Disney Sing Along Songs Vol. 1: Heigh Ho ReviewÂ
The next 15 or so reviews are going to be very special. In these reviews I will be looking at a Disney VHS series that I adored as a child and adore even more as an adult and fan. The series in question is the awesome Sing Along series that incredibly ran for the better part of a decade and in some cases was a flagship title for Walt Disney Home Video. The series grew, evolved and reinvented itself for better or worse in a lot of ways. As the showâ€™s title implies it played Disney songs and scenes with a karaoke type structure with a Mickey Mouse head as a bouncing ball to give people the cues to sing. They were a fun creative way to showcase and celebrate Disneyâ€™s rich and diverse musical history. The shows celebrated classics and the popular Disney songs as well as giving exposure to songs as well as movies that are more obscure. Most volumes would focus on a particular theme and have a representative song be the title of the volume. In this case volume 1 titled Heigh Ho was released in 1986 and spawned over a decadeâ€™s worth of VHS tapes and laser discs. This is Disney Sing Along Songs volume 1!!!!!!!!!!
I want to talk about the opening sequence here. You may have noticed that I have been using this for Musical March Madness because itâ€™s an awesome opening!!! Anyone that grew up in the 80s and 90s were treated to really cool over the top and exciting opening sequences to get us pumped up for what was to come and this was no exception. The theme song by Patrick DeRemer is excellent and captures the fun and entertaining atmosphere the show brings. The opening and technically the entire show is stock footage which means the show was inexpensive to produce and the voices were dubbed over the stock footage. The footage of Mr. Owl and the class were from the Disney Shorts â€œToot Whistle Plunk and Boomâ€ and â€œMelodyâ€. This may appear to be rather cheap simply using stock footage all the time, but still there was a lot of time, effort and creativity put into these shows because people still needed to write the episodes and get creative in the segues in between songs as well as to write the theme song. I was also very impressed with the editing techniques the show used to make this look like a cohesive show as if this was original footage. The opening also sets up what I like to call the â€œMr. Owl Sagaâ€ where Mr. Owl and his class would be the hosts and introduce the songs as part of a lesson in the class. The show would constantly use co hosts as it progressed, but Mr. Owl was still with us he just had a lot of guest lecturers apparently and is still a part of the Mr. Owl Saga and will always be a warm memory of my childhood. Please note that when I go over the individual songs shown there will be no videos because if I show you videos of all the songs thatâ€™s too close to illegal distribution because I might as well show you the entire episode, but I will have videos for more obscure songs.
Mr. Owl is having trouble picking the lesson for the day and asks what people like and the dunce in the corner says â€œlike money?â€ Mr. Owl responds with an obvious no and says â€œeverybody loves to sing so the subject for today shall be a melody!â€ So Mr. Owl gets the class pumped up and then the transition to the Dwarfsâ€™ introductory scene occurs and the title song Heigh Ho is sung with the lyrics onscreen. Now this particular volume doesnâ€™t really have a theme except for the concept of a â€œMelodyâ€ which is extremely broad, but I guess theyâ€™re using it for catchy songs and they do have a lot of catchy songs on here so Iâ€™ll go with that. Itâ€™s a great fitting song to start the show and it fits with volume 1 seeing as Snow White was the first animated feature for Disney. The classic is treated very well and maintains its timeless charm.
Up, Down and Touch the Ground
Mr. Owl then directs us to the 100 Acre Wood and says that Pooh better do his exercises so we go into Poohâ€™s exercise song. I will admit itâ€™s an odd choice, but it is a swell song and I love when the choir kicks in and that really deep baritone finishes the song. Thatâ€™s awesome. You know if Pooh is so concerned about his exercises to improve his appetite why doesnâ€™t he just remove his stuffing so he can fit more â€œhunnyâ€ into his stomach. Oh well next song.
Hi Diddle Dee Dee
The catchiest song from Pinocchio is here as well and this time itâ€™s the extended version with Pinocchio singing another verse of the song. (unfortunately I couldnâ€™t find a video for it sorry) The song is used very well and gives us something new with the extension of the song and is one of the more obscure songs despite it coming from a famous movie.
Yo Ho a Pirates Life For Me
Arguably the most popular and catchiest song in the entire volume. This is a great example of the diversity that the show has by going beyond the music of the films and going into the songs from all over Disney. We get great footage of the ride and the best part is that itâ€™s the old school footage before the movie was a thought in someoneâ€™s head and it shows the attraction with elements that were removed from the attraction a long time ago like the pirate in the red jacket on the unstable gunpowder barrels that hasnâ€™t been there since the 1997 refurbishment. This video introduced me to the song because I was to young to recognize the music on my trips to Disneyland as an infant. A great song and a great choice for volume 1 of the show.
Dwarfsâ€™ Yodel Song
The show returns to Snow White for a little bit and chooses the Yodel Song. It matches the fun and energetic mood that this first show was going for and is a fairly standard song. The interesting thing is that Mr. Owl asks to see if you can name all the dwarfs and he surprisingly follows up on it after the song is over.
After Mr. Owl gives a statement on how singing is much easier if you know how to read he instructs one of his students to read a passage from her book. She tells the story of a boy in the big city but has a very active imagination and dreams that heâ€™s a cowboy riding around the west. Remember what I said about how the song selection is very diverse so underrated songs can be given their rightful glory? This is the perfect example of that! This is a very nice song and sequence!! It comes from a quaint and sweet little featurette that probably hadnâ€™t been seen in 20 to 30 years at that time. I love how this show still remembers and looks back at the types of things that current Disney has forgotten and abandoned. This is one of my favorite segments in the volume and is an excellent look at how Disney used to treat its lesser known history.
Keeping with the western and cowboy subtheme we take a look at one of Disneyâ€™s animated groups the Three Caballeros that consist of Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles. The song is a very energetic Latin type song with very clever and snappy lyrics. The cartoony visuals accompanying the lyrics are very amusing as well. I love the ending because it shows how freakinâ€™ crazy Panchito is. Also you have to give his voice actor credit for holding that last note for so long! Thatâ€™s awesome!!!!!
The introduction to this song is just hilarious because Panchito isnâ€™t ready to stop singing and keeps interrupting Mr. Owlâ€™s introduction to the Zorro Theme. Once Mr. Owl calms Panchito down the epic awesomeness of one of the greatest underrated Disney songs plays as the next segment. God I love this song!!! Itâ€™s awesome!! Itâ€™s a perfect choice! Love this song and I love the show it comes from. It captures everything awesome and fun about Disney music in it.
Siamese Cat Song
Okay now we get to my least favorite part of the volume. I never did like the Siamese Cat song even though I love Lady and the Tramp. I was a little peeved at the Asian stereotyping of the cats even though I take that with a grain of salt. On a technical level itâ€™s just not a catchy or entertaining song. I donâ€™t see anything to like about it itâ€™s just blah so I usually fast forward my tape through that.
Letâ€™s Go Fly Kite
Technically the last song in the line up is oddly enough the last song of Mary Poppins and this song is just a great song like all the others in that movie. It just is the perfect finale song and the soaring kite represents the eventual success of the Sing Along series.
Heigh Ho Reprise
This reprise starts the tradition of the other installments doing a reprise of the title song. I always considered this the true finale and itâ€™s awesome and it would leave the kids of the world wondering what was going to be on the next volume!
This was a very well put together first volume for the great Sing Along Series. It may not have had the most cohesive theme to bind the songs together, but it planted a seed that flourished into something truly special. You could divide my childhood entertainment like this Disney Movies on VHS and in theatres, Animated Series from all networks, Spielberg and Lucas movies, and the Disney Sing Along Songs. They were that important to my childhood. I find it amazing that the tapes work as well as they do. Join me next time where I take a look at volume 2 where the title song is my favorite Disney song ever Zip a dee doo dah!