Music is one of the most popular forms of art in the history of the world. It can be sad, peaceful, or romantic. It can be fun, mysterious, or suave. It can be creepy, exciting, or intense. Whether you make music or listen to it, you can connect with it due to its power to translate emotions into sound. But for every popular song that rules the radio for a freaking eternity, there’s always a tune that recedes into the background. And today, we’re going to take a look at twelve of those songs (as well as a few honorable mentions).
12: Sally’s Song from Nightmare Before Christmas
Before making this list, this song was tied with “On My Own” from Les Miserables. While “On My Own” is good, there isn’t much to it outside of being a song about the friend zone. “Sally’s Song,” while also expressing the thoughts of a woman stuck in the friend zone, takes a different approach. When Sally isn’t singing about how Jack will never notice her, she’s singing about how much his behavior worries her. While she loves him, she can’t agree with all of the hasty decisions he’s made and it leaves her hoping beyond hope that everything will work out in the end.
11: Santa Fe from Newsies
Whether you go to the version from the movie or the Broadway show, you get two interesting takes on one character’s circumstances. In the film, Jack sings this after a day of selling papers and a quiet evening with his new friend’s family. While he’s sad that he doesn’t have a loving family like the one he just met, he puts his hope in his dream of going to Santa Fe, knowing that he’s so close to getting everything he wants. In the Broadway show, Jack doesn’t sing the song until after a failed protest, where one of his friends gets beaten and dragged away. This song is him getting close to a breaking point, and Santa Fe being his only source of hope. It’s a desperate attempt to grab something out of his reach, and the raw emotion tells you how much weight he’s got on his shoulders.
10: Threshold from Castle
Both versions of this song are featured on the episode “Famous Last Words” in the show’s second season. Though the song tells the same story no matter which version, the choice of who sings it offers an interesting take on what’s happened. When Hayley sings it, it’s just after she experienced something so traumatic she couldn’t tell anyone about it. You feel the emotion and you feel what this event did to her. When Sky sings, it’s after she’s had time to dwell on what happened to her sister and why. She sings as someone who’s gotten stronger from the experience. Though she’ll never forget the pain it caused everyone involved, she knows Hayley refused to let it break her, and the song is a vow to stay strong.
9: Candyman by Sammy Davis Jr
I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s jazzy, it’s upbeat, and I love how Davis has fun with the song, lyrics and all. And…yeah, that’s it. I’ve got nothing else. Next song.
8: Meeting Tom Riddle from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
It’s hard to talk about this song without spoiling the story, so once again I’ll keep the explanation brief. True, it’s creepy enough when you just watch Harry learning one secret behind a bloodthirsty monster’s history with Hogwarts. But it gets even creepier after you learn the truth about the person controlling the monster.
7: Dance Magic Dance from Labyrinth
Before coming across this song I hadn’t heard of the late David Bowie or seen the movie Labyrinth. Then I saw the Nostalgia Critic review, and now I want to remedy both situations. Yeah, the song is a little odd even for a movie featuring puppets. And yeah, it’s so catchy your brain will want to kill you after a while. But you know what? I’m okay with that. It’s still a fun way to summarize the perfect blend of galaxies that were David Bowie and Jim Henson.
6: Both Sides of the Coin from Mystery of Edwin Drood
Easily the most bizarre song in one of the most bizarre musicals in existence. And that’s no small feat.
5: Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance opening theme
Whether or not you’re a fan of the games, I’d recommend checking out the many music selections. They. Are. Gorgeous. The songs for battles, creepy atmospheres, small glimpses of hope, and sad moments are all beautiful to behold no matter what the occasion. In fact, when compiling this list, I had the best KH selection narrowed down to this song, Dearly Beloved, and Destiny’s Union. But in the end, I went with this one because, of all the music and all the openings KH has offered so far, this one gets fans the most excited for what’s coming next.
4: Vivaldi-Winter (1st movement)
Antonio Vivaldi wrote three movements of songs for every season, all of them dripping with atmosphere and wonder. And this one is no exception. Couldn’t you just imagine the first snowfall of the winter season while listening to it?
PS: If you live in Michigan and you know how bizarre Mother Nature was in the past few weeks (even for MI), I apologize for making you relive it.
3: Test Drive from How to Train Your Dragon
If there’s one segment of the HTTYD soundtrack that perfectly summarizes the relationship between the boy and the dragon, it’s this one. The flying scenes are some of the greatest scenes you will ever see in 3D animation, and part of it is due to having this song play in the background. You don’t even hear it until the second half of the first movie. But once it finishes, you get the feeling that this only marks the beginning of a beautiful adventure.
2: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas
Every song has a story, and this one has two. Inspired by the poem of the same name, Dukas composed “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” as an accompaniment to the story of a lad who tries to use magic before he’s learned how to control it. Eventually it got Walt Disney’s interest, and he tried to make a short flick featuring the story and the song. But after a while, he decided to turn the short flick into one of his most critically acclaimed movies, Fantasia, with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” featured as a segment in the concert-meets-cinema movie.
1: Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven
Like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “Für Elise” also has two stories to tell. The catch: both tales remain unsolved mysteries to this day. Though it’s rumored that Beethoven wrote this song for a woman (as the title implies), no one knows who Elise is. We have speculations, but since this song wasn’t released until years after the composer’s death, the inspiration remains a mystery. And if it is for a woman, it doesn’t sound soothing and romantic like Andrew Boysen’s “Song for Lyndsay;” it sounds cryptic and—arguably—a little sad. It sounds like the kind of music you’d hear when you’re looking at someone you don’t know but want to. But maybe that’s just me.
Photo source: https://library.uncw.edu/guides/music