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Thursday Treasures

February 16, 2012

Thursday Treasures: Disney's Sing Along Songs

By: Pedro Hernandez

Is everybody ready?
TO SING ALONG!
With Disney songs
The Disney Sing Along!
Now you at home can sing along
With your favorite Disney song
We will play every note
So you can sing along!

Just from reading those lyrics, you likely got a mad rush of nostalgia. Us Disney fans from the 80s and 90s will vividly remember the Disney Sing Along tapes. Before we even knew what karaoke was, we were already partaking in its basic principles. The idea behind the tapes is that they would feature a collection of songs taken from Disney movies, theme park attractions, and television series and specials, and lyrics would be displayed at the bottom of the screen so we could sing along, complete with a bouncing Mickey Mouse ball to guide us! These were hosted by the bird cast from the classic Disney shorts Adventure in Music: Melody and Toot, Whistle, Pluck and Boom. Every once in a while, Jiminy Cricket and Professor Ludwig Von Drake would host the videos. It was a very simple concept that a lot of kids really enjoyed for many reasons.

For many of us kids of the 80s and 90s, the Disney Sing Along tapes would often be the first exposure towards the latest Disney productions or classic films that were just being re-released in theaters or on home video. I remember learning about Oliver and Co. thanks to the tape based on it. I also discovered classics like Song of the South and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for the first time. The idea is a genius one as fans would get to be exposed to various Disney productions and inspire them to support them in theaters or home video. In addition to the tapes being our first exposure to Disney films, they were also the easiest way to enjoy the movies before they were released on home video.

Back in the day, Disney and movies in general would take up to a year to arrive on home video. This meant that we had to wait for The Lion King to see its release in 1995 when it was in theaters in 1994. It was an arduous wait because we wanted to see our favorite characters once again and be enchanted by the music and awesome scenes. Kids nowadays are lucky as movies will get released in less than three months after its theatrical debut, but we had to be patient. The Disney Sing Along tapes helped us cope with the wait. If we wanted to hear Genie sing 'Friend like me' we could easily do it. The tapes would be like a collection of Disney's greatest hits, giving us the scenes and songs we loved and remember the most in one convenient collection.

Disney Sing Along, however, wasn't entirely exclusive to the Disney motion pictures past and present. Many original videos were also released under the Disney Sing Along name, many of them telling a story in addition to the songs. Such is the case with Disneyland Fun, a tape that tells a story of a day at Disneyland with Mickey and Friends, highlighting some of the most famous attractions at the park. Pongo and Perdita, released around the same time as the live action 101 Dalmatians film, was also made up of original songs and characters. Finally, a Sing Along was made in honor of Disney's Animal Kingdom and features Flik from A Bug's Life as a main character.

    

The tapes were everywhere back in the 80s and 90s. With VHS technology not allowing the option to show lyrics on-screen as we wish it to, movies would often opt out of subtitles. So the best way to see the lyrics on-screen was through the Disney Sing Along tapes. This allowed Disney to easily distribute them throughout the decades. Nearly every major movie that Disney released on home video or in theaters would get its own Sing Along tape. The practice would last up to the late 90s, which is when the DVD revolution was starting its home video dominance.

This made the Disney Sing Along tapes a rarity as DVDs would be able to easily display the lyrics on-screen as well as allow people to jump right into their favorite scenes without rewinding or fast forwarding the movie. Not to mention that home video releases were happening earlier and earlier. Movies would now be released in four to six months rather than a whole year. We didn't need to wait so long. As if all of that wasn't enough, the advent of the internet made it easy for us to browse our favorite Disney songs and scenes whenever we wanted, meaning that the Disney Sing Along tapes would soon become relics of our childhood's past.

Disney didn't fully stop making these, though. With the releases of Brother Bear and Home on the Range, they released Disney Sing Along DVDs in honor of their newly acquired presence in the Disney family. They also re-released some Sing Along classics on DVD like Disneyland Fun, and made new ones like Disney Princess Sing Along. But alas, these would become rarer and rarer until they disappeared from the market altogether.

I am forever grateful to have experienced these VHS tapes growing up. I loved Disney films as a child, and the Disney Sing Along tapes made their presence in my life that much stronger. It inspired me to sing (off key) my favorite songs and helped me relive the magical moments of my favorite Disney movies. I admit that with the Disney Sing Along tapes and DVDs gone, it feels like there's something missing whenever a new, big Disney movie comes out. Can you imagine if Disney had made a Disney Sing Along DVD when The Princess and the Frog and Tangled came out?


Mock cover art by Karen Amador

We can only dream...

 

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