No. 1 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse vs. No. 16 Hunchback of Notre Dame
I will always vouch for Hunchback, even if this match-up isn’t particularly close. The movie might be mediocre and forgettable, but the soundtrack hit the right notes for me. It opens on a high note with “The Bells of Notre Dame,” and “Heaven’s Light/Hellfire” contains one of the best villain songs ever, animated or not. There are some other good tunes in there, too, but it pales in comparison to Spider-Verse. It’s one of the greatest animated movies of the decade, dare I say all time, and its soundtrack is the top seed for a reason. I am the farthest thing from a Post Malone fan, but I have played “Sunflower” dozens of times. There’s a reason that song sat at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a week earlier this year. Put it together with “What’s Up Danger,” “Scared of the Dark” and “Home,” and you’ve got a juggernaut from top to bottom. This is no leap of faith.
Winner: No. 1 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
No. 8 Moana vs. No. 9 Coco
My dear friend and editor-in-chief of this website Hensley Carrasco singled out this contest when I sent him the bracket, saying I was about to start fights. Sorry, but that’s just how the seeding worked out. Both soundtracks have their heavy hitters. Of course, when you’re looking at which has the best overall song, it’s probably Moana. “How Far I’ll Go” can go toe-to-toe with anything Coco has to offer and then some. “You’re Welcome” is my personal favorite, and “Where You Are” is as catchy as they come. On the other side, though, you have “Remember Me.” “Un Poco Loco” is a lot of fun, too, along with “Everyone Knows Juanita.” However, the variations of “Remember Me” put Coco over the top. If you don’t choke up when Mama Coco joins in on the reunion version, get checked for a soul. I’m going with Coco in the upset.
Winner: No. 9 Coco
No. 5 Frozen vs. No. 12 Tangled
If I had to guess one potential upset for the audience vote in this region, this would be it. The general public soured on the Frozen soundtrack pretty quickly, owing to the ubiquity of “Let It Go.” I understand, believe me. My nieces played the song more times than I can count, grinding the disc into fine dust. I’m not falling for it, though. Frozen has a sneaky good soundtrack. “Let It Go” may be the most powerful song, but it’s far from the best. I prefer both “In Summer” and “Love is an Open Door,” and that’s not even counting “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “First Time in Forever.” Tangled is dramatically underrated, I will give you that. “I See the Light” is solid, and I’m partial to “I’ve Got a Dream.” However, it’s not as strong top to bottom and the villain song is weak. Reindeer are better than people, and the Frozen soundtrack is better than Tangled.
Winner: No. 5 Frozen
No. 4 Beauty and the Beast vs. No. 13 Pocahontas
This is one of those tournament games where the underdog gets out to an early lead, maybe 14-6, and makes a bit of noise. Then, the top seed recovers and blows the other side out. Pocahontas has some quality tunes. There can be an argument made for “Colors of the Wind” being the best Disney song ever. It’s easily one of the most recognizable. “Just Around the Riverbend” is catchy, too, and “Mine, Mine, Mine” is easily one of the most underrated in the catalog. That being said, Beauty and the Beast is loaded. The same case that can be made for “Colors of the Wind” can be made for three songs on the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack: “Belle,” “Be Our Guest” and the title track. Pocahontas makes a solid bid, but there’s just too much talent on the Beauty and the Beast roster to hold it down for too long.
Winner: No. 4 Beauty and the Beast
No. 6 Hercules vs. No. 11 Nightmare Before Christmas
Full disclosure: I have never been a fan of Nightmare Before Christmas. I get why its fans enjoy it: wonderful stop-motion animation that captures the feel of not one but two beloved holidays. The soundtrack is formidable enough to be one of the few non-Disney contenders to crack the list. There’s the obvious “This is Halloween,” and my personal favorite “Oogie Boogie’s Song.” There could be an upset brewing here, too. I just don’t see it. Hercules is one of my favorite Disney movies, and there’s no doubt it sports one of the best soundtracks. Take your pick: “Go the Distance” is up there as one of the best Disney songs; “Zero to Hero” packs quite a bit into two minutes and 30 seconds; and “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” is as much of an earworm as the first two, if not more. That’s not even counting “The Gospel Truth” or “A Star Is Born,” or if you’re a Danny DeVito fan, “One Last Hope.” Give this one to the (demi)god.
Winner: No. 6 Hercules
No. 3 Aladdin vs. No. 14 South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
If you can believe it, both of these movies were nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. Aladdin received two nominations in 1992, for “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me,” winning for the former. “Blame Canada” was nominated in 1999, but ended up losing to “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan. SP: BLU probably has the funniest soundtrack in this quadrant, and it’s been far too long since I’ve seen it. It just has an incredibly unfortunate draw. This is like getting Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils in the first round. It’s like winning your conference tournament and the Fab Five are waiting for you. Aladdin has a legitimate shot to reach the Final Four. “A Whole New World,” for my money, is a top-3 Disney song. “Friend Like Me” is a personal favorite, and “One Jump Ahead” is the most underrated in the House of Mouse catalog. Aladdin takes a magic carpet ride to the next round.
Winner: No. 3 Aladdin
No. 7 The Little Mermaid vs. No. 10 Mulan
I care more for the Mulan soundtrack than most people do. My girlfriend thinks “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” is overplayed, and I get it. She’s been dating me for five years and I’ve only played it 5 billion times in the car. It’s one of Disney’s better hype songs, but the only issue with the Mulan soundtrack is that there isn’t much else to it. Sure, you have “Reflection” and that’s a powerful song, but it’s pretty thin beyond those. The Little Mermaid, on the other hand, has plenty of memorable hits. There’s “Under the Sea” if you’re looking to dance, or “Part of Your World” if you’re looking to belt. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is also both very underrated and one of Disney’s best villain songs. Mulan can keep it close going into halftime, but The Little Mermaid pulls away in the second half. Ariel swims on past the round of 64.
Winner: No. 7 The Little Mermaid
No. 2 The Lion King vs. No. 15 The Princess and The Frog
The Lion King soundtrack’s staying power and loaded lineup earned it one of the highest seeds available. There are no holes in that track listing: Perhaps the best villain song ever written (“Be Prepared”); an incredible opener (“Circle of Life”); the hear-it-once-and-it-never-leaves-your-brain tune (“Hakuna Matata”); and personal favorites of mine like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” The Princess and The Frog soundtrack certainly has some substance to it. “Dig A Little Deeper” and “Almost There” are infectiously catchy, and “Friends on the Other Side” is sufficiently creepy. This one is easy, though. After all, if it weren’t for Spider-Verse coming on strong late last year, we would be calling it the Pride Rock Region.
Winner: No. 2 The Lion King
Editor note: These selections are round one of the Miles Morales Region. Jake will continue to break down round one of the other sections following this one. If you think some of his choices were wild, try making some selections of your own below. We’ll see you next in a different region’s round 1.