Opinion: Ranking the Songs of Disney’s ‘Moana’

Jacqueline Gualtieri ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

You may be aware of just how big Disney’s latest film Moana has been. In fact, it has just received the Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature. You might also be aware of the fact that the music was written in part by Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is also a lyrical genius. Perhaps you have even heard the film’s music just randomly sung on the street. However, if you haven’t yet listened to the music, use this list to listen to it in the best order possible.

Though, it should be noted that the full soundtrack is not listed here because it includes forty songs. So, what is included is only the lyrical music featured in the film and the credits, plus the two outtake songs.

14. “More by Marcy Harriell

No disrespect to Marcy Harriell, because she’s an incredible Broadway talent, but there’s definitely a reason why this was an outtake. For one thing, it’s sung from Moana’s point of view, so it sounds wrong for it not to be sung by Auli’i Cravalho. Because of this, it also sounds like it’s being sung by someone much older than Moana. It’s a nice song, but it’s not up to the caliber of the rest of the film’s music.

13. “How Far I’ll Go” by Alessia Cara

Again, no disrespect to Alessia Cara, but this song just sounds wrong as a pop song. They took a really beautiful song and autotuned and looped it and it just feels like they stepped on the beauty of the original. They threw it in the credits, but maybe they should have just thrown it out.

Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

12. “Tulou Tagaloa” by Olivia Foa’i

This is a beautiful intro song, but there’s not much to it, as it’s only 55 seconds. Translated, the song means “Pardon us, God of the Sea,” which is a great introduction to the film, but it could have been a bit longer.

11. “How Far I’ll Go (Reprise)” by Auli’i Carvalho

The reprise works perfectly in the film, but not so much as a stand-alone song. It continues the story very well and it also replaced “More” in the scene it’s used in, which was a very smart move.

10. “Unstoppable” by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Though it is a good song, it was an outtake for a reason. “Unstoppable” tells the story of Maui, but we already have a song that tells his story and the film didn’t need two, especially when the first one is just so good.

Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

9. “An Innocent Warrior” by Vai Mahina, Sulata Foai-Amiatu & Matthew Ineleo

“An Innocent Warrior” functions as another introduction song that just sounds so hopeful. It’s stunningly beautiful. You don’t have to understand the words to want to cry by just listening to the song.

8. “You’re Welcome” by Jordan Fisher and Lin-Manuel Miranda

The original version is a bit bouncy and funny, but this version sounds a lot sexier and more soulful. It was the second song in the credits, but it would have been nicer to have it featured more prominently. However, it’s understandable why it wasn’t. It doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the music in the film. As a remix, though, it works well.

7. “Know Who You Are” by Auli’i Cravalho

Using the same music as “An Innocent Warrior,” “Know Who You Are” is Moana’s turn to give hope to another. Again, it’s a tearjerker. It particularly works because it’s used in a scene with a lot of darkness and hopelessness and the song brings some light.

Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

6. “I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)” by Rachel House and Auli’i Cravalho

If you need some motivation, this song is what you need. Moana’s grandmother returns to her to give her guidance, but Moana truly finds herself here. It’s a turning point in the film and the song is the perfect complement.

5. “Where You Are” by Christopher Jackson, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger, Auli’i Cravalho & Louise Bush

Miranda, of course, managed to squeeze in some Hamilton alum into MoanaChristopher Jackson—George Washington in Hamilton—has a voice that’s perfectly suited for Moana’s father and Nicole Scherzinger works perfectly as her mother. Although it’s not the most inspiring song, all of the song’s voices complement each other so well.

4. “Shiny” by Jemaine Clement

This David Bowie-esque song is clearly a stand out in the film. It doesn’t quite sound like any of the other music. It’s darker and it’s got an almost hypnotic quality to it. A crab singing about liking shiny things shouldn’t be such a strong song, but, for some reason, it is.

Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Moana. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

3. “How Far I’ll Go” by Auli’i Cravalho

There’s a reason why this was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. It’s the first time the audience hears the real strength in Auli’i Cravalho’s voice in the film. As soon as she starts belting, it’s hard not to fall in love with Moana and want to go on the journey with her.

2.  “We Know The Way” by Opetaia Foa’i & Lin-Manuel Miranda

To be honest, this song might be a little lower on the list if it wasn’t for the scene it’s in. Watching the ships set sail and the water rush around the screen, “We Know The Way” suddenly makes an explorer out of the listener. It’s powerful, using both English and Tokelauan, to tell the story of their travels.

1. “You’re Welcome by Dwayne Johnson

The most shocking thing in this film might be that The Rock can not only sing but also rap. “You’re Welcome” is just a feel-good song, by far the catchiest, and has been the most talked-about song since the release of the film. It’s the only song in Moana that you feel like dancing to and you’ve probably heard someone singing this song at some point because it seems to be stuck in everyone’s head.


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