Since the release of Toy Story in 1995, Pixar has become one of the most consistent film studios in the world. All of their later films have tried living up to their first movies—and most have succeeded.
For that reason, Pixar’s animated movies generate mass excitement whenever there’s a new one announced. But unlike parent company Disney, Pixar’s reputation for quality holds them to a higher standard than even Disney’s animated output.
One of the most magical parts of any Pixar motion picture is the soundtrack. The original songs. The tunes that stand the test of time and become synonymous with childhoods everywhere.
Let’s revisit some of Pixar’s best original movie songs. How many of these do you remember? For us, they’re Pixar’s best!
8. “Le Festin” (Ratatouille)
“Le Festin” is a joyous ode to France that evokes the spirit of Pixar’s Ratatouille and the classic life of Paris.
The lyrics to “Le Festin” tell the tale of Remy the Rat and his emotional journey through Ratatouille, spelling out his sadness at not being able to do what he loves most, as well as his hatred for stealing food.
Sung wonderfully by Camille and co-written with Michael Giacchino, “Le Festin” is featured at the end of Pixar’s acclaimed picture, showing the film’s events from Remy’s perspective.
7. “Touch the Sky” (Brave)
Brave might not have been the lauded movie that Pixar hoped it would be, but there are parts to it that retain the true Pixar spirit. The song “Touch the Sky” is one of those parts.
This song feels like it was meant to be in a traditional Disney film. It has all the elements of a character-building message while telling the story of the landscape in which Princess Merida lives.
It’s styled like a traditional Celtic folk song and represents the values of the film and its characters while remaining uplifting and freeing.
6. “It’s All Right” (Soul)
Jon Batiste, who performs the song, is a man who has the soul of a poet and the heart of a Jazz musician. Pixar brought Jon Batiste, Atticus Ross, and Trent Reznor together for this incredible film.
They take the audience through the life of Joe Gardner, a music teacher who yearns to play jazz music professionally—but dies tragically by falling into an open manhole. Subsequently, he tries to return to life from The Great Beyond.
“It’s All Right” sums up the feeling of the whole movie in just three minutes. It captures the uplifting mood while having an edge to it that’s slightly mysterious. Batiste, Ross, and Reznor all won Oscars for their work on the film, and rightfully so.
5. “I Will Go Sailing No More” (Toy Story)
Randy Newman’s work across all four Toy Story movies is outstanding. He has always been able to perfectly capture any moment with his music, emphasizing the heart of any given scene.
In the first film, when Buzz Lightyear begins to realize that he’s not really a spaceman but just a toy, he tries to defy what he now knows by attempting to fly off a high bannister and through an open window.
He, of course, plunges to the ground losing his arm in the process. Newman’s song “I Will Go Sailing No More” is a heartbreaking accompaniment to Buzz’s realization and failure.
4. “If I Didn’t Have You” (Monsters, Inc.)
A classic duet between best pals, “If I Didn’t Have You” is the song that’s sung between Mike and Sully that tells the audience of their friendship—a friendship that’s the centerpiece of the story, and one that changes when Boo comes into their lives.
The adventure that Mike and Sully undertake in Monsters, Inc. underlines their unbreakable bond, and the song shows it in whimsical spirit.
“If I Didn’t Have You” is sung by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, who you know had a grand time singing in the studio.
3. “When She Loved Me” (Toy Story 2)
Few songs can really put the audience in the shoes of a toy, but “When She Loved Me” is one that nails it.
As Woody tries to speak to Jessie about Andy, she begins to tell him about her own former owner, Emily. That’s when the film shows an entire childhood pass by in the blink of an eye.
The story of Jessie’s abandonment and her skepticism toward opening her heart again is tragic; however, it shows the audience just who Jessie is and why she’s so pained.
Written by Randy Newman and performed by Sarah McLachlan, “When She Loved Me” has taken on a life beyond the movie now, standing as a testament to the impermanence of childhood.
2. “Remember Me” (Coco)
Coco marked a return to form for Pixar, who had been in a critical slump for years prior to its release. This exquisite film tells the tale of a young boy named Miguel who wants to play music professionally, but is forbidden from doing so by his family.
“Remember Me” initially appears to be a song that’s simply there to be a part of the film’s general soundtrack, but we later learn that it has a far deeper meaning than that. It’s a song about love, regret, and sorrow, yet it always feels uplifting.
Miguel’s journey is defined by the song, and when he plays it for his great-grandmother at the end, it’s unforgettable.
1. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Toy Story)
The original Pixar movie song is still the best. It’s a simple one, but one with a message of heart and loyalty at its core.
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is Woody’s personal theme song, as it does define who he is as a character, but it also serves as the Toy Story franchise marker.
Written and performed by Randy Newman (also performed by Tom Hanks in some Toy Story 2 scenes), the song is a reminder of friendship and the importance of seeing it through, no matter what.
No other song in Pixar’s catalog of original songs is as famous as “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” and that’s because no other original Pixar movie song has ever been more meaningful.