Top 10 Musical Moments in DreamWorks Movies
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Musical Moments in DreamWorks Movies.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the animation studio’s best musical sequences and catchiest songs.
Which Dreamworks movie do you think has the best soundtrack?
#10: “I Like to Move It”
Alongside the penguins, King Julien and the lemurs were the breakout stars of the “Madagascar” franchise. And they definitely got the best introduction. When our four heroes first arrive on the eponymous island, they’re used to the ordered confines of the New York zoo. They get their first real taste of freedom when they burst in on a lemur party in full swing. King Julien, voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen, is at the center of the festivities, which can best be described as a rave. Madagascar’s most memorable song was originally released by 90’s hip hop artist Reel 2 Real and is now recognisable as a tik-tok dance. But for us, it will forever be associated with ring-tailed lemurs.
#9: “Can’t Stop the Feeling”
With a star-studded voice cast and a soundtrack full of hits, “Trolls” was guaranteed to get us dancing. The closing number, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” was written and later released by Justin Timberlake. It won the movie an Oscar for Best Original Song. Poppy and Branch lead the trolls in a final dance to this feel-good tune, showing the once-evil Bergens that they, too, can find happiness inside themselves. The music lights up Bergen Town and gets everyone, including the audience, up on their feet. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is a song that manages to hold its own in a jukebox musical full of classics and showcase the awesome vocal talents of Anna Kendrick and Timberlake.
#8: “Oogway Ascends”
“Kung Fu Panda” (2008)
This hauntingly beautiful Hans Zimmer piece underscores the moving scene where Master Oogway leaves his earthly life behind. Oogway is the movie’s mentor character and a constant reassuring presence to Po and Shifu. But the old tortoise senses that his job is done after the discovery of the Dragon Warrior. As the peach blossom petals swirl around him and Shifu looks on in awe, Oogway ascends to the spirit world. We’re sad to say goodbye to a beloved character, but the peaceful melody, played primarily on the Erhu (AR-hoo), or Chinese fiddle, gives Oogway the send-off he deserves.
#7: “El Dorado”
“The Road to El Dorado” (2000)
“The Road to El Dorado” tells the story of two con men who find themselves in possession of a map to the legendary golden city. It’s a musical with songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, and a score composed by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. Songs such as “It’s Tough to Be A God” and “The Trail We Blaze” are catchy and fun. However, the colorful opening credits remain the most memorable musical sequence. Elton John narrates in song throughout the movie, but it’s during “El Dorado” that he first sets the scene, introducing us to the city of the same name. The fast-moving Aztec inspired animation is super eye-catching while the melody carries us right along with it.
#6: “Holding Out for a Hero”
“Shrek 2” (2004)
The first “Shrek” movie boasts one of the best animation soundtracks around, but the sequel has some fantastic musical moments too. Puss and Donkey close the film in an iconic duet of “Livin' La Vida Loca”, but the real stand-out performance comes from the Fairy Godmother. Jennifer Saunders voices the villainess and takes to the stage to sing Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero.” In the meantime, Shrek and the fairytale creatures attempt to storm the castle and rescue Fiona before midnight. The time pressure ramps up the drama of the song and the whole sequence is loads of fun. Saunders’ rendition of the classic track might just be the highlight of the whole movie!
#5: “When You Believe”
“The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
Every song from “The Prince of Egypt” is worthy of this list, from the highs of “Through Heaven’s Eyes” to the drama of “The 10 Plagues.” However, “When You Believe” became the movie’s breakout hit. It was recorded and released by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. In the film’s third act, the Hebrew slaves are freed, and the song begins quietly, a breath of hope and relief. As the people leave their houses and join together in a happy crowd, it builds to a triumphant ballad. The children’s choir and the lilting voice of the child soloist add a moving innocence to the moment.
#4: “Test Drive”
“How to Train Your Dragon” (2010)
The “How to Train Your Dragon” movies feature some truly beautiful musical pieces. The most notable is “Test Drive” which has now become familiar as a TikTok sound, if it wasn’t recognizable enough to begin with. In the original movie it can be heard as a theme throughout, but is most striking in the scene where Hiccup flies Toothless for the first time. This sequence called for a background melody that was uplifting and inspiring, and “Test Drive” more than fulfills the moment. In the sequel, the big flying scene is re-mixed and set to lyrics, while the original keeps things traditional. Composer John Powell made use of Nordic and Celtic influences in his score, for which he bagged his first Oscar nomination.
#3: “I Will Always Return”
“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” (2002)
“Spirit” is arguably Dreamworks’ most underrated movie. With an epic hero’s journey, some thrilling set pieces, and a killer soundtrack, there’s never a dull moment. Hans Zimmer provides the sweeping, Western-inspired score while Bryan Adams brings in a nice balance of rock. In the defiant “Get Off My Back,” Spirit refuses to be broken. Later, the melancholy ballad “Sound the Bugle” reveals that his trials are taking their toll. But, the soundtrack ultimately peaks with “I Will Always Return.” The final song is a soaring country rock ballad full of hope and rich imagery. It ends the movie on an emotional high.
#2: “Deliver Us”
“The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
“The Prince of Egypt” certainly takes the viewer on an emotional journey, but nothing beats that epic opening scene. “Deliver Us” tells the biblical story of Moses, who is sent away in a basket on the river to escape a terrible fate. Sung from the point of view of toiling slaves and despairing mothers, it alternates between a cry for help and a lullaby of hope for the future. Hans Zimmer’s music embraces Hebraic and Egyptian influences, and Israeli singer Ofra Haza pulls at our heartstrings in the role of Moses’ mother. The scene is a masterclass in powerful storytelling and the music is impossible to forget.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“"You Know Better Than I,” “Joseph: King of Dreams” (2000)
Joseph Finds Hope at His Lowest Moment
“Firework,” “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (2012)
The Circus Animals Show Off Their Skills
“Car Wash”, “Shark Tale” (2004)
This Classic Starts the Party at the Whale Wash
“For the Dancing and the Dreaming,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (2014)
An Emotional Reunion Between Hiccup’s Mom & Dad
The Sirens’ Song, “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” (2003)
This Sinister Melody Almost Brings the Sailors to Their Deaths
#1: “All Star”
The finale of “Shrek” sends us out on a high, with Donkey’s feel-good cover of “I’m a Believer.” And who could forget the swamp karaoke dance party? Even so, it’s the opening scene of this movie that’s truly iconic. When the ogre kicks open the toilet door and looks out across his domain, the scene and tone are immaculately set. Shrek’s gross-out morning routine and the feel-good Smash Mouth hit make for a winning combination. The song gets us pumped for the journey ahead as we’re introduced to our unlikely, but unapologetic hero. He might be a gross, smelly ogre, but with an intro like that, it’s difficult not to love Shrek right from the get-go.