Fifteen years ago today, DreamWorks released The Prince of Egypt — an epic Exodus adaptation with an incredible cast, including (but not limited to) Val Kilmer, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ralph Fiennes, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, and Patrick Stewart. (Seriously, how great would it be to have a dinner party with that group?)
But the people who are perhaps most responsible for The Prince of Egypt’s legacy don’t even appear in the film: They’re Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, the voices behind a little diva duet to end all diva duets called “When You Believe.”
This unforgettable power ballad — performed by Whitney and Mariah during the movie’s end credits and Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky in the film itself — proves that while Disney has certainly cornered the market on animation, non-Disney studios have also made their fair share of memorable animated musicals. (One common thread between several of those movies: Animation legend Don Bluth, who started out at the House of Mouse before striking out on his own in 1979.) So in honor of Prince‘s anniversary, EW’s Hillary Busis and Marc Snetiker decided to rank our favorite tunes from outside the Disney oeuvre. Note: We’re only counting diegetic music, meaning songs like Diana Ross’ “If We Hold On Together” from The Land Before Time didn’t make the cut. Sorry, Ducky.
10. “Down, Down to Goblin Town,” The Hobbit
Before Peter Jackson transformed J.R.R. Tolkien’s most accessible story into a bloated trilogy, the tale was brought to life by Rankin/Bass Productions in a charmingly low-fi feature-length TV special. (Also? It’s only 77 minutes long. Just saying.) The highlight: Bilbo and co. get captured by scary goblins, who sing a jaunty tune that boasts lyrics based on a Tolkien poem. In other words, it’s got more geek cred than anything else on this list.
9. “Toxic Love,” Ferngully
This scary little gem features Tim Curry as a horrifying toxic-sludge mess who wreaks havoc on a rainforest whilst waxing Frank-N-Furter. Minus points for childhood nightmares; plus points for Curry.
Honorable Mention: “Batty’s Rap” (feat. rapping Robin Williams!)
8. “Let Me Be Your Wings,” Thumbelina
Prince Cornelius can show Thumbelina the world! Shining, shimmering, splendid! Seriously, though, this is one romantic tune. We’d expect nothing less from schmaltzy troubadour/Thumbelina composer Barry Manilow. (Also — does Thumbelina sound familiar? That’s because she’s voiced by Jodi Benson, a.k.a. Ariel the Little Mermaid.)
Honorable Mention: “Marry the Mole,” a Razzie winner sung by Carol Channing. CAROL CHANNING.
7. “Sun Do Shine,” Rock-a-Doodle
One of the more obscure choices on our list is this delightfully fowl toon about a rooster named Chanticleer who saves a farm with his rock-and-roll voice. T.J. Kuenster’s songs are delicious throwbacks to the sounds of Elvis. Plus, Christopher Plummer plays an evil owl — so there’s that.
Honorable Mention: “Treasure Hunting Fever”
6. “This Is My Idea,” The Swan Princess
Now that’s storytelling. In just seven-ish minutes, this bravura sequence manages to blaze through, like, 10 years of exposition — all set to an exceedingly catchy tune. It’s like When Harry Met Sally…, only condensed, and Harry and Sally are both royalty. Also there are more tomatoes.
Honorable Mention: “Princesses on Parade,” the campiest animated sequence this side of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
5. “It’s a B-Movie,” The Brave Little Toaster
One of Marc’s favorites from childhood (despite its inherent terror) is this ghoulish chorus number featuring a group of disfigured appliances. Think “Thriller” meets the Island of Misfit Toys, by way of a 110V AC outlet.
Honorable Mention: “Cutting Edge”
4. “Once Upon a December,” Anastasia
The music in Anastasia: so good! The movie’s best song, though, has to be this sweeping waltz, which sounds like a standard that’s existed forever (instead of just since 1997). Props also must go to Liz Callaway’s lovely vocals, which strike just the right yearning note. (She did the singing for Odette in The Swan Princess as well. Girl’s basically the Marni Nixon of ’90s animation.)
3. “Somewhere Out There,” An American Tail
Do your eyes fill with tears at the mere sight of this song’s title? Congratulations; you’ve got two ears and a heart. Seriously, somebody hand me a tissue. Like, now.
Honorable Mention: “There Are No Cats in America,” ethnic mouse stereotypes and all.
2. Anything from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Be it “Uncle F—er,” “Mountain Town,” “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” or any of the film’s nine other fantastic original songs — including its incredible Les Mis parody, seen above — the South Park team knocked it out of the park with their 1999 ode to musical theater. It’s no surprise that the score’s so catchy, since the songs were handled by Broadway aficionado Trey Parker and Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman. The legendary Stephen Sondheim is reportedly a massive fan of the film.
1. “When You Believe,” The Prince of Egypt
This optimistic goosebump-giver is perfection outside the film, as we know from Mariah and Whitney’s soaring version. But it’s also the actual movie’s musical highlight. (Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.) Considering the song was written by Wicked and Pippin maestro Stephen Schwartz, are you surprised at how good it is? We were singing this on repeat long before we knew we could.
Honorable Mention: “Through Heaven’s Eyes”