There’s a meme going around that says that Phil Collins didn’t have to go as hard as he did on the Tarzan soundtrack.
(Insert accurate meme here)
Phil Collins has given us some of the most classic Disney songs ever recorded, one of which is routinely showcased in the Magic Kingdom firework show, “Happily Ever After” (which is returning in 2023! Check out all the other announcements from D23 here). Before we take a deep dive into the most famous Phil Collins Disney songs, let’s learn a little bit more about this Disney Legend, including what his experience was like writing the soundtracks for Tarzan.
Who is Phil Collins?
Phil Collins is a British songwriter, singer, drummer, and composer who is most famous for fronting the band, Genesis.
Collins originally joined Genesis in 1970 as their drummer but replaced lead singer Peter Gabriel in 1975 after he left the band to pursue a solo career. However, Collins wasn’t the first pick for the job. The band had auditioned around 400 singers before they turned to Collins, who also served as their backup vocalist. His stint as frontman would be a bold decision for the band who transitioned their sound from experimental progressive rock (or prog rock) into a much more radio-friendly style.
And oh man, did they become very much radio-friendly. Over the course of the next couple of decades, the band released mega-hits such as Follow You, Follow Me, Abacab, No Reply At All, and Dance on a Volcano.
When Collins decided to pursue a solo career, he released hits such as You Can’t Hurry Love, Against All Odds, Invisible Touch, In the Air Tonight, and Two Hearts.
For Disney fans, his biggest claim to fame would be lending his artistic, and musical talents to the entire Tarzan soundtrack, as well as Brother Bear, which albeit is one of those underrated Disney films that struggled in the early 2000s era of animated films.
Phil Collins and the Tarzan Soundtrack
Ask many fans and they’ll tell you that Tarzan was the last great movie of the Disney Renaissance era (the era that spawned great films such as the Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin).
In years past, the songs written or composed by famous artists would be sung by the voice characters, but Disney broke away with tradition when it came to Tarzan. Out of the five songs Collins wrote for the film, he voiced four of them, which was a big deal at the time. In fact, according to a press tour interview Collins had with CNN in 1999, this was the first time Disney had ever done such a thing.
“I was actually a bit surprised that I was going to be asked to do that,” Collins told Andy Culpepper. Apparently, during the early stages of production, those working on the film weren’t too sure of the best way to explain the backstory to the audience. As Collins pointed out, why did Kala the ape bond with Tarzan? Why was Tarzan on the island to begin with? While he wrote the bones of four songs within a few weeks of receiving the script, Collins told Culpepper that he waited until Disney answered these questions and gave him a better direction to complete the rest of the songs and soundtrack. Serendipitously enough, Son of Man was the first song he wrote for the film, which immediately tells the audience who Tarzan is and what the film is going to be about.
While his work on the film’s soundtrack was prolific, we almost didn’t have it as Disney originally approached Collins to appear on the soundtrack as a drummer. It’s a good thing they chose to go in a different direction!
Songs on the Tarzan Soundtrack
Phil Collins wrote five songs for the Tarzan soundtrack, but he composed a total of 14 scores for the film that includes finals and reprisals. These songs/scores include:
- Two Worlds
- Son of Man
- Trashin’ the Camp
- You’ll Be in My Heart
- Strangers Like Me
- Moves Like an Ape, Looks Like a Man
- One Family
- The Gorillas
- A Wondrous Place
The scores were also composed by Mark Mancina, who has worked on over 60 film and television productions including Brother Bear (alongside Collins), Moana, the Haunted Mansion, the Lion King, and countless others. When speaking of his experience of working with Phil, Mancina told the Walt Disney Company, “there’s something very sincere about Phil’s voice…his voice has a tendency to wrap itself around you and bring you into his world. As soon as he starts singing, it’s just magic and provides a very welcoming feeling.”
While all the songs were popular, the tracks You’ll Be in My Heart and Strangers Like Me emerged as the biggest hit, with You’ll Be in My Heart earning spot #17 on the UK Singles and #21 on the Billboard 100, while Strangers Like Me placed #1 and #10 on Adult Contemporary. It stayed in the #1 spot for a total of 19 weeks.
The Tarzan soundtrack was the first to ever be recorded in multiple languages. In fact, Collins himself recorded the songs in French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Unsurprisingly, this soundtrack was certified Gold in Austria, France, Belgium, and Germany and hit double platinum in Canada and the United States.
Did Tarzan Win Any Awards?
Boy did it ever! You’ll Be in My Heart won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It also received a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media.
The soundtrack itself won a Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album, while Phil Collins won an American Music Award for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.
Phil Collins and the Brother Bear Soundtrack
Released in October 2003, the soundtrack for Brother Bear didn’t reach nearly the same heights as Tarzan, but it was still successful, with the album itself placing #3 on the US Billboards chart.
Just like with Tarzan, Collins wrote and performed many of the songs in the film or specifically on the soundtrack, including:
- Look Through My Eyes
- On My Way
- No Way Out
Brother Bear didn’t receive any nominations or win any awards.
Is Phil Collins a Disney Legend?
Yes, Phil Collins is officially a Disney Legend! He was inducted in 2002, originally holding the shortest length of time spanning from his work on Tarzan in 1999 to his inclusion as a Disney Legend. The actor/vocalist who plays Princess Tiana, Anika Noni Rose, was inducted in 2011 at an even faster pace than Collins, just two years after Princess and the Frog was first released.
Like other hall of fame programs, Disney Legends recognizes and honors artists who have made a significant contribution to the Walt Disney Company. The program was created in 1987 and is awarded to recipients every year at Disney’s annual convention, D23. Before Roy E. Disney’s death in 2009, he was the one responsible for selecting each recipient.
Other famous Disney Legends include the Sherman Brothers, Julie Andrews, Marc Davis, Frank Wells, Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, Alice Davis, Randy Newman, Tony Baxter, and Idina Menzel.
Are You a Fan of the Tarzan or Brother Bear Soundtrack?
What’s your favorite song from these soundtracks? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for all the latest Disney tips, tricks, and trivia.
As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.