Great Audition Songs from Animated Films

Great Audition Songs from Animated Films_550
Photo Credit: epSos .de via cc
There is no reason that every audition song needs to come from a stage show. In fact often singers will be asked to prepare a song from pop, country, rock or folk, so audition panels are not necessarily just after songs they will have heard before on the Broadway or West End stage.
If you look further afield you can often surface some real gems which you can take with you into an audition room and these are all songs which I have discovered in animated movies.
Disney films and other big animated musical films have been giving singers a wealth of great songs for years and some top musical composers have offered up their services to the Mouse-House and given us some wonderful movie moments. In recent years Broadway has looked to Disney for it’s big hits and very often a favourite cartoon will end up on the stage.
These songs need to be handled with the same maturity and preparation as you would a song from a show. Listen to the words, understand the character and the plot and the circumstances which lead to this moment. Treat the song as an audition speech and really act the story as much as you hit the notes.
Look around and you might just find you next favourite audition piece where you least expected to.
Musical Theatre Audition Songs From Animated Films
Audition songs are not only there to prove that you are a great singer, you should always choose a song which shows that you are a great actor too.

Disney films and other animated movies can really offer you some terrific songs which are full of character. Don’t become all cartoony though, act them as if the story is as real as possible. Understand the emotional truth before you learn the notes.

Treat the song as a monologue first and it helps hugely when you begin putting the words, and feelings, to music.

We would love to know what your favourite song from an Animated movie is, let us know via Twitter @actorhub.

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  • The Prince of Eygpt is a 1998 animated epic from Dreamworks which tells the biblical story of Moses and the Book of Exodus. The story follows Moses from being a Prince of Eygpt through to his destiny leading the children of Isreal out of Eygpt. The songs are written by the Wicked and Godspell composer Stephen Schwartz.
    This wonderful uplifting song is sung by Jethro a high priest and father to Moses’ wife, Tzipporah. Moses has gone into hiding and journeyed many miles across desert ro reach the land of the Midiantes – who worship the Hebrew God.
    Jethro sings a song of thanks to God and welcomes Moses into the tribe. The song is a celebration of life and noticing and celebrating all that the world has to offer.
    Stephen Schwartz has this to say about the inspiration for this song:

    That was actually the third song written for its spot the other two had more to do with the tribe welcoming Moses into their midst. It was Jeffrey Katzenberg’s suggestion that the song be more about the philosophy of Jetthro, the spiritual leader of the tribe. One of the directors, Steve Hickner, found a well known poem called “The Measure of a Man” which helped to inspire some of the specific ideas in the song.
    “So how can you see what your life is worth
    Or where your value lies?
    You can never see through the eyes of man
    You must look at your life, look at your life through heaven’s eyes”
  • “Glass of Water” is a song from the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (yes, I’m serious).
    In the song, the nefarious trickster spirit Discord (voiced by John de Lancie of Star Trek fame) is sick, so he asks his “friend” Twilight Sparkle and her sister-in-law Cadance for a simple glass of water, among other things. Hijinks ensue.
    The song was composed by Daniel Ingram and written by Ed Valentine for the episode “Three’s a Crowd”. It also marks de Lancie’s first solo number as Discord, performed in a sprechgesang style of half-speaking and half-singing.
    Beyond being filled to the brim with countless blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop culture references in the latter half, the song perfectly captures Discord’s zany, off-the-walls personality that makes him — and the show, to an extent — so popular. (It also helps that the role was originally created as a tribute to his role from Star Trek as “Q”.)
    ”I’d like that glass of water please
    Some magic spell to cure disease
    A firm ‘gesundhoof’* when I sneeze
    A fresh bouquet of roses

    Some lozenges will soon appease
    My wheezing when I start to sneeze
    A wig to keep me from the breeze
    And blankets for my toes-es”
    * “Gesundheit” meets horse pun
    Please note this episode aired early 2014 and so the amazon links are to songs from earlier seasons of this show, not this particular song
  • Kiss the Girl is a song from the movie and subsequent stage musical ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Disney.
    The song is sung by the crab Sebastian and is a calypso ballad encouraging a young man to kiss his female love interest before it is too late.
    The song was nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Song but lost out to another Little Mermaid song, Under The Sea.
  • From The Emperors New Groove, a Disney movie from 2000. This song was nominated for an Acedemy Award.
    The film is a ‘buddy movie’ telling the story of a selfish emporer of the Inca’s who gets turned in to a llama (as you do!) and ends up in the hands of the villager whose house he was planning on destrorying! We follow the two of them and their adventures during their journey home.
    Sting wrote all of the songs for this movie but had them all deleted during the troubled making of the movie. The only song which remains is this one which plays over the end credits.
    It is a lovely song. It is sung by the spoilt, selfish Emporer Kuzco once he has changed (both physically, into a llama, but more importantly he has changed mentally and has realised that this friendhsip is more important to him than anything.
    “But you were kind to me and you reminded me
    That the world is not my playground
    There are other things that matter”
  • Brave is a Pixar movie which came out in 2012.
    The soundtrack is very folky and therefore very different from the more traditional ‘Broadway’ sounding Disney movies. This song is wonderful and is a much more contemporary choice for an audition which will make you stand out at a casting. It is more in style to the songs from ‘Once’ than ‘Once Upon a Time’!
    The song is sung by the heroine of the movie, a skilled archer called Merida. It is sung at the begnning of the film when she leaves the castle and rides her horse through the forest shooting arrows and climbing cliffs and living the life she wants to live. She does not want to become a ladlylike princess, Merida is determined to seek freedom and live her own life with no expectations, duties or responsibilties.
    “Where dark woods hide secrets and mountains are fierce and bold
    Deep waters hold reflections of times lost long ago
    I will hear their every story, take hold of my own dream
    Be as strong as the seas are stormy, and proud as an eagle’s scream”
  • The ‘Toy Story’ movies are complete favourites of mine and they are movies which really touch adults hearts and emotions. Perhaps the most beautiful moment of Toy Story 2 is this heartbreaking song by Randy Newman.
    The song is sung by Jessie the Cow Girl toy who sings about how she was once loved but is eventually forgotten by her owner Emily.
    Although the song is sung by a Toy about her owner growing old and losing interest in her and eventually throwing her out as rubbish, the emotions in the song are completely human and ring true about any relationship breaking down and ending.
    If you sing the song with complete honesty and really try and connect with those feelings of loss and lonliness you will really connect with the hearts of any audition panel.
    “So the years went by
    I stayed the same
    But she began to drift away
    I was left alone
    Still I waited for the day
    When she’d say I will always love you”
  • Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame has songs written by Menken and Schwartz and this is one of the best in the movie. The story of this movie, which I am sure you already know, is about Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame and his struggle to gain acceptance into society.
    This soft ballad replaced the song ‘Someday’ as the directors wanted a quieter song to be sung in the cathedral. The song is sung by the gypsy girl Esmeralda after she has witnessed the terrible way that Quasimodo and her own people are treated by society.
    Stephen Schwartz explains the song like this: “Esmeralda’s first entrance into Notre Dame cathedral [where she is both] awed by the serenity and splendor of the place [and] brings with her a bitter and acute awareness of the injustice of her situation and that of her people and the less fortunate of society in general”
    In the stage version this song is sung by Quasimodo as well. Click to listen the stage version Hilf den Verstoßenen
    “I ask for nothing
    I can get by
    But I know so many
    Less lucky than I
    Please help my people
    The poor and downtrod”
  • Meet The Robinsons was released in 2007 and is loosely based on the book ‘A Day With Wilbur Robinson’. The films has twists and turns as the characters travel back and forth through time.
    The central character, an orphan, Lewis is desperate to be able to find out why his mother abandoned him and perhaps even stop her doing it. This song is sung at the very end of the movie when Lewis has come to a realisation that he must appreciate what life has given him and the family and friends he already has – and keep moving forward.
    The song is more pop-rock than traditional broadway musical, but could really suit the right voice and the right audition. I love it, I think it tells a story about living for the here and now, living for today and appreciating the ‘little wonders’ of life.
    “Our lives are made,
    In these small hours,
    These little wonders,
    These twists and turns of fate,
    Time falls away,
    But these small hours,
    These small hours still remain.”
  • Tarzan is a Walt Disney animated movie from 1999 with music by Phil Collins. The song won a Golden Globe and Oscar for best original song. A stage musical played in Broadway in 2006.
    The beautiful song ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’ is also known as ‘Lullaby’ and is sung by the gorilla Kala who is comforting the humna baby Tarzan whom she has ‘apodted’, she sings that he is safe and warm and will always be fine because “you will be in my heart always”
    The song speaks of that special bond between mother and child and how even though they are so different they can love each other. This version from the Broadway show is longer than the animated version and so is better for auditions as it has more variety and emotional range.
    “My arms will hold you
    Keep you safe and warm
    This bond between us
    Can’t be broken
    I will be here
    Don’t you cry”
  • Hallelujah is a beautiful song from Leonard Cohen which found fame through a cover by John Cale and has since been covered by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and Alexandra Burke.
    The song pops up a lot in movies and tv shows and Cohen himself has said ” “I was just reading a review of a movie called Watchmen that uses it and the reviewer said – ‘Can we please have a moratorium on “Hallelujah” in movies and television shows?’ And I kind of feel the same way…I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it.”
    The John Cale version of the song features in the 2001 film Shrek but Rufus Wainwright’s version appears on the soundtrack – Wainwright suggests this might be because of his open sexuality.
  • Joseph:King Of Dreams is a 2000 Dreamworks animated feature which tells the story of Joseph and his dreamcoat. The songs are written by John Bucchino who has written off-broadway shows ‘Urban Myths’ Lavender Girl’ and ‘Its Only Life’
    This beautiful song comes when Joseph has spent two years in a jail, imprisoned wrongly for a crime he did not commit. During the song Joseph nurses and grows a fruit tree in his cell and sings this song to God as he realises that he should just have faith in God and stop celebrating himself and have faith in God, the world and nature.
    It is a wonderful song, full of raw emotion and when sung softly with a gentle realisation expressed through the song it can break hearts.
    “I saw one cloud and thought it was a sky
    I saw a bird and thought that I could follow
    But it was You who taught that bird to fly
    If I let You reach me will You teach me
    For You know better than I”
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1996 animated Disney feature which has music by Alan Menken and lyrics written by Stephen Schwartz. The story is of the famous deformed bellringer Quasimodo and his struggles to gain acceptance into society.
    ‘Someday’ was originally intended to be sung by Esmeralda but was discarded and replaced with the song ‘God Help The Outcasts’.
    To understand the song you can look at the German stage version of the film. This song (translated as Einmal) occurs when Esmeralda is imprisoned and questioning her life and the world, she sings this song about how she hopes the world will learn after countless war and bloodshed to live with love and not hate.
    The song in the stage show ends with Esmeralda about to be put to death which makes the song more poignant and dramatic as it is possibly her dying wish for the world. Here is a link to the stage version Einmal
    Our fight will be won then
    We’ll stand in the sun then
    That bright afternoon”
  • Cats Don’t Dance is a Warner Brothers animated film from 1996. The film is set in a world where human beings and anthropomorphic animals live side-by-side.
    The film’s music is written by Randy Newman and interestingly the film is dedicated to Gene Kelly who choreographed the film’s musical sequences.
    This song is sung by Sawyer a female Cat. She is a cynical persian cat, cynical because her dreams of being a Hollywood star were broken and she winded up a secretary!
    The song is a lovely ballad sung by someone who has failed at her dreams again, and has a wonderful bluesy quality about it.
    “I never believed that there was a rainbow
    With a pot of gold at the end
    I’m much too smart for fairy tales like that
    Yet here I am again
    I thought this time, this time we’re gonna make it”
  • The Pebble and the Penguin is a 1995 animated movie from MGM. It is based on the true life mating rituals of the Adelie Penguins in the Antartic. The songs are written by Barry Manilow and this shy and gentle love song is a terrific choice for an actor who plays ‘best friends’ and ‘the guy next door’
    Adelie Penguins present a rock at the foot of their future mate securing their position as that Penguin’s lover! this could be seen as the Penguin’s getting engaged!
    In the movie the central penguin Hubie is shy, gullible and kindhearted and in love with the beautiful penguin Marina. This song is sung eary on in the film when the shy Hubie opens up to Marina about his dreams and wonders.
    It is a beautiful song which gives lots of room for character and acting to shine through.
    “Sometimes I wonder
    What the colors mean
    Why the sea is green
    Like your eyes”
  • Hercules was a 1997 animated feature film from Disney.
    This song is sung by a 15 year old Hercules when he realises he has the strength of the Gods, but this strength means it will be hard for him to stay with his peers and the townspeople. He sings this prayer to the Gods asking for their help to find a place he is supposed to be.
    This song is all about going for your dreams and therefore makes a great audition song as the emotions of the song will echo the emotions you are feeling!
    “I will find my way
    I can go the distance
    I’ll be there some day
    If I can be strong
    I know every mile will be worth my while
    I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong”
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is a 1991 sequel to An American Tail – the films tell the story of a family of Jewish-Russian mice who emigrate to the Wild West.
    This song is sung by Tanya, sister to the film’s hero Fievel, who dreams of being a singing star. She sings this song as she daydreams in an under construction saloon. It is also heard over the end credits sung by Linda Rondstadt.
    Dreams to Dream is based on a melody heard in the first movie An American Tail. James Horner went on to write the Titanic mega-hit lovesong “My Heart Will Go On”.
    The song is all about following your dreams and having faith that if you believe them then your dreams can come true. Perfect for an audition!
    “There is a star
    Waiting to guide us
    Shining inside us
    When we close our eyes”
  • This lovely song is from the 2003 animated Disney film Brother Bear, it was also recorded for the 2007 movie Bridge to Terabithia. The song is written by Phil Collins.
    The film Brother Bear tells the story of an Inuit boy called Kenai who hunts down and needlessly kills a bear. The Spirits are angry at this death and turn Kenai into a bear, in order to be human again, Kenai must learn to see through another’s eyes, feel through another’s heart, and discover the meaning of brotherhood. He discovers this through his friendship with a bear cub called Koda.
    This song is a little gem and really tells the whole story of the film, about looking through someone else’s eyes and getting compassion and growing from the experience.
    “There will be times on this journey
    All you’ll see is darkness
    Out there somewhere daylight finds you
    If you keep believing”
  • This is a lovely ballad from the end credits of The Tigger Movie from 2000. It is the only collaboration of The Sherman Brothers and Footloose singer Kenny Loggins! The film was originally intended to be a ‘striaght to dvd’ (or probably ‘straight to video’) title but Disney CEO Michael Eisner heard the Sherman brothers music and was so moved he decided to release the film theatrically.
    The story tells of Winnie the Pooh helping Tigger to search his family tree and find other Tigger’s like him. It is about finding and understanding the meaning of family. The whole movie’s premise came from the line in the Sherman Brothers Tigger song from 1968: “But the most wonderful Thing About Tiggers is I’m the only one…”
    The song is a beautiful song about knowing that you are never alone, as long as you remember you have friends.
    “There’ll come a day when you’re losing your way
    And you won’t know where you belong
    They say that home is where the heart is
    So follow your heart and know that you can’t go wrong.”
  • Mulan is a 1998 animated movie from Disney. The film’s title character is the only daughter of aged Chinese warrior. She impersonates a man to take her father’s place during general conscription to counter a Hun invasion. Along with her guardian dragon and a lucky cricket (only in Disney!) she battles the invading Hun army.
    Stephen Schwartz was given the job of writing songs for Mulan and wrote this beautiful number before Disney found out he was also writing for Dreamworks The Prince Of Egypt and gave him the choice to continue with them exclusively or leave. He left.
    Written In Stone is a song sung by Mulan when she changes into her soldier’s clothes for the first time and leaves to join the army.