What comes after ‘happily ever after’? If we’re talking about Disney movies, it’s usually a rousing number sung by one of pop music’s latest darlings. Demi Lovato, for example, delivered a rocking rendition of “Let It Go” for the end credits of 2013’s Frozen; Alessia Cara covered “How Far I’ll Go” for 2016’s Moana; the list continues.
The practice has been going on for decades now, so you’re forgiven if you can't recall every celebrity whose voice trilled out from behind scrolling text after an animated Disney movie from the 1990s. But since some of them are surprising—and most are solidly in the “adult contemporary” realm—they make for a pretty entertaining walk down memory lane. From Michael Bolton to Sting, here are 11 musicians who brought ’90s Disney end credits to life.
1. Michael Bolton // “Go the Distance” From Hercules (1997)
Critics generally applauded Hercules’s heartfelt ballad “Go the Distance,” but not necessarily Michael Bolton’s take on it for the closing credits. “Not even Michael Bolton can ruin Herc’s big inspirational number,” Bob Ross (not the painter) wrote for The Tampa Tribune; and Bennington Banner’s Alden Graves said the song was “so good that even Michael Bolton’s [whiny] rendition during the end credits can’t ruin it.”
2. and 3. 98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder // “True to Your Heart” From Mulan (1998)
Mulan became a star-launching vehicle for a young Mickey Mouse Club graduate by the name of Christina Aguilera, whose recording of “Reflection” topped charts. In the end credits, however, she was preceded by two more established (though not to the same degree) acts—namely, 98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder. They collaborated on “True to Your Heart,” which had actually been written for Hanson. Lyricist David Zippel and composer Matthew Wilder had initially just hoped that Wonder would agree to play the harmonica for the track, but he ended up liking it so much that he asked to contribute vocals, too.
4. All-4-One // “Someday” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz created “Someday” after the filmmakers asked them to come up with something a little more uplifting for Esmeralda to sing when she enters Notre-Dame Cathedral in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They eventually reversed course and settled on the original prayer-like track “God Help the Outcasts,” but “Someday” didn’t get left on the cutting room floor. R&B group All-4-One, best known for “I Swear,” sang it for the closing credits.
5. and 6. Jon Secada and Shanice // “If I Never Knew You” From Pocahontas (1995)
Vanessa Williams has dined out for more than two decades on the success of “Colors of the Wind,” but anyone who left their Pocahontas VHS playing for long enough might remember the oft-forgotten second song from the closing credits: “If I Never Knew You,” a duet between Cuban-American performer Jon Secada and then-upcoming R&B singer Shanice. They recorded a Spanish version of the song, too. Though Pocahontas (Judy Kuhn) and John Smith’s (Mel Gibson) recording didn’t make it into the original film, the scene was added for the 10th-anniversary edition.
7. Celine Dion // “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Maybe you didn’t really forget that Celine Dion sang Beauty and the Beast’s eponymous song alongside Peabo Bryson; it did, after all, earn them a Grammy Award and peak at number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100. What you might not have remembered is that Dion was still pretty much unknown when she bagged the gig. Things came full circle in 2017, when Dion got to record the end-credits song (“How Does a Moment Last Forever”) for the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
8. Roberta Flack // “As Long As There’s Christmas” From Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
If there’s one master of Disney end-credits tracks, it’s Peabo Bryson. In addition to his blockbuster duet with Dion, he also performed Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle and “As Long As There’s Christmas” from the 1997 direct-to-video Beauty and the Beast sequel, The Enchanted Christmas. For that, his partner was none other than “Killing Me Softly” legend Roberta Flack. Flack included the song on her Christmas album (The Christmas Album) that same year.
9. and 10. Heather Headley and Kenny Lattimore // “Love Will Find a Way” from The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998)
The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride was another direct-to-video masterpiece with a collection of catchy new songs (though none composed by Elton John) and some buzzy new talent, too, including Neve Campbell (who played Simba’s rebellious daughter, Kiara). The “Love Will Find a Way” end-credits reprise was tag-teamed by R&B singer Kenny Lattimore and Heather Headley, who had originated the role of Nala in Broadway’s The Lion King mere months earlier.
11. Sting // “My Funny Friend and Me” From The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The Emperor’s New Groove had started out as a full-fledged musical with Sting in the composer’s chair, à la Elton John’s The Lion King (1994) and Phil Collins’s Tarzan (1999). But producers scrapped practically the whole story at a very late stage, and Sting’s songs didn’t fit the new (much goofier) plot. “I’m not a particularly easy person to call and say, ‘We’re not using your songs,’” Sting told The Associated Press. “And I didn’t make them feel any easier about it.”
But he didn’t quit the production—in fact, he wrote two more songs for the film, including “My Funny Friend and Me” for the end credits. And three of his original songs did make it onto the soundtrack album, including a love ballad with Shawn Colvin called “One Day She’ll Love Me.” (And, yes, The Emperor’s New Groove did technically come out in 2000. But Sting worked on the songs in the 1990s, which seemed like a good enough reason to include him on this list. Also, it’s Sting.)