On Saturday, July 27, we’re launching our first Glee Club session. The theme: French Disney. The teacher: Quentin Bruno, amazing actor and musician who appeared on the French version of The Voice in 2015. You can learn more and sign up for the workshop here!
“Wait a second,” you might be thinking, “There are French versions of Disney songs?” Yes, they’re really good, and you should listen to them! In France, it’s common to dub movies and series rather than adding subtitles. No matter your favorite Disney movie musical, you can hear its songs sung by French artists with different lyrics! Here are our favorite French Disney songs for language learners.
By Sophia Millman
Heigh-ho ! – Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains
We’re starting our list off with Disney’s first animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The French lyrics are quite similar to the English ones, but you’ll notice that the French version uses the adorable phrase “tic-tac” to represent the sound of digging. Interestingly, this is the only Disney movie that has been dubbed three separate times in French! Once in 1938, then in 1962, and finally in 2001. If you’d like to hear what Snow White’s voice sounds like in French, you can listen to “Siffler en travaillant” (“Whistle While You Work”) here.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins
Unfortunately, the French actress who dubs Mary Poppins sings in a slightly less charming way than the inimitable Julie Andrews, but we still think this is a fun listen. It turns out that although the song was originally supposed to be titled “Supercalifragilisticexpidélilicieux” in French, the actors ended up pronouncing the word almost exactly like it is said in English. Another Disney classic from Mary Poppins, “A Spoonful of Sugar” (“Un morceau de sucre”) also sounds quite lovely in French.
Il en faut peu pour être heureux – Le livre de la jungle
This is wonderful in both English and French, but it’s one of those songs that can get stuck in your head for ages. The bear/bare pun and the pawpaw lines are really clever in the original version of the song, but unfortunately they get lost in the French translation. However, the French lyrics still provide intermediate learners with an excellent comprehension exercise. Singing this is also a nice opportunity for you to practice your French vowel sounds as well as the use of the indicative tense.
Tout le monde veut devenir un cat – Les Aristochats
Of all the songs on this list, this one might sound the best in French. The jazzy trumpet and piano, combined with an accordion, make you think of Parisian cafe music right away. Also, Maurice Chevalier, the well-known French actor and musician, sings during this song! His distinctive accent and little expressions like “naturellement!” make “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” an absolute delight. Also, if you’re a more advanced student, you’ll notice that the lyrics play on both the English word “cat” and the French “chat.”
Sous l’océan – La Petite Sirène
The calypso style of this song nicely complements its French lyrics and we love Guyanese singer Henri Salvador’s voice. This is a great song to listen to if you want to pick up some slang French words like pagaille or casual expressions like se fendre la pipe. Another excellent French Disney song that appears in The Little Mermaid is “Partir là-bas” (“Part of Your World”).
Ce rêve bleu – Aladdin
“Ce rêve bleu” (literally “This Blue Dream”) is perhaps our favorite French Disney song. It’s just as magical as the English-language duet. While the lyrics seem a little counterintuitive (how did a whole world become a blue dream?), they actually work quite well. Apparently the 2019 live action version of Aladdin wasn’t amazing, but it might be fun for French learners to check out the dubbed version of the film anyway! You can watch the trailer here.
“C’est l’histoire de la vie” – Le Roi Lion
Of course, we had to include a song from The Lion King on this list, but we were torn between and “Je voudrais déjà être roi” and this one. The lyrics of “Je voudrais déjà être roi” are good practice for beginning French learners, but “C’est l’histoire de la vie” is truly a French Disney classic. If you listen to the song’s paroles (lyrics), you’ll notice that they’re even more majestic than the English lyrics.
L’air du vent – Pocahontas : Une légende indienne
One of the top comments on this video is “Le travail des traducteurs sur les chansons Disney en français est incroyable. On a une langue si poétique, je ne m’en lasserai jamais!” Translation: “The translators’ work on Disney songs in French is incredible. We have such a poetic language, I will never tire of it.” We totally agree. The French lyrics of the songs in Pocahontas are particularly beautiful and they’ll really help you improve your nature vocabulary.
C’est la fête – La Belle et la Bête
You might already know that Beauty and the Beast was originally a French fairy tale, which explains why the Disney movie is set in France. But did you ever wonder what the voices of Gaston and Lumière sounded like in French? Here’s your chance to find out! “C’est la fête” (“Be Our Guest”) is as catchy in French as it is in English. Here’s the recent live action version of the song!
Bonus : Libérée, délivrée – La Reine des Neiges
For our list, we chose older Disney classics, but we couldn’t leave off the most popular modern Disney song! Disney France has its own Youtube channel and the most viewed video on it is, unsurprisingly, from the French version of Frozen. Anaïs Delva recorded the song and she sounds almost as spectacular as Idina Menzel. The lyrics of “Libérée, délivrée” are excellent, and they’re a great way for you to review French grammar. (Singing “Je ne mentirai plus jamais” is perfect for revising the future tense and negating sentences!)