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...