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Top 10 Saddest Disney Movie Songs

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Joey Turner
These are the saddest Disney movie songs! Have a tissue box ready for this one, because for this list, we’re paying tribute to some of the songs that played all the right notes on our heartstrings like only a Disney movie can. To narrow things down, we’ll only be covering songs from the ANIMATED films, and only ones that are/start off genuinely sad -not just to make you cry without the sorrow feeling. Also, since a few of these songs are plot-heavy, there WILL be spoilers.
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Top 10 Saddest Disney Movie Songs

There’s never a dry eye in the house when these tunes start playing. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Disney Movie Songs.





For this list, you’re going to want to have a tissue box ready because we’re paying tribute to some of the songs that touched on our heartstrings like only a Disney movie can. To narrow things down, we’ll only be covering songs from the ANIMATED films, and they must be genuinely sad overall or at least start off genuinely sad. Also, since a few of these songs are plot-heavy, there WILL be spoilers.





#10: “Go the Distance”

“Hercules” (1997)


Hercules always felt like a fish out of water because of his uncontrollable god-like strength. After one too many catastrophic spills, Hercules laments this frustration with a somber, piano melody –wanting to find a place where he can feel like he belongs, no matter how treacherous the journey seems. For the last two verses Hercules brings the tune up from an uncertain, quiet song to an all-out, triumphant declaration –more determined than ever to prove himself a hero and finally live in a way where he can feel accepted. You can’t help but sympathize with his situation, and cheer him on as he pushes himself towards his dreams.





#9: “Not One of Us”

“The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride” (1998)


Kovu was already under fire for being an Outlander, but after a horrible misunderstanding, Simba has finally had enough and he exiles the young lion from the Pridelands. The other Pridelanders condone this decision by joining together in an angry choir as they violently chase Kovu away. Their views are made loud and clear – Kovu doesn’t belong with them, he is pure evil in their eyes –just like Scar. While none of the main characters sing in this number, Simba’s shortsightedness was clearly a major influence for the lyrics. He never gives Kovu a chance to explain himself, and his distrust may have inadvertently doomed the circle of life as we know it.



#8: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

“Frozen” (2013)


After accidentally hurting Anna with her powers, Elsa isolates herself; but Anna still tries to convince her to come out and play for two uplifting verses. After the tragic death of their parents, however, those playful prods become tearful pleas in the melancholy final verse –Anna begging her sister to let her in when they need each other the most. Unfortunately, it’s far too late –Elsa won’t budge, too afraid to go near her sister ever again. This sob-inducing ballad was almost removed from the finished product, but it ultimately won the staff over with its creative imagery, steady story progression, and just how it subtly portrays a strong relationship fading away.





#7: “No Way Out”

“Brother Bear” (2003)


Kenai was transformed as punishment for killing another bear, but when he ‘coincidentally’ ends up befriending the late bear’s son, Koda, he can’t keep the truth hidden forever. During his confession, a sorrowful, regretful Phil Collins number plays over the scene. Some audiences didn’t appreciate how this ballad drowned out the dialogue of an intense moment, but they can’t deny how it matches Kenai’s inner struggle. He acted out of vengeance and betrayed the trust of someone who looked up to him; if he could take it all back, he would for his new little brother. Unfortunately, you can’t undo the pain you caused… but you CAN atone for it.



#6: “Someone’s Waiting for You”

“The Rescuers” (1977)


Poor Penny has been through a lot at such a young age – she ran away from the orphanage feeling like she would never be adopted –only to end up abducted by the despicable Madame Medusa. Heartbroken by her hopeless situation, she silently cries into the night air as a depressing melody plays over the scene. Despite its somber tone, the song carries a hopeful feeling – like a mother’s voice reassuring her that things will get better. It may not feel like much, but sometimes a little faith is all we can rely on. In Penny’s case, it’s faith that she’ll be rescued and one day finally adopted –because both might happen sooner than she thinks.





#5: “Remember Me”

“Coco” (2017)


We first hear the film’s most important song as a ranchero-style folk ballad, sung by the late Ernesto de la Cruz; it became his most popular song as he pleads to his fans to remember him when he leaves them. In reality, Cruz’s childhood friend, Héctor, wrote the song as a lullaby for his daughter, Coco –wanting her to remember him when he’s forced to leave her. While the backstory of the hit tune ends in tragedy, the song itself is a treasure – helping people cope with multiple situations such as unwelcomed separation, or even heartbreaking loss. The message is the same – wanting to be remembered until they can be together again.







#4: “Reflection”

“Mulan” (1998)


After an embarrassing incident in town, Mulan takes a slow, unhappy stroll through her garden –facing an identity crisis. She wants to make her family proud, so she pretends to be what her culture considers the perfect woman… but that’s just not who she is. On the other hand, if she acts like her true self, she’ll only bring shame to her family. Overall, this melodious moment of self-doubt really highlights the uncertainties of who we really are –unsure of what our reflections will show us. The deleted extended version expands on Mulan’s frustration at having to hide her true self, when she really wants to set it free.







#3: “God Help the Outcasts”

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)


After reluctantly taking sanctuary inside Notre Dame, Esmeralda prays a gentle hymn to God for those who have been mistreated in the past. While others pray for wealth, fame, and other materialistic things, this gypsy girl asks for protection –not for herself, but for all the outcasts who have faced prejudice and racism –including her gypsy people and a certain hunchback. This is unarguably one of Disney’s boldest songs –with a heavy, powerful message and rich with emotion in every line. This ballad also further cements Esmeralda as the selfless, empathetic woman that Quasimodo loves –it’s no wonder he can see Heaven’s light after she shows him kindness.



#2: “When She Loved Me”

“Toy Story 2” (1999)


Before Woody can leave to be with Andy again, Jessie reveals that she once had a special kid too – Emily- the two were inseparable, and always there for each other. But as Emily got older, Jessie became neglected; and just when it seemed like their connection could be fixed… the cowgirl doll was abandoned by someone she loved. This emotional piece could drive anyone to tears as it sheds light on Jessie’s traumatic backstory and abandonment issues. Some have even interpreted the tune as an uneasy love ballad, or a metaphor for parents watching their children grow up and move on without them –feeling unloved and not needed anymore.



Before we unveil our number one tune, here are a few heart wrenching honorable mentions.


“Goodbye May Seem Forever”

“The Fox and the Hound” (1981)




“Sally’s Song”

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)





“One Jump Ahead (Reprise)”

“Aladdin” (1992)



#1: “Baby Mine”

“Dumbo” (1941)


After a hard, mortifying week, Dumbo pays a visit to his mother’s cell. She can’t leave the cart, but she can still hold her child tightly with her trunk, rocking him back and forth for comfort. All the while, a soothing, reassuring lullaby plays, as if Mrs. Jumbo herself was saying how much she loves her little pachyderm. What makes this scene so heartbreaking is how unfair this whole situation is – a mother trying to protect her baby gets locked away for being a “mad elephant”, leaving the child to face harassment and humiliation alone with no hope of seeing her again …until he finally hits the big time.
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