Almost every great Disney character has an “I Want” song. An ode, operetta or full-blown ballad where the main character bursts into song revealing their innermost desires. Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” just wants to be where the people are in “Part of Your World,” Moana wants to know how far she’ll go, and “Beauty and the Beast’s” Belle is tired of the poor, provincial town where she lives.
But which Disney main character (in your opinion) has the very best “I Want” breakout hit? Listen to some favorites and let us know who you think has the best “I Want” song in the poll below.
“Beauty and the Beast” | 1991
The first singing number in “Beauty and the Beast,” “Belle” packed a lot of information into one song. It introduced audiences to Belle, the book-loving “beauty” the townspeople just don’t understand. It also made the narcissistic villain Gaston and his intentions known. He has plans, “to woo and marry Belle,” and naturally our heroine wants none of it.
Fun fact, “Belle” was one of the “Beauty and the Beast” songs nominated for the Academy Award for original song alongside “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Moana” | 2016
The most recent Disney princess, Moana, is torn between her love for her island and her desire to explore the ocean beyond the horizon.This anxiety is beautifully depicted in “How Far I’ll Go,” written and produced by “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Even though she loves her family and understands she has a role to fulfill on her island, Moana can’t fight her passion to explore what exists beyond where the sky meets the sea.
“Frozen” | 2013
“Frozen” numbers “Let It Go” and “For the First Time in Forever” could be considered the more traditional “I Want” songs, but the exceedingly catchy “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” is a musical microcosm of the whole film. Anna is lonely, misses her sister and just wants to spend time with her. Meanwhile Elsa is afraid she’ll hurt others with her magical snow powers. Will the two ever meet to build their snowman?
“Tangled” | 2010
Sequestered in a tower, Rapunzel is just wants to know “When Will My Life Begin?” Until that day arrives, she’ll always have this adorable song that reveals how the princess fills her time (puzzles, baking, a bit of ballet and lots and lots of brushing).
“The Princess and the Frog” | 2009
Tiana’s dream is to open her own restaurant. and in “Almost There” she sings about how close she is to making this dream a reality. Unlike many other Disney “I Want” songs, Tiana is shown to be actively pursuing her own dreams instead of just waiting for some sort of change to magically happen.
“Mulan” | 1998
Mulan struggles with the expectations of what it means to be a perfect bride and perfect daughter. The disconnect she feels between these roles and her true self, as well as her fear of disappointing her family, is explored in “Reflection.”
“Hercules” | 1997
“I Want” songs are not just for female protagonists. Hercules sings about his struggles of fitting in and his hopes to find a place where he is meant to be in “Go the Distance.” Even heroes with godlike strength just want to find a place where they belong.
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” | 1996
Quasimodo’s “Out There” is perhaps the most devastating of all the “I Want” ballads. The Hunchback of Notre Dame just dreams of one day being “normal,” of being able to live for a day unnoticed among the masses outside of his tower. The song was also featured in the stage adaptation, which starred Michael Arden as Quasimodo during the original U.S. run.
“Pocahontas” | 1995
Pocahontas, similar to later Disney characters Mulan and Moana, is caught between what is expected of her culturally and her personal desire to be true to her inner self. Pocahontas sings about how she must decide between the status quo and ever knowing what’s “Just Around the Riverbend.”
“The Lion King” | 1994
Simba’s understanding of what he thinks it means to lead his pride is revealed in “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.” Of course, as a young cub, Simba imagines being in charge means being free to do what he wants with nobody telling him what he can or cannot do rather than understanding that as king he would assume a whole new set of responsibilities.
“The Little Mermaid” | 1989
Ariel just wants to be where the people are (and she wants to see them dancing). “Part of Your World” shows audiences that Ariel is full of curiosity and wonder when it comes to humans, their inventions and life on the shore up above. Even before rescuing a prince and falling in love, all Ariel wants is to explore the human world.
“Sleeping Beauty” | 1959
In “I Wonder,” Briar Rose (nee Princess Aurora) just can’t help but wonder if there isn’t someone out there ready to sing her a love song. It’s a theme that is revisited in “Once Upon a Dream.”
“Cinderella” | 1950
Cinderella is a dreamer who believes that as long as you have faith “your rainbow will come smiling through.” “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” shows audiences how it is that Cinderella can keep going, no matter what life throws at her.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” | 1937
Disney’s very first animated movie princess Snow White sings about her desire to meet and marry her prince in “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” At least her dreams came true.