TOP 5 DISNEY CHARACTER INTRODUCTION SONGS
Honorable Mention: "Daughters of Triton" from The Little Mermaid. In 45 seconds it tells you so much about the characters. Sebastian is a cocky, stuffy musician. King Triton is a hot-head... and has a weird fetish for alliteration. And Ariel, by not showing up on her debut, is a bit self-centered. But because it's rather short and incomplete, I couldn't put it on the list.
5) This Is Halloween (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
Like another song on this list, this one almost perfectly encapsulates the setting of the film while giving you a look at both the secondary characters and introducing you to the primary character. It also really sets up the tone of the film and really shows you how important Halloween is to this town, which of course is going to be uprooted a little ways in.
4) Honor To Us All (Mulan)
What I love about this one is that it's much more interested in sharing and introducing culture, since the culture has such a major part of what drives the story. Mulan wants to keep honor in her family and wants to make her father and grandmother look good, even if that means doing things she's not comfortable with or good at. It's a strong setup for how the world works, how women are perceived, what drives Mulan, and who a few of the other characters are.
3) When Will My Life Begin (Tangled)
This film is loved by many, but even those same people give it flak for not having the greatest songs. But I'll tell you what... I don't think this song in particular gets enough credit. I will spoil this now, but this song is going to be appearing on more than one of my lists in this little mini-series. Why? Because it's an incredibly multi-faceted song. It's doing so much in its 2-and-a-half minute run-time (and it has a couple reprises that go along with it, as well). In this particular case, you get a very catchy song that introduces us to our main character (and one of our secondary characters with the chameleon). It's a very tongue-in-cheek song full of so much cleverness and irony. You get a perfect idea of who this girl is, what she feels about her situation (even if she won't say it out loud--which says even more about her character), and what she wants most in the world. It's a fantastic introductory song for this character and her own personal setting that really illuminates everything you need to know about her before the story kicks off.
2) One Jump Ahead (Aladdin)
I love this song. It's so much fun, and it perfectly sets up our hero and his monkey friend. This song is a more... direct way of letting you know about the character. Aladdin sings about why he's doing what he's doing, and all the other characters--who apparently know him and his ways--sing about exactly what kind of guy they perceive him as. Thief. Scoundrel. Cunning. Quick. Clever. It's all there, told to you in song and shown to you at the same time. What's really great about it, though, is that after all of that setting up and stealing of the bread and whatnot... what follows shows his true nature as he gives up the bread to a couple starving children, proving that he's not the ruffian and street rat everybody else considers him.
1) Belle (Little Town) (Beauty and the Beast)
It's not only a perfect character intro song, but a perfect intro song to the film in general. It sets up practically every major human character (it doesn't show her father, but it mentions him). It's a perfect mix of telling us (through song) exactly what kind of people they are with showing us their personalities and letting us gather it ourselves. And it tells us what kind of people live in her town, which basically sets up the mob mentality later since even they admit she thinks very differently from the rest of them.