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5 Great Motivational Songs from Children’s Movies

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently moved all the way from Washington state (aka the frozen north) to Texas (aka that place where you have to say “Yeehaw” and fire two pistols into the air every time you mention the Lone Star state by name). For me, one of the scariest parts of the move was learning how to drive on 75 mph highways and crowded freeways over the course of my 4 day road trip. You see, I’d previously only lived in towns where we traversed our dirt roads by mule-drawn cart, so adjusting to modern transportation systems was quite daunting. Therefore, to keep myself from losing heart as I practiced merging and attempted to overtake lumber trucks, I shakily sang to myself. And the songs I sang were those of the most inspirational, most emotionally-charged, most climb-to-the-top-of-a-mountain-and-rocket-into-space variety—songs from feel-good children’s movies.

(Note that when I call the following films “children’s movies”, I really just mean movies that are fun for the whole family. Or fun for single twentysomethings. Perhaps primarily fun for single twentysomethings.)

5. Seize the Day, Newsies

Takes Place When: Young Christian Bale rallies the newsboys of New York to go on strike after Evil Robert Duvall (aka William Randolph Hearst) raises the price of newspapers.

Why It’s So Good: A group of scrappy underdogs (led by Future Batman) are singing about what they can achieve if they just band together. And they also convey their message through a well-choreographed dance. It’s amazing how motivational an upbeat musical number becomes when there’s good dancing to back it up. And when Christian Bale is involved. Also, I checked, and Mr. Bale would have been 18 (aka of age) when he filmed Newsies, so it’s totally not weird for me to find him attractive in it. Right? Right??

4. Learn to Do It, Anastasia

Takes Place When: Demetri and Vlad have to teach Anya how to act like a princess before she meets the Grand Duchess. This occurs over the course of a travel montage that makes navigating across war-ravaged, continental Europe look like nothing more complicated than doing jazz hands across the stage at your high school glee club performance.

Why It’s So Good: The song itself is one of those kind of wacky, old-school musical numbers, like “Good Morning” from Singin’ in the Rain. You can’t help smiling when you watch it. Seriously, try it—I’ll lose all faith in humanity if you somehow avoid smiling. On another important note, Demetri is featured prominently in this song, and even at a young age I understood what a hottie he was. I looked it up recently and he was voiced by John Cusack, who is a real live person, so it’s not weird that I found an animated character attractive, amiright?

3. Go the Distance, Hercules

Takes Place When: Young Hercules realizes that he’s not just an awkward teenage klutz, he’s an awkward teenage klutz who could reclaim his place on Mount Olympus if he just tries hard enough and excels at some ancient Greek feats of athleticism.

Why It’s So Good: This is the ideal song for any sporting event that you might find yourself involved in. I had it stuck in my head for the duration of one of my 2-mile track races in high school (a race that was normally the bane of my existence) and I had a great time. Towards the end of the race I was so tired that I was borderline delusional, and I think I actually thought I was riding a winged horse across the finish line. Great time indeed.

2. Just Around the Riverbend, Pocahontas

Takes Place When: Pocahontas is trying to decide if she should get married, like her father wants, or if she should continue living the good life, running through forests and jumping off waterfalls.

Why It’s So Good: This song is useful when you’re in a situation where you’re nearing the end of an arduous task and you need one final reminder that damn it, you’re going to be able to push through. Actually, if you listen to the lyrics and take it within the context of the movie, the song’s more about trying to live a life where you push the boundaries of the unknown instead of going with the status quo, so if you could also use it for situations when you’re feeling adventurous. (Like when you’re trying to decide if you should put cayenne pepper on your turkey burger or if that’s just going to be too much of a crazy flavor explosion. Sorry, I panicked and that was the first anecdote about a personal adventure that I could come up with.)

1. I’ll Make a Man Out of You, Mulan

Takes Place When: Mulan is disguised as a man and has to prove her worth as a soldier through a rigorous training camp where she—I’m sorry, I’m getting all choked up just thinking about this song.

Why It’s So Good: Oh come on, you know why. I’m convinced that this song could be used to motivate anyone between the ages of 16-28 to do any gargantuan task that they never thought they could do. Hell, I power-lifted my car last week after listening to this song. Alright, that didn’t actually happen, but I bet I might have been able to if I’d tried. I think girls love this song in part because it’s about proving you can do anything that a man can (and even do it better if you just have enough gumption) and I think guys like it in part because it’s a great going-into-battle song. And vice versa. I mean, really you can like it for whatever reason you want to, as long as by the time the song ends, you’re feeling like you have all the strength of the great typhoon.

Runner-Up Song: “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical. Because Zefron’s right, we are all in this together.

Did I leave out your favorite motivational song from a family movie? Let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations!


About Madeline Jacobson

Saturated in pop culture since 1990. Writing about it since 2012. If you want to talk to me about anything I blog about, please do! Comment on my blog, or find me on Twitter @mjacobsonwrites

3 responses »

  1. Thank you for posting this! I really love all of these songs, and have them in one of my inspiration playlists on iTunes! I’d like to reblog it on my blog, if you don’t mind?

  2. Pingback: Great Motivational Songs from Children’s Movies « Stephanie-isms

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