieved when opposites work together as one.4) "For a Moment", The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
TLM II holds a very special place in my heart. Maybe it was because I wanted very badly to be a mermaid
as a child, but it was more likely the fact that there's a little bit of Melody in everyone. All she wants is a place to belong, yet the place she feels most at home is just out of reach. Haven't we all been there? This song captures the catharsis of finally finding that fit; it depicts the outburst of joy that occurs when a person discovers the thing that makes them most alive. It inspires reflection upon our own "moments", how they made our hearts soar, and how they have changed us.
On another note, this sequel brought us Titanic Tip and Daring Dash, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.5) "We Are One", The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
As I said earlier, the Lion King sequels are of unparalleled quality among other home releases. "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride" boasts music that, in my opinion, rivals some compositions from the first film (a particularly impressive aspect due to the absence of the original writers, barring Hans Zimmer's work on "He Lives in You"). One standout amidst a generally stellar soundtrack is "We Are One". The song is a musical powerhouse, for sure, but again, it is the message that sets it apart. The powerful lyrics have moved me to tears on more than one occasion, and have brought comfort when I most needed it.
"All the wisdom to lead,
All the courage that you need
You will find when you see
We are one."
Of course, each of the movies I mentioned contains quite a few more great tunes, but you'll just have to go check those out for yourselves! Which Disney sequel is close to your heart? Let me know in the comments!
Love and pixie dust,
P.S.- Princesses and Pixie Dust is on Twitter and Instagram! Follow me for updates on blog posts, Disney visits, and a little bit of daily magic!