Top 11 Disney “I Want” Songs

Top 11 Disney “I Want” Songs

They set up the plot and get stuck in our heads forever.

Every musical Disney film has one – that song where the lead gets up and tells the audience what they want. It’s usually one of the first songs, and arguably the most important song in the show, because everything the character does after this will be based on this established motivation. Here are my top eleven Disney “I Want” songs.

11. "Go the Distance" (Hercules)

Hercules is a film I can see the Disney Theatrical Group bringing to the stage someday. Its songs feel like they’re meant to be sung out over an audience instead of in movie close-ups, and “Go the Distance” is no exception. But while it’s gorgeous, its lyrics are so nonspecific that that this song doesn’t really tell you who is singing it, just that he wants to “feel like I belong,” so I don’t think it fulfills its purpose as well as other songs on this list.

10. "Jack’s Lament" (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

To contrast, there is absolutely no doubt who is singing this song – “I – Jack! The Pumpkin King!” See, these are the kind of picky details I have to go for to put one gorgeous song over another. This song is an exposition dump; by the end of it, you really know Jack and end up somehow sympathizing with his frankly unrelatable desires. I mean, come on. His problem is that he’s bored with being famous.

9. "Reflection" (Mulan)

Unlike Jack, Mulan takes a scenario a lot of her audience likely hasn’t experienced and translates it into terms that anyone can relate to: the idea that who you are on the outside and who you are on the inside don’t match up. “Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?” I hate to put this beautiful melody so far down on the list, but there are just so many good “I Want” songs…

8. "Just Around the River Bend" (Pocahontas)

Pocahontas’s “I Want” song is interesting because she doesn’t actually know what she wants. Or maybe she wants that uncertainty, to sacrifice security in the name of discovering “what’s around the river bend.” What I really love about this song is how even without the video or water sound effects, you can feel her rushing down the river.

7. "Out There" (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

In another movie definitelymeant for the stage (and it was off-Broadway for a brief time), the hero’s “I Want” song is mixed with a brief Villain song. Nearly a third of “Out There” is Frollo telling Quasimodo why he shouldn’t leave Notre Dame – and the rest of it is Quasimodo’s rebuttal to the audience, explaining why he wants “one day out there.” The second part is all the more powerful for the inclusion of the first; we know not only what Quasimodo wants, but the social and psychological barriers he’ll spend the film confronting.

6. "I Just Can’t Wait to be King" (The Lion King)

Not all “I Want” songs are sweeping ballads. Simba’s is catchy. I apologize in advance for the earworm, but it’s just so much fun! “Let every creature go for broke and sing” along! (Also, this song sets up a desire that Simba will later outright reject, giving his character arc complexity. We can't help but compare "Hakuna Matata" Simba to "Just Can't Wait to be King" Simba!)

5. "Almost There" (The Princess and the Frog)

Speaking of catchy, just like every other part of this movie, “Almost There” is jazzy fun. Tiana knows exactly what she wants and how to get it, which sets her apart from a lot of Disney protagonists and makes this song stand out. “So I work real hard each and every day, now things for sure are going my way!” What a great role model!

4. "When Will My Life Begin" (Tangled)

This song plays a really cool trick on the listener. It doesn’t sound like an “I Want” song at first; it’s just Rapunzel listing off the things she does in a day. But then she drops the title onto the list – “and basically, just wonder when will my life begin” – and you realize that for all her activities, she’s aware that she isn’t really living. After that she provides a more concrete desire, to go see the lanterns, and the bigger “life” theme is ostensibly dropped. Except it isn’t dropped. That’s what the journey out of the tower to see the lanterns represents. And because the connection is set up here, it will stick with the viewer throughout the film.

3. "How Far I’ll Go" (Moana)

Maybe I’m a sucker for new stuff. Maybe there’s an art to expressing pure longing through music. Maybe this song feels a lot like “Just Around the Riverbend” but more obviously conflicted. Maybe I’m partial to altos. Who knows? This song just "seems like it’s calling out to me”!

2. "For the First Time In Forever" (Frozen)

I love this song from a pure aesthetic standpoint in addition to a content one. It’s two conflicting “I Want” songs in one. Anna wants this day to be full of life-changing moments. Elsa wants it to be uneventful and end quickly. It gets to the point where they’re saying the same thing but meaning two completely different things: “It’s only for today, it’s agony to wait” – and it’s really clever.

1. "Part of Your World" (The Little Mermaid)

See, I’m not completely a sucker for new stuff. This song has been one of my favorites on the Disney mixtape since childhood. It makes me laugh. It makes me sigh. It’s beautiful. And it establishes that Ariel doesn’t give up her voice only for a guy. She already wanted to be “part of that world.” The prince was a bonus.

What do you think? Did I forget your favorite "I Want" song? Leave a comment with which Disney "I Want" song you think is number one and why!

Cover Image Credit: Cosmopolitan

Popular Right Now

15 Texts We'd Get From Dogs If They Had Thumbs

"If you're reading this, send Milk Bones."

Let's be real, anyone who has a dog knows that it if we could, we would text our dogs all day long. If they could text us, our thread would look something like...

1. "Are you coming home soon?! Let's go out!"

2. "So not to be weird... but you never ended up answering me last night... Am I the good boy? Idk I just want to be clear on our relationship I don't want to be lead on if I'm not."

3. "The cat is being such a bit** I literally can't stand her"

4. "Hey, just wondering, are you going to wear those black booties tonight? If you are, I'll chew the zipper out of the brown ones instead."

5. "Okay, so don't freak out, but something not so chill happened on the rug..."

6. "Are there any leftovers in the trash? I'm not gonna get into it, I was just curious. Love u."

7. "If you're reading this... bring Milk Bones."

8. "Hey, what's for dinner tonight?! Purina again?"

9. "Miss you!!"

10. "Are you gonna eat that food on the counter or is that for everyone? Asking for the cat."

11. "I LOVE YOU"

12. "OMG, I can't wait for you to come home on break! Can you sleep in the guest room tho? Mom said I could have your room when you moved out. Love u!"

13. "Ice cream date later?!"

14. "We should go for a walk I need to get my ass back in shape for summer. You should be my workout buddy!"

15. "Netflix and chill tonight?"

Cover Image Credit: Salon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

For Those Struggling With Gift Ideas, Here Are 5 Creative And Unique Ideas

They're easy and affordable!


Every year, when the holiday season rolls around, many people stress about what to get for their friends, family, significant others, etc. I know a lot of the questions people ask themselves are, "how can I make my gift personal?" or "what is a thoughtful gift to get them?" Well, I thought of some ideas, so you don't have to.

1. Personalized Keychains

This gift is super easy to personalize. I have bought from @jessiegirljewelry through Amazon before. She has plenty of options on how you can customize your keychain for whomever you are buying it. You can get a quote, a special date, coordinates of a meaningful place, names and so much more engraved, you name it!

2. Aesthetically Pleasing Gift Box With Mini Gifts

When I was scrolling through my VSCO, I came across this photo and I thought it would be the perfect gift idea! I love how all of the colors of each object correlate with each other, and each gift is cute and personal within the box. Obviously, you don't have to put expensive items like Calvin Klein and a bottle of wine in the box, but you can easily personalize this for the person you are giving this to as a gift.

3. Guided Journal or Sketchbook

If you have a friend who likes to write or draw a lot, this is the perfect gift to give them. This is even better than giving a blank journal because, at times where your friend's creative juices may run dry, a guided journal will easily help them find inspiration. Here are is a thoughtful and creative gift to give, and I can assure you that your writer and artist friends will appreciate you for it!

4. Canvas Painting

Canvas paintings have become increasingly popular, and for good reason. There are so many directions you can go with canvas paintings. You can paint a cute quote, a favorite TV or movie character, or even a sports team logo. You don't even need to be the best artist for this because you can easily find stencils at your local Michael's or A.C. Moore to help you make the perfect painting to give as a gift!

5. Note Jar

Note jars are some of the most personal gifts you can give to someone. They can either be filled with little notes for each day of the year, notes with positive messages, or even date ideas for when you and your significant other have run out of ideas for fun dates! This is quick and easy, and if you want to take it a step further, you can even decorate the jar with paint or bows!

Related Content

Facebook Comments