The Disney animated musical fantasy film Aladdin was a hit back in 1992, so it’s no surprise that the movie was resurrected by Guy Ritchie and turned into a live action interpretation this year. The movie has, unsurprisingly, beaten all expectations at the box office to become a bona fide Disney hit.
The story follows Aladdin, an Arabian street urchin who gets caught up with a princess, an evil Royal Vizier, and a magic lamp that can grant him three wishes. A story about love, acceptance, and power; it hits every emotion. Aladdin was watched by many upon its release, becoming the highest-grossing film of that year and earning $504 million at the worldwide box office. Winning a pair of Academy Awards, it was the highest-grossing animated film of all time until The Ling King debuted.
But what really takes Aladdin to another level is its amazing soundtrack, with the musical score written by Alan Menken. In fact, the film’s theme song, A Whole New World, was the first song from a Disney feature to earn a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The best tunes appear in both the original and the new live-action remake, and the latter adds a new solo for Princess Jasmine.
With that said, here’s a look at the 10 best songs from Aladdin, ranked.
10 Legend of the Lamp
It’s not so much a song as it is a spoken word poem, done with gusto by Robin Williams, who voiced the Genie in the original 1992 animated film. In the tune, a peddler tries to explain how the whole concept of the lamp, which has been hidden away in the Cave of Wonders for thousands of years, works.
Compared to some other songs in Aladdin, "Legend of the Lamp" can be somewhat overshadowed. Nevertheless, it is among the most story-relevant pieces on the entire soundtrack and does a fantastic job of helping to establish the movie's tone.
9 Jafar’s Hour
A darker take on the tune "Prince Ali," this one is sung when Aladdin shows up with full glitz and glamour, pretending to be a prince. Sung by Jafar, the power-hungry second-hand to the sultan reveals the supposed prince’s true identity to princess Jasmine in an effort to get his way and take over as sultan.
Even if the live-action rendition of Jafar leaves something to be desired, this perception may have a lot to do with the animated version's memorable performance. He just screams "evil" and no song showcases that aspect better than "Jafar's Hour."
8 To Be Free
With lyrics cut to avoid this tune getting lost between two other major ones in the film – Friend Like Me and Prince Ali – the instrumental tune served as a backdrop for the Genie and his sad state of affairs. While he has an upbeat personality, he really, truly just wants to be free from the lamp and his “phenomenal powers, but itty bitty living space.”
Some of the lyrics, which have been sung in other productions like Disney On Ice, include “there’s no desire I hold fonder than to be, simply me, to be free.”
Sung in the new live-action version of the film by Naomi Scott as princess Jasmine, this song represented the first powerful ballad for the female lead. Not appearing in the original film, Jasmine belts this tune out as she struggles with her desire to be taken seriously and be more than just someone’s wife.
An important ballad at a time when women’s rights are at the forefront, she sings powerful lyrics like “I won’t be silenced, you can’t keep my quiet, won’t tremble when you try it, All I know is I won’t go speechless.”
6 Arabian Nights
A classic tune, appearing in both the original and the live action, this song provides a perfect backdrop for the Middle Eastern-themed film, describing life in the fictional town of Agrabah, including the intense heat, day and night, sand, and caravan camels. The chorus: “Arabian nights, like Arabian days, more often than not are hotter than hot in a lot of good ways.”
Understandably, Aladdin's earliest songs prioritize developing this particular universe, so the audience becomes better accustomed to the trials and tribulations of living in Agrabah. "Arabian Nights" does its job brilliantly.
5 Prince Ali
You can’t help but want to jump to your feet and dance (or at least bop in your seat) at this upbeat track that appears in both films as Prince Ali (a.k.a. Aladdin) arrives in his horse-drawn carriage, joined by members of his entourage singing and dancing about the “fabulous he, Ali Ababwa.” Talk about an entrance!
Of course, it was all fake, with the Genie setting Aladdin up to look like a prince from the made-up town of Ababwa in order to win the favor of the princess. He gives Aladdin a lot to live up to with the lyrics, claiming he’s “strong as ten regular men,” and has everything from 75 golden camels to 53 purple peacocks.
4 One Jump Ahead
Famous for the lines “riff rat, street rat,” this song, sung by Aladdin as he jumps, weaves, and dodges people chasing him like he’s a Middle Eastern Spider-Man; "One Jump Ahead" is a great tune that describes what everyday life is like for the street urchin.
Evading capture from people in the market from whom he likely stole something (or Abu the monkey did!), he just feels misunderstood and lonely, having lost both his parents. If only they could understand that he just needs to eat, and to eat, he must steal.
3 A Whole New World
Originally recorded by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga, with a single released by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, this beautiful ballad is a duet between Aladdin and Jasmine as they soar away on the magic carpet. Aladdin shows Jasmine all the beauty she’s been missing, and Jasmine longs to get out into the real world and be more than a princess in a tower.
"A Whole New World" is a classic song and one of Disney's defining moments. Along with the sweet lyrics, the visuals are also spot on.
2 A Whole New World (new version)
This tune deserved a second entry because the song has been reinvented for a new generation with the new live-action film, sung by Zayn Malik, formerly of One Direction, and Zhavia Ward. It’s a classic tune that anyone over the age of 30 knows every word to.
While we'd argue nothing can beat the original version with Bryson and Belle, with these two, hot artists singing a rendition, it’s bound to enjoy a resurgence as a modern favorite.
1 Friend Like Me
There’s no way any tune can beat this iconic song, sung by the late Robin Williams in the original, with a slightly revised version appearing in the new live-action film, sung (and rapped) by Will Smith, as well as rapped as part of the end credits along with DJ Khaled. The Genie enthusiastically describes just how great a friend he will be to Aladdin, fueled by his tremendous powers to grant any wish his master requests.
Complete with big band sound, the comedic lyrics include “Life is your restaurant and I’m your maitre d’. C’mon, whisper what it is you want. You ain’t never had a friend like me.”