Part of what has helped animated films from the 1990s stand the test of time is their iconic songs. Profit-seeking as per usual, during that decade, Disney started more actively recruiting famous musical acts and singers to perform the theme songs for their flagship productions, and other companies – such as the short-lived Fox Animation Studios – imitated the practice with occasional success.
As one of their biggest markets, the studios were encouraged to do the same for the Spanish-language versions of the tracks in order to appeal to audiences in Latin America. They were already dubbing the dialogue, so it only made sense to also reinvent the lyrics. Spain, however, created their own distinct songs – just like they do with the overall dubs.
Many of these methodically translated tunes performed by major Latino pop stars would actually only appear during the credits or as promotional items via corny live-action music videos that were exact replicas of those by U.S. musicians. In rare instances, the same person who voiced a character in the entire movie would also take care of the standalone songs.
One major exception to this business tactic came in 1999 with Tarzan, for which British composer Phil Collins was in charge of singing every single piece in the soundtrack, not only in English, but also Spanish, Italian, German, French (nobody else got a shot at these tracks).
Though animated features continue to include music by famous artists today, the 90s gave us Luis Miguel, Ricky Martin, Thalía, and even Demián Bichir as cartoon-friendly legends before Gael García Bernal hopped on the mic for his rendition of “Remember Me” in Coco.
Here are 12 classic songs from 90s animated movies, in the voices of some of Latin America’s biggest names in music.
Luis Miguel – “Sueña” from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'
Luismi released eight albums in the 90s, and yet he still had time to bless Disney with his talent for their 1996 venture based on a literary drama. At the time, El Sol de México would actually perform “Sueña” during concerts.
Ricky Martin - “No Importa La Distancia” from 'Hercules'
One year before “The Cup of Life” conquered the world, Boricua megastar Ricky Martin not only sung the main track, but also lent his voice to the title character of Hercules for the entire Latin American Spanish-language dub.
Lucero – “Mi Reflejo” from 'Mulan'
Telenovela royalty and pop singer Lucero was the Latin American counterpart for this song made famous in Anglophone countries by Christina Aguilera. She even got her own music video where she delivered the histrionics.
Thalía – ”Viaje Tiempo Atrás” from 'Anastasia'
Thanks to social media, the Mexican pop diva is enjoying a resurgence in interest from the collective Latino consciousness. Back in 1997, she transformed into the Russian duchess for this musical performance. This is the only non-Disney picture on the list, and was the most successful production released by Fox Animated Studios.
Demian Bichir – “Un Mundo Ideal” from 'Aladdin'
The Oscar-nominated actor has had a long and eclectic career. One of its most curious highlights is voicing Aladdin, including the film’s unforgettable songs.
Manuel Mijares & Rocio Banquells – “La Bella y la Bestia” from 'Beauty and the Beast'
Infusing the beloved Disney anthem with a hefty dose of drama, Manuel Mijares (Lucero’s ex-husband) and Rocio Banquells, both known for their heartbreaking ballads (ask your parents), joined forces for this over-the-top take on a classic.
Kalimba (of OV7) - “Yo Quisiera Ya Ser El Rey” from 'The Lion King'
Kalimba, who you may know as one of the members of famous pop group OV7 (think RBD but in the 90s), was a multitalented entertainment prodigy from a very young age. Today he has a prominent solo career, but in 1995 he roared as Simba during the movie’s early musical numbers.
Susana Zabaleta – "Colores en el Viento” from 'Pocahontas'
Acclaimed songstress and accomplished actress Susana Zabaleta is best known internationally for her role in the landmark Mexican film Sexo, pudor y lagrimas. Prior to that, she mostly worked in television and theater, and in 1995, she used her vocal abilities for Pocahontas’ tunes.
Alessandra Rosaldo – “Cuando Alguien Me Amaba” from 'Toy Story 2'
Sentidos Opuestos was a beloved electro pop duo in the 90s and propelled Alessandra Rosaldo to stardom. She was immortalized in the Disney canon as the singing voice of Jesse in the Toy Story sequel. Today she is married to Eugenio Derbez and often serves as host for notable entertainment events.
Fernanda Meade (of Pandora) – “Dios Ayude a los Marginados” from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'
This emotionally charged theme song, in which Esmeralda pleads God to help the marginalized, was given life by Fernanda Meade, a member of the trio Pandora, one of the most important groups in Spanish-language pop music from the 1980s.
Tatiana – “No Hablaré” from 'Hercules'
The absolute queen of children’s music and television shows in Mexico, Tatiana was the perfect choice to provide a sassy tone to Hercules’ love interest, Megara, as well as to perform her showstopper about not wanting to fall for the hero.
Cristian Castro – “Tu Corazón” from 'Mulan'
Aside from being Verónica Castro’s son, Cristian has forged a respectable career in music since the early 1990s. At the height of his fame, the singer tackled Mulan’s credits theme, which was performed in English by Stevie Wonder and 98 Degrees.