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Ask Billboard: Disney’s Biggest Hits, From ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ to ‘Let It Go’ (2014)

Readers check in on "Frozen," Aloe Blacc's fast-rising "The Man" and the best-selling "American Idol" singles.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Dear Gary,

With the success of “Frozen,” which has spent two weeks (so far) at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, could you please provide a list of Billboard-charted hit songs from Disney films? Thank you!


Jesper Tan
Subang Jaya, Malaysia

Hi Jesper,

Great idea. You might also want to check out Keith Caulfield’s take on how the key song from Frozen – “Let It Go,” be it Idina Menzel or Demi Lovato’s version – has yet to find a home at radio. Menzel’s version is now being promoted to adult contemporary, however, so it still could. Arriving with built-in familiarity to families who’ve seen the movie, the melodic ballad could make for a savvy add on family-friendly AC stations.

In the list below, it’s easily noticeable that Disney chart hits are divided into two far-apart eras: the early ’60s, and then from the early ’90s on. Essentially (with assistance on this from Keith, who manages Billboard‘s Cast Albums chart, among others, including the Billboard 200), after Disney’s earliest heydays from the late 1930s (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) through the early- to mid-’60s (Mary Poppins), Disney continued to produce popular animated and live action movies (The Love Bug, Freaky Friday, The Fox and the Hound), but it wasn’t until The Little Mermaid in 1989 that one of its movies roared to all-out pop culture mass appeal once again, aided, in no small part, by its soundtrack.

“The return to glory began under the sea,” notes Brad Kane in this insightful piece. “In 1989, The Little Mermaid splashed into the mainstream, and not just because of its dazzling underwater animation. Nearly every Disney movie had included a trademark song or two, but The Little Mermaid was a full-on musical, complete with calypso ensembles. The soundtrack went on to win two Academy Awards: one for best score and one for best song, with two of its songs competing against each other (‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Kiss the Girl.’) So began the era of the Disney musical.”

Once Beauty and the Beast followed in 1991, with Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson taking its theme into the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10, Disney was dominating charts like never before.

I’m sure I’ll miss some hits along the way, so anyone please feel free to scold via email – – or Twitter – @gthot20 – and we can include more in the next “Ask Billboard.”

But, for now, here’s a look at some of the biggest hits from Disney theatrical films dating to the Hot 100’s 1958 inception.

Lights, camera … chart action:

“When You Wish Upon a Star,” Dion & the Belmonts, No. 30 Billboard Hot 100, 1960 (*The composition is originally from Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio.)

“Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah,” Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, No. 8 Billboard Hot 100, 1963 (*Originally from the 1946 animated movie Song of the South)

“Super-cali-fragil-istic-exp-iali-docious,” Julie Andrews-Dick Van Dyke, No. 66 Hot 100, 1965, Mary Poppins

“Beauty and the Beast,” Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, No. 9 Hot 100, 1992, Beauty and the Beast

“A Whole New World,” Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle, No. 1 (one week) Hot 100, 1993, Aladdin

“All for Love,” Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart/Sting, No. 1 (three weeks) Hot 100, 1994, The Three Musketeers

“Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Elton John, No. 4 Hot 100, 1994, The Lion King

“Circle of Life,” Elton John, No. 18 Hot 100, 1994, The Lion King

“Hakuna Matata,” Jimmy Cliff featuring Lebo M, No. 26 Adult Contemporary, 1995, The Lion King

“Colors of the Wind,” Vanessa Williams, No. 4 Hot 100, 1995, Pocahontas

“Someday,” All-4-One, No. 30 Hot 100, 1996, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

“Go the Distance,” Michael Bolton, No. 24 Hot 100, 1997, Hercules

“Reflection,” Christina Aguilera, No. 19 Adult Contemporary, 1998, Mulan (The song marks Aguilera’s first appearance on any Billboard chart.)

“You’ll Be in My Heart,” Phil Collins, No. 1 (19 weeks) Adult Contemporary, 1999, Tarzan

“Strangers Like Me,” Phil Collins, No. 10 Adult Contemporary, 1999, Tarzan

“My Funny Friend and Me,” Sting, No. 24 Adult Contemporary, 2001, The Emperor’s New Clothes

“I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme),” John Rzeznik, No. 10 Adult Pop Songs 2002, Treasure Planet

“Look Through My Eyes,” Phil Collins, No. 5 Adult Contemporary, 2004, Brother Bear (Follow-up “No Way Out” narrowly missed the AC chart. It’s a personal favorite, though, so I’m giving it its due with a mention here. Meanwhile, Collins could soon make a major comeback from retirement: “Adele contacted me to write together,” Collins just revealed.)

“Breakaway,” Kelly Clarkson, No. 6 Hot 100, 2004, The Princess Diaries 2

“Life Is a Highway,” Rascal Flatts, No. 7 Hot 100, 2006, Cars

“Little Wonders,” Rob Thomas, No. 5 Adult Pop Songs, 2007, Meet the Robinsons

“Now or Never,” High School Musical 3 Cast, No. 68; “Can I Have This Dance,” Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens, No. 98 Hot 100, 2008, High School Musical 3: Senior Year (*Of the trilogy, only the third version was released in theaters, following its two Disney Channel TV-movie predecessors.)

“The Climb,” Miley Cyrus, No. 4 Hot 100, 2009, Hannah Montana: The Movie (The song is Cyrus’ highest-charting hit released on the Disney imprint. More than half (24) of her 42 Hot 100 charted titles were released on the imprint, encompassing her TV and movie roles as (the late) “Hannah Montana.”)

“Almost Home,” Mariah Carey, No. 20 Adult Contemporary, 2013, Oz the Great and Powerful

“Let It Go,” Idina Menzel, No. 25 Hot 100 (to date), Frozen

“Let It Go,” Demi Lovato, No. 38 Hot 100 (to date), Frozen

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” Kristin Bell, Agatha Lee Monn & Katie Lopez, No. 60 Hot 100 (to date), Frozen

“For the First Time in Forever,” Kristin Bell & Idina Menzel, No. 64 (to date) Hot 100, Frozen (As Keith notes, with Frozen, a Disney soundtrack boasts four Hot 100 hits for the first time.)

And … a completely non-Disney-affiliated honorary mention … but, since we’re discussing Disney …

“Mickey” (Toni Basil, No. 1 (one week) Hot 100, 1982)



Excellent that “The Man” has made it into the Hot 100’s top 20. In my mind, that helps make up for Aloe Blacc not being given an artist credit on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!”

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Hi Pablo,

It still seems odd that Blacc isn’t credited on “Wake,” given that he sings the No. 4 Hot 100 hit’s vocals. Then again, Avicii is the DJ behind the song’s unique mix of folk and EDM, helping it to a record 20-weeks-and-counting reign on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

Plus, in November Blacc told Billboard that he sees an upside to the listing: “It’s one of those things where it’s bittersweet for the fans’ sake; I want my fans to know that I’m doing something new. But, I like the discovery. When I was a young kid, I loved the song ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ [by Rockwell], and I had no idea until much later that my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, was singing on the chorus. So, you never know; sometimes these things happen, and you get Michael McDonald singing a chorus you didn’t realize was Michael McDonald.

“Now you got Aloe Blacc singing a song that eventually you’ll learn is Aloe Blacc.”

And, now we have Aloe Blacc singing a song that is credited to Aloe Blacc. “The Man” ranks at No. 17 on the Hot 100, having surged 7-4 on Digital Songs (165,000 downloads sold, up 19%, according to Nielsen SoundScan). Eighty-five percent of its Hot 100 points are via sales, fueled heavily by its synch in Beats by Dre TV spots (which are scheduled to run through April).

We also now have Aloe Blacc singing a song that gives writing credit to two legends.

Thanks to the song’s incorporation of Elton John’s classic “Your Song,” a No. 8 Hot 100 hit in 1971, John and writing partner Bernie Taupin notch their first top 20 Hot 100 placements as writers since the former’s “Candle in the Wind 1997″/”Something About the Way You Look Tonight” became his biggest hit. It spent 14 weeks at No. 1 in 1997-98.


@gthot20 Hey Gary, @Phillips is close to becoming 1st American Idol to hit 5M sales in US w/ “Home.” Do you know how close he is?


Hi @PhillipReq,

“Home” is just 43,000 downloads away from hitting 5 million in digital sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Selling an average of roughly 6,000 to 9,000 each week in recent weeks, if it keeps up that pace, it could reach the milestone within the next two months – or before “Idol” crowns its lucky 13th champion.

Here is an updated look at the songs by “Idol” finalists to sell more than 2 million downloads each:

4,957,000, “Home,” Phillip Phillips
4,533,000, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” Kelly Clarkson
3,912,000, “Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood
3,573,000, “No Air,” Jordin Sparks (Duet with Chris Brown)
2,760,000, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” Kelly Clarkson
2,736,000, “Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson
2,482,000, “Blown Away,” Carrie Underwood
2,425,000, “Home,” (Chris) Daughtry
2,344,000, “It’s Not Over,” (Chris) Daughtry
2,268,000, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Carrie Underwood
2,245,000, “Tattoo,” Jordin Sparks
2,127,000, “Crush,” David Archuleta
2,118,000, “Cowboy Casanova,” Carrie Underwood
2,006,000, “Whataya Want From Me,” Adam Lambert

As for this season, not only does the trio of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and standout addition Harry Connick, Jr. (offering the most honest critiques since Simon Cowell left) make for a fun judges panel, but  some strong talent has already auditioned and received golden tickets.

My girlfriend, Michelle, and I are again staging our own “Idol” battle (not in singing – she’d win after one note), but over who we think could emerge victorious from the show in May. In our fantasy league for music geeks, Michelle has so far drafted Sam Woolf, Ethan Thompson, Malcolm Allen, Taylor Stearns, Rachel Rolleri, Briana Oakley and Jesse Meuse.

I’ve selected Savion Wright, Quiandra Boston-Pearsall, Remi Wolf, David Luning, Malaya Watson, Jade Lathan, Marialle Sellars and Ben Briley.

Somehow in our supercompetitiveness, we  allow shared picks, so we’ve also both added Kaitlyn Jackson, Keith London, Aranesa Turner and David Oliver Williams to our rosters.

… and, our favorite after the first two weeks of auditions: Melanie Porras

The competition (“Idol” and ours) continues tomorrow night.