Top Ten Best Deleted Songs

During the initial stages of filmmaking, the sky is the proverbial limit. No idea is too bonkers or far-fetched to shoot down. At this phase, anything can be tried, including music.

There are just so many songs written for Disney films that get discarded before they make it to production, and because these efforts shouldn’t go to waste, we’re here to commemorate ten of the best ones! So toot, whistle, plunk, and boom away to some of the best music that wound up on the cutting room floor!

10. Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip (101 Dalmatians, 1961)

After Pongo and Perdita rescue their 15 puppies (plus 84 more) from Cruella’s grasp, they begin their arduous journey back home, through the snow struck countryside, determined to make it back to their London home. Mel Leven, who composed the film’s three other songs (“Cruella DeVil”, “Dalmatian Plantation”, and yes, the Kanine Krunchies commercial jingle, too!), wrote a handful more that never saw the light of day. But arguably the most charming is “Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip”.

The song is an upbeat, pleasant ditty as the dogs cross the snow-covered landscape, anticipating to arrive home by Christmas. Its very title invokes a sense of jolly British humor as they “keep calm and carry on” through the cold.

Why it was cut: I haven’t found evidence to support this claim, but my guess is it didn’t match the tone of the scenes.

From the moment all 99 dogs leave the farm, the journey is shown to be a long and harsh one, never mind avoiding the wrath of Cruella and the baduns. Even the best moments of levity in these scenes don’t last long, instead showcasing how hard they have to work at herding the puppies, covering their tracks, enduring a blizzard, and how rewarding it is when they sleep in a barn. The point is to build rising tension to the film’s climax, as well as enforce the strong dramatic tone the film as a whole exemplifies. Adding a bouncy song, optimistically singing about how they’re going home in time from Christmas runs completely in contrast with the movie’s established sense of drama.

9. The Magic Key (The Sword in the Stone, 1963)

The Sword in the Stone‘s philosophy is about the value of knowledge and wisdom over barbarism and magic. Merlin maybe be the greatest wizard in history, but he’s come to realize magic can’t solve all his problems. When a little waif named Wart falls into his hut, he sees the potential inside him, and decides to nurture it. Perhaps one day he’ll draw out a magic sword and become king of Camelot, where he’ll eat Spam a lot and at his round table, sing rhymes that are quite unsing-Able.

But for rhymes that do work, Merlin breaks it down for Wart about how education is what he truly needs. The song is punctuated with “Hey-dum-derry”‘s and “Derry-dum-dee”‘s as he illustrates to Wart the importance of learning history, spelling, and more to obtain the titular magic key. It’s bouncy melody with a good message. Honestly, it embodies the film’s message very well, and it’s a shame it never saw the light of day until the 2000 Gold Collection DVD release of the movie, in the “Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers” bonus feature.

Why it was cut: According to Richard Sherman, it was necessary to keep the plot moving forward. As fun and as thematic as “The Magic Key” was, it ultimately stopped the story to have Merlin sing about the power of knowledge. I’m glad we got “Higitus Figitus” as a result, though, which ultimately was about Merlin packing his carpet bag so he could join Wart and head to the castle. Ironically, the rest of the movie has such a laid-back, directionless tone it wouldn’t have really mattered if they dropped it in anywhere else. As charming as “A Most Befuddling Thing” or “That’s What Makes the World go ‘Round” are, I wouldn’t have been too terribly upset.

8. Keep ’em Guessing (Mulan, 1998)

I remember being confused after Mulan that Mushu didn’t have a song. I mean, it was practically tradition: Sebastian did. Lumiere did. Genie did. Timon and Pumbaa did. The gargoyles did (Hunchback, not Goliath and co.). Philoctetes did. So why not Mushu? After all, while kids today might know Eddie Murphy’s musical career best as the guy who sings all those covers as Donkey on the Shrek soundtracks. The rest of us know Eddie’s chops best with his #2 hit single from 1985, “Party All the Time”. So why does Murphy’s single musical contribution get limited to the line “This guy’s got ’em scared to death!” in “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”? Well, it wasn’t always like that: At one point, Mushu was supposed to have a Rick James-esque number.

When Mulan shows her insecurity to Mushu, the dragon insists pulling off the charade will actually be pretty easy as long as he’s there. He laughs that yes, she’s most likely going to fail, but at the same time, she totally won’t. The storyboards show Mushu doing all sorts of visual antics alongside Cri-Kee, Mulan, and Khan. The lyrics themselves are chock full of cheeky Chinese references (“I’m smoother than ginseng”, “yin and yang? Ping and pong? Beef and broccoli?”, “Pull the silk over their eyes”) and winks to Mulan’s disguise (“Who wears the pants”, “reality’s a drag”…though I could do without him singing “If they don’t ask, don’t tell”. C’mon, nineties.).

Why it was cut: Co-director Tony Bancroft (And brother to Mushu’s supervising animator, Tom Bancroft) said it was decided to let Murphy sell his character by being himself, and letting the scene play out. As I pointed out, Murphy is a singer, too, but he also added it would help “Condense the film”, which to me says “The scene was dragging and something had to give”. And I kinda get it. After all, some of Mushu’s best lines would have been cut, including his famous “dishonor” diatribe.

7. Music in Your Soup (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)

Remember in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when Snowy was making soup for the dwarfs? They were so stoked someone made dinner that they swarmed the table, but the princess won’t serve them dinner until they wash their hands (Incidentally, given these dwarfs have white beards, doesn’t that imply they are at least in their sixties? A fourteen-year-old girl of average height does not make her a surrogate mother to seven senior who have been living in their own, however messily.). They head out to the water trough and scrub up, singing “Bluddle Uddle Um Dum”, and partake in numerous gags, particularly Dopey swallowing soap and Grumpy getting his comeuppance. But after Snowy calls them to supper, we don’t actually see them enjoying the soup. But we almost did.

When the dwarfs rush in, they immediately start slurping the soup. Snowy, appalled by this, teaches them the proper etiquette, which they adopt, but continue to slurp away, much to her chagrin. During this, Happy croons a chipper, upbeat tune about the joys of gulping down soup. The animation is varied and lively as the dwarfs come up with so many ways to chug it down with fervor. Grumpy, being his usual self, skulks in and eventually comes to enjoy the soup, too. Dopey, on the other hand, accidentally swallows his spoon, and begs for help getting it out. This is relevant because when Happy kicks it out of him, he expunges the soap Dopey swallowed in the previous scene, ending that arc.

The song is fun and cute, and wouldn’t have added anything more than four minute’s worth of dwarf slapstick, arguably one of the most fun aspects of the movie. There’s little to the song beyond singing about how fun it is to slurp soup in a musical way.

Why it was cut: The reason this ended on the cutting room floor is a pretty renowned in the Disney archives, particularly to animator Ward Kimball.

Ward, one of Walt’s legendary Nine Old Men, was the supervising animator for the sequence. It was one of his first major assignments (On their very first movie, at that!), so imagine his reaction when Walt summoned him to his office and told him the whole segment was getting the axe. His reasoning? “We’ve got to get back to the witch”. Because it was Walt’s first movie, he was hyper-careful about every aspect of the film and spent $1.5 million on it despite budgeting it at $250,000. Concerned about the movie’s pacing, he told Ward he didn’t want the movie’s plot to stall, no matter how funny it was.

After the sequence got cut, Ward was set on quitting, and made his way Walt’s office again to turn in his resignation. Instead, Walt gave him an assignment on their next project, Pinocchio. He wanted Ward to draw a character who lasted all of a paragraph in Collodi’s book. Jiminy Cricket was thus created, and Ward drew many more characters from that day forward, directed two Academy Award-winning shorts, and retired – not resigned – from the studio in 1973.

6. Song of the Seeonee (The Jungle Book, 1967)

If there’s one group of characters I feel got the shaft in the adaptation of the Kipling novel, it’s Mowgli’s wolf family. In the book, Mowgli grows incredibly close to former pack leader Akela and his sibling Grey Brother and they go in many adventures together alongside Baloo and Bagheera. Frankly, it’s surprising the wolves only have one scene, and it’s just Akela and Mowgli’s father, Rama. I mean, Mowgli only spent ten years being raised by his lupine brethren, but yeah, it’s his relationship with the bear that’s more important. Heck, they don’t even get as much as a token mention in the sequel.

Early on, a bunch of songs were written for the movie, but only one focused on the wolves. This song uses real wolf howls to accentuate the authenticity (For as much as I love this movie, authenticity is something it seriously lacks.), and they themselves are the song of the Seeonee jungle. This song is basically a noble theme to the pride of the wolf pack. Out of tone with the rest of the film? Sure, but I would have loved to have seen a little more of the pack and its culture, especially as the family that raised Mowgli. The song even sings in defiance of Shere Khan by singing “The tiger may be king when he fights alone, but the tiger fears the pack”. As great as this line is, it flies in the face of Akela’s assertion that Mowgli couldn’t stay with them because “The strength of the pack is no match for the tiger”. Would have been cool.

Why it was cut: Terry Gilkyson wrote the songs for the movie during its first phase of production, when the perception of the movie was to imbue it with the same sense of intense, somber, grim, and heavy atmosphere the book was famous for. However, when Walt was shown the script, concept art, and songs, he hated it. He called Bob and Dick Sherman to write new songs, and they were instrumental in turning the film into the lively, jaunty, musical adventure we know today.

The Shermans are beloved in the Disney canon for all their great songs, and it’s well-earned. But only one song of Terry’s made it to the film, and it’s arguably the best known, best loved, and Academy Award-nominated, “The Bare Necessities”. It’s great knowing his contributions weren’t completely dismissed.

5. Beware the Jabberwock (Alice in Wonderland, 1951)

Walt Disney was pretty liberal in applying elements from Lewis Carroll’s works, both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Both books had a plethora of characters to work with, so arguably the biggest challenge was asking what characters should be left out rather than what characters should be in? Most of the ones from Through the Looking Glass were left in the books, including the infamous Jabberwocky.

For those who haven’t read the book, Alice stumbles upon a book with the famous poem, and is fascinated at the unfamiliar words in it. When she meets Humpty Dumpty, she has him translate several words of the first verse, and that’s the last we deal with the story of the son who ventured off the slay the horrendous Lovecraftian monster known as the Jabberwock.

Due to the poem’s popularity, and the Jabberwock’s potential as a cool monster to animate, it’s no surprise they worked at trying to give life to the mysterious galumphing beast. The song plays as a sort of playful warning to Alice should she not be good, she could very well expect the burbling abomination to come after her. The song uses most of the jargon made up exclusively for the poem, lending an air of authenticity (Which, much like Jungle Book, is something the adaptation lacked), and would have made for some incredibly silly or even haunting visuals.

Why it was cut: According to Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice, Walt ultimately decided “The Jabberwock was too scary or the sequence was too long”. I for one, believe it’s more the latter. I mean, Walt, the guy who gave us Dumbo‘s pink elephants, Pinocchio‘s donkey transformations, and Fantasia‘s Chernabog, thought an ambiguous dragon-like creature was too scary? Not to mention, Alice was already an episodic film, full of all sorts of off-kilter nut jobs, that it’s most likely he had to make some tough choices in what to exclude. In the end, the Cheshire Cat is left singing the poem’s opening stanza on repeat, and on the soundtrack is called simply “‘Twas Brillig”.

And it’s sad, too. I would have loved to have seen what they would have done to make the Jabberwock look as terrifying, intense, and creepy-

What the smoo am I looking at?

4. The Chimpanzoo (Mary Poppins, 1964)

As much as we enjoy the frivolous and magical nature of the practically perfect Mary Poppins, we often forget she’s a relatively strict individual who doesn’t tolerate rambunctiousness or unruliness in children. In an earlier draft of the scene with Uncle Albert, Mary becomes aghast at Jane and Michael’s unrestrained giddiness, to the point where she threatens them to being sent to the Chimpanzoo. The Chimpanzoo, she explains, is a place in Timbuktu where animals put humans in cages, and it’s they who pay admission to see humans act like, well, animals.

The intended focus is to dissuade to the children from acting out, and by adding “You may never play in the music halls in all your wildest dreams”, implies a sense of dread in being caged up forever. Still, the concept art visuals that were rendered show various animals in rather dapper outfits gawking at humans in silly cages, evoking a sense of cheeky merriment, similar to what we saw in the “Jolly Holiday” sequence. Plus, it’s a good ol’ Sherman Brothers song, so what’s not to like?

Why it was cut: I haven’t found any anecdotes one way or another why this song was cut. But once again, it was probably due to time. In the final film, Mary reluctantly joins the tea party and watches everyone get the giggles, and tries to encourage everyone to settle down by thinking sad thoughts, which only really works when she says they have to leave. This suggests that adding a song, complete with a fanciful animated sequence would have done little to enhance the story and just cluttered things up.

3. Never Smile at a Crocodile (Peter Pan, 1953)

When I was a kid, I had the Disney Sing-Along Under the Sea, which featured this odd tune. I came to really like it, even though I was confused why I never heard it in Peter Pan.I was accustomed to hearing songs on the Sing-Alongs that weren’t otherwise part of our VHS collection, like “By the Sea”, “Zorro”, “The Three Caballeros”, and “A Cowboy Needs a Horse”, but we had Peter Pan. So what was the deal?

On the other hand, it kinda was in there. Whenever Captain Hook’s nemesis lurked close, the music would echo the famous ticking beat, and the music would add a jaunty, alluring melody that I immediately recognized. Indeed, this song was written for the movie, it seems, but was taken out. Or at least, the lyrics were tossed out.

The song teases that a crocodile will grin and happily greet you, should you meet one, because all he can think about is how good you’ll taste. Thus, you must resist the urge to strike up a conversation…but for heaven’s sake, don’t be rude about it! (“Never run, walk away, say good night, not good day” and “Don’t be rude, never mock, throw a kiss, not a rock”). Years later, I picked up The Jungle Book 2 soundtrack that had this song, but added a verse that plays out like a Big Bang Theory joke: an overly gratuitous, scientifically-worded way of saying when you meet a crocodile, run. It was weird and random and didn’t mesh with the rest of the song.

Why it was cut: Frank Churchill, the song’s composer, was one of Disney’s best in the Golden era. He composed the songs for The Three Little Pigs, Snow White, Dumbo, Bambi, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, before he sadly passed away in 1942. Peter Pan was one of the many films slated to be released back in the early-to-mid-forties, but was delayed due to World War II, and Frank was set to write the music for it. This was the only song he wrote for the movie before he his untimely death, so it’s hard to tell why the song was truly cut out. As I pointed out before, the music plays as a leitmotif as Tick-Tock slinks into the movie, so at least it still exists in spirit.

2. Snuff Out the Light (The Emperor’s New Groove, 2000)

Disney villain songs aren’t that abundant, but the ones they do make make a heck of an impact. “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, “Cruella DeVil”, “Be Prepared”, “Pink Elephants on Parade”, and “Friends on the Other Side” are some of the best known and best loved songs starring bad guys singing to the rafters just how fun it is to be evil. At one point, Yzma, the sassy septuagenarian voiced by Eartha Kitt, was set to deliver a showstopping number celebrating her diabolical scheme. 17-time Grammy winner Sting wrote all the film’s musical numbers, including this one.

In the song, she exposits her backstory, how her father was the royal mortician who also practiced sorcery. This has led her to grow up in the palace and eventually become the royal advisor. However, with age comes…well, age, and she becomes stressed over her fading good looks. As part of her plan (Somehow), she turns emperor Manco into a llama, with greater designs down the road to summon the demon Supai, who will block out the sun. Why? She believes the sun is what’s causing her to grow old. True to classic Yzma, she admits she’s capable of anything including murder to regain her lost youth…but “You really can’t blame a girl for trying”.

What makes this song so fun is the arc it takes from a somber intro with Jazz piano, to a Latin infusion to eventually a horn-laden third where the enthusiasm goes off the rails. Yzma regales in every theatrical moment, particularly when she and a chorus of unnamed background singers have some incredibly potent and dark imagery of darkness and the monsters that lurk in it, such as “Bats and owls and coiled sea dragons, crocodile and carrion beasts, swirling in the growing darkness, join us in the coming feast”. Credit to Sandro Cleuzo for the animation of the dancers and Andreas Deja for his animation of Yzma.

Why it was cut: This song was part of the first draft of the movie, back when it was called Kingdom of the Sun. Peter Schneider and Thomas Schumacher, who presided over Disney Animation in the late nineties, didn’t care for the complex story, odd mythology, and the characters. Despite the 1,000 feet of animation produced, they were determined to shut it down. What was left over was turned into The Emperor’s New Groove, where Yzma’s motivation was entirely set on taking over the kingdom. Because of this, the song was scrapped, along with all of Sting’s other songs, and only two songs made it to the final film: “Perfect World” and “My Funny Friend and Me”, neither of which were written for the previous incarnation.

Kitt recorded the whole song, and it was even released with another deleted song for the movie’s CD soundtrack, “One Day She’ll Love Me”. It was even released on the Disney Villains: Simply Sinister Songs CD in 2010.

1. Proud of Your Boy (Aladdin, 1992)

I gushed about this song before and it stands today as one of my very favorite Disney songs ever. It’s just that good and deserves to be recognized.

In the original draft of Aladdin, the boy was still living with his mother and was responsible for running errands on her behalf. However, Aladdin’s impulsive nature often got him into trouble and ended disappointing his mother, despite his best efforts. At one his lower points, Aladdin sings this song, promising to do better. He knows he screws up. He knows he screws up a lot. But this song is a promise to do better and someday make her proud of him.

This song is gorgeous. I think we all go through a period where we live and die by our parents’ pride, and we reflect on it as a way to judge our character. Here, Aladdin understands the stress he puts on his mother, and he will make good, “cross his stupid heart”. It’s haunting in that respect, and you feel the weight in every word as he pledges that things will change, and you feel it isn’t an empty promise.

Why it was cut: Aladdin’s mother was a prominent character in the original draft, when Aladdin was younger and Jasmine wasn’t really created. When Jasmine was added, and Aladdin’s goal grew more toward winning the heart of the princess, the mother’s role diminished. Eventually, the story was overhauled completely, and she didn’t make the final cut. To hear John Musker and Ron Clements tell it, they didn’t want to lose the song, and there was even a proposal to have him sing it to her in heaven before it was discarded entirely. Another song, “You Can Count on Me” was composed in its place as a slightly more positive number Aladdin sang to Abu, and that was scrapped, too. In the end, Aladdin sings a somber reprise of “One Jump Ahead”, contrasting the frenetic energy and tone of the previous scene. Another full-length song so soon after that one might have been a bit much, but I’m still no less disappointed it got the axe. “Proud of Your Boy” has been released in multiple forms, not least of which a cover done by American Idol winner Clay Aiken. Though for my money, the demo track sung by composer Alan Menken is the best, full of the rawest emotion and so much said with so little.

*************

And that pretty much settles it! Did I miss one you liked? “Beyond the Laughing Sky”? “High Adventure”? “You’re Never Too Old to be Young”? “Silence is Golden”? “Warthog Rhapsody”? “Brothers All”? There’s almost too many to count, but I thought these ten deserved some time in the spotlight. See ya next time, guys!

Author: TAP-G

Writer, former podcaster, entertainment enthusiast. Movies and media have the power to shape our world and vice versa. Let’s take a deeper look at them.

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