Tag Archives: Hercules

Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Hercules is one of my favorite films from the Disney Renaissance era. By this time (1997), the Renaissance had been in full swing for almost a decade, and everyone involved really had gotten what they needed to do down pat.

Case in point: “Zero to Hero” is a prime example of the perfect Disney song. It picks up immediately after Hercules’ victory over the Hydra and consists of the Muses narrating the young hero’s rise to fame through song, unwittingly defeating all of Hades’ attempts to stop him in the process.


Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Person of the week in every Greek opinion poll
What a pro
Herc could stop a show
Point him at a monster and you’re talking S.R.O.
He was a no one
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero
Here was a kid with his act down pat
From zero to hero ― in no time flat
Zero to hero ― just like that

When he smiled
The girls went wild with oohs and aahs
And they slapped his face
On every vase (on every “vahse”)


From appearance fees and royalties
Our Herc had cash to burn
Now nouveau riche and famous
He could tell you what’s a Grecian urn

Say amen
There he goes again
Sweet and undefeated
And an awesome 10 for 10
Folks lined up
Just to watch him flex
And this perfect package packed a pair of pretty pecs

Hercie, he comes, he sees, he conquers
Honey, the crowds were going bonkers
He showed the moxie brains, and spunk
From zero to hero ― a major hunk
Zero to hero ― and who’da thunk?


Who put the glad in gladiator?
Whose daring deeds are great theater?
Is he bold?
No one braver
Is he sweet?
Our favorite flavor


Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Riding high
And the nicest guy
Not conceited

He was a nothin’
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero

He hit the heights at breakneck speed
From zero to hero
Herc is a hero
Now he’s a hero
Yes indeed!

Now one thing you may not know about this song is that a live-action version was shot as reference material. Yes, even after all these years, in the 1990s Disney still used the trick of shooting certain sequences in live-action before animating them. And thanks to the wonderful creation known as YouTube, I can show that footage to you!


The sequence is intercut with the live-action muses and storyboards. What’s interesting, if you pay attention, is how the story change from the storyboard phase to the finished product. For instance, in the segment where Hercules takes down a giant serpent, it appears in the storyboard that they had the idea of having a Gorgon (Medusa maybe?) as his opponent. I love getting to see behind-the-scenes moment like this, and I hope you enjoy watching it as well.

It’s a great song, and it really makes it appear that Hercules is well on his way to becoming a true hero. But is he really? Well…this IS a Disney movie, so you know things won’t be quite THAT easy. However, that’s a story for another day.

Let me know what you think about “Zero to Hero” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

In Disney’s Hercules, Megara (“Meg”) is hardly the typical Disney princess-type (I know she’s not actually a princess but she’s inserted into that character slot). Unlike other Disney princesses, like Snow White, Aurora, even Belle, Meg is cynical, snarky, rebellious, and the older I get the more I identify with her. In all seriousness, Meg’s backstory is worthy of any Disney film: she sold her soul to Hades to save her boyfriend’s life, only to be abandoned when said boyfriend left her for another woman (though personally I’ve always suspected that Hades lured the boyfriend away on purpose so he could use Meg as a slave).

With everything that’s happened to her, it’s no wonder that Meg is resistant to the idea that she’s falling in love with the god-turned-mortal Hercules. After all, allegedly Meg’s only getting close to him to find a weakness so that Hades will release her from their bargain. However, the more you watch them, the more it becomes obvious that Meg does have feelings for the hero. But once Hercules is dragged away by Phil, she quickly denies it (which naturally draws the attention of the Muses, setting up one of my favorite songs).

If there’s a prize for rotten judgment,
I guess I’ve already won that
No man is worth the aggravation
That’s ancient history
Been there, done that

Who d’you think you’re kiddin’?
He’s the earth and heaven to ya
Try to keep it hidden
Honey, we can see right through ya
Girl, you can’t conceal it
We know how you feel
And who you’re thinking of

In “I Won’t Say I’m in Love,” Meg spends nearly the entire song arguing against the Muses claims that she’s in love with Hercules. It’s an unwitting duet, as Meg doesn’t seem to realize she’s singing with the Muses, rather it’s almost like she’s replying to the thoughts in her head, though there are a few moments where Meg will turn really fast, as if she suspects there’s someone singing with her.

No chance, no way
I won’t say it, no, no

You swoon, you sigh,
Why deny it? Uh-oh

It’s too cliché
I won’t say I’m in love


The biggest thing holding Meg back is that she’s been hurt before and she doesn’t want it to happen again. It’s summed up very well in this verse:

I thought my heart had learned its lesson
It feels so good when you start out
My head is screaming “Get a grip, girl!”
Unless you’re dying to cry your heart out

You keep on denying
Who you are and how you’re feeling
Baby, we’re not buying
Hon, we saw you hit the ceiling
Face it like a grown-up
When you gonna own up
That you got, got, got it bad?

No chance, no way
I won’t say it, no, no
Give up, give in
Check the grin; you’re in love

This scene won’t play
I won’t say I’m in love
You’re doin’ flips, read our lips:
You’re in love!

You’re way off base, I won’t say it
Get off my case, I won’t say it
Girl, don’t be proud
It’s okay, you’re in love

At least out loud,
I won’t say I’m in love

I think anyone who’s been in a relationship gone bad can identify with this feeling and how painful it can be. It’s no wonder Meg is resisting any idea of love. However, despite this, Meg is able to admit, to herself that “At least out loud, I won’t say I’m in love.” So by the end of the song, despite her fears, Meg is at least open to the idea of being in love again, though I don’t think she 100% realizes it until the end of the film (but that’s another story for another day).

And that’s “I Won’t Say I’m in Love.” What do you think of this song? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

After learning he’s the son of Zeus, Pegasus takes Hercules to a mysterious island to meet the legendary trainer of heroes Philoctetes. And who is this mysterious character? Well…

It turns out that Philoctetes or “Phil” is a past-his-prime satyr (half man, half goat) with a passion for flirting with any beautiful woman he sees. Phil is highly upset to find Hercules and Pegasus intruding into his retirement. As far as he’s concerned, he’s long since out of the hero-training business, as he’s seen far too many heroes fall flat without “going the distance.” Apparently he’s trained them all: Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus…and the greatest of them all, Achilles! The satyr can’t bear to be disappointed again but Hercules isn’t giving up: he proudly proclaims himself to be the son of Zeus but Phil is not impressed. In fact, he finds the situation hysterical, as “One Last Hope” begins…

So, ya wanna be a hero, kid?
Well, whoop-dee-doo!
I have been around the block before with blockheads just like you
Each and everyone a disappointment
Pain, for which there ain’t no ointment
So much for excuses
Though a kid of Zeus’, asking me to jump into the fray
My answer is two words….(before Phil can turn Hercules away he’s struck by a bolt of lightning presumably “encouragement” from Zeus)….O.K

Hercules 3

In a similar vein to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” “Son of Man,” and “Something There;” “One Last Hope” is a montage song, that is it uses a series of short moments to cover the passage of a lengthy period of time (in this case, several years of training). Initially, as one might expect, the training does not go well:

I’d given up hope that someone would come along
A fellow who’d ring the bell for once
Not the gong
The kind who wins trophies
Won’t settle for low fees
At least semi-pro fees
But no – I get the greenhorn

Part of Hercules’ training involves cleaning up the old training course and making it usable again. Along the way, Phil begins listing off his “hero rules” of which there are 101. A notable example includes: “Rule 95: Concentrate! (Hercules throw goes wide) Rule 96: AIM!!!”


I’ve been out to pasture pal, my ambition gone
Content to spend lazy days and to graze my lawn
But you need an advisor
A satyr, but wiser
A good merchandiser
And whoa! There goes my ulcer!

I love Danny DeVito’s sarcasm throughout much of this song; he’s so skeptical about Hercules ever completing the training and yet he persists!

I’m down to one last hope and I hope it’s you
Though, kid, you’re not exactly a dream come true
I’ve trained enough turkeys
Who never came through
You’re my one last hope so you’ll have to do

Finally though, the long years of training (how many isn’t made clear) begin to pay off and finally the scene transitions to an adult Hercules that’s mastered all of Phil’s training courses, including a doozy of a finale. In short order, Hercules defeats or evades every obstacle and rescues the “damsel in distress.”


Demigods have faced the odds
And ended up a mockery
Don’t believe the stories that you read on all the crockery
To be a true hero, kid, is a dying art
Like painting a masterpiece, it’s a work of heart
It takes more than sinew
Comes down to what’s in you
You have to continue to grow
Now that’s more like it!

I’m down to one last shot and my last high note
Before that blasted Underworld gets my goat
My dreams are on you, kid
Go make ’em come true
Climb that uphill slope
Keep pushing that envelope
You’re my one last hope and, kid, it’s up to you!

It’s taken years but Hercules has finally finished his basic training with Phil and he is beyond ready to get off the island so he can become a true hero and return to Mount Olympus! Phil isn’t sure that Hercules is ready, but after a little more begging the satyr decides to take the fledgling hero on a “test run” and go to Thebes, a city with a lot of problems, problems that only a hero could fix.

Those are my thoughts on “One Last Hope,” another great song from composer Alan Menken. Let me know what you thought of this song in the comments below and as always, thank you for supporting the blog, it means everything to me. Have a great day!

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

Disney Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Fifteen year old Hercules is having a really hard time fitting in, even more so than most teenagers. The gangly teen possesses the strength of an immortal god and has no idea how to control it. And while his mortal parents love him dearly, they have no idea how to help their son control his strength either. Things come to a head when Hercules attempts to insert himself into a discus game, loses control and inadvertently destroys the entire market. This incident (apparently the last of many) is the final straw for the other residents of the town, who warn Amphitryon (Hercules’ adoptive father) to “keep that FREAK away from here!”

Hercules can’t help wanting to agree with that assessment: what is he if not a freak? All he wants is to find a place where he belongs and is welcomed by all. This is the basis for “Go the Distance,” and it is a song that is very close to my heart. See, like Hercules, I had a very hard time fitting in too, and so I’d spend hours and hours daydreaming of finding a place where I really belonged. In Hercules’ mind, if he can find this place of ultimate welcome, he will have “gone the distance.” Like most songs in the Disney Renaissance, “Go the Distance” was composed by Alan Menken with lyrics provided by David Zippel. Roger Bart is the singing voice of Hercules.


I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a great, warm welcome will be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I’m meant to be

I will find my way
I can go the distance
I’ll be there some day
If I can be strong
I know every mile will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong

But where to start? Well, upon returning home, Hercules’ finds his parents have some news for him: he’s not actually their son. They found him as a baby wearing a medallion with the symbol of the gods on it. This gives Hercules an idea: he can go to the Temple of Zeus and ask the gods for the answers! This leads to the following reprise as Hercules travels on his way:


I am on my way
I can go the distance
I don’t care how far
Somehow I’ll be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to find where I belong

And in the immense Temple of Zeus Hercules does indeed find his answers: he’s FAR from normal, in fact, he’s actually a god (what a thing to find out when you’re 15)! The long lost son of Zeus and Hera to be exact! There IS a way that Hercules can come home to Mount Olympus however: he must become a true hero to regain his godhood. And to become a hero…he must seek out Philoctetes, a legendary trainer of heroes.

But before Hercules leaves, Zeus has a gift for his son: Pegasus, now a fully-grown winged horse! The pair bond instantly, as they did before and now Hercules has a plan: find Philoctetes, become a hero and rejoin the gods on Mount Olympus! The teenager has a final reprise as he flies off on Pegasus into parts unknown:

I will beat the odds
I can go the distance
I will face the world
Fearless, proud and strong
I will please the gods
I can go the distance
Till I find my hero’s welcome
Right where I belong!
Just as the moment ends, the camera pans up to show how close the planets are to alignment (something that will be revisited periodically until the climax of the story). Next time: Hercules and Pegasus meet Philoctetes, who is not quite what they expected.
And that’s “Go the Distance”! I really love this song and I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

At the end of “Gospel Truth I,” we’re taken into Mount Olympus where all the gods have gathered to celebrate the birth of Hercules to head god Zeus and his wife Hera (which is nothing like the actual Greek myth but this is Disney we’re talking about so I can live with it). On top of the amazing gifts the other gods have brought, Zeus creates an infant Pegasus out of a combination of clouds just for Hercules. The touching moment is soured however, when Hades, god of the Underworld (James Woods) makes an unexpected entrance.

Hades isn’t banned from Olympus per se, in fact Zeus goes so far as to invite the flame-haired god to join the celebration. The thing with Hades is…he’s very bitter over having to “work” as god of the Underworld while the rest of the gods get to lounge about all day on Mount Olympus. And because he’s so bitter, none of the other gods really like him (in fact they use one of Zeus’ jokes as an excuse to laugh him out of Mount Olympus). But if Hades has his way, they won’t be laughing for long, as the Muses return to narrate in “Gospel Truth II”

If there’s one God you don’t want to get steamed up
It’s Hades, ’cause he had an evil plan
He ran the Underworld
But thought the dead were dull and uncouth

He was as mean as he was ruthless
And that’s the Gospel truth
He had a plan to shake things up
And that’s the Gospel truth

Yes, Hades is Lord of the Underworld but he hates the job and he despises the unending stream of dead souls who flow into his domain. To that end, he’s working on a plan to free the Titans from their prison during a planetary alignment (in 18 years time) and use them as an army to eliminate Zeus and take power. He consults the three Fates to see if this will indeed occur and they assure him: in 18 years his plans will succeed HOWEVER., they caution: “should Hercules fight, you will fail.”


What the fates have done here is given a prophecy in the style of the famed oracle of Delphi which was famous for a number of reasons but one in particular that I wish to point out: the Oracle had a habit of phrasing it’s predictions in such a way that there was a hidden meaning in the statement. So the Fates have said that if Hercules fights (against Hades), then the plan will fail. To Hades, the solution is obvious: the infant god must be eliminated. However, if one looks deeper, there’s another route that Hades could have gone and it would have worked so much better.

Instead of eliminating the young god and inadvertently putting him on the path of becoming a hero when Pain and Panic bungle the job, Hades could have spent the next 18 years ingratiating himself to his young nephew and turning him against the rest of the gods (Hades is slick enough that you know he could’ve pulled it off) and when the time came, Hercules wouldn’t have fought against him. It’s an interesting what-if scenario but we all know Hades didn’t go this way.

Hades plan to eliminate Hercules by having him turned mortal and then killed halfway works: Pain and Panic (the traditional bumbling henchmen) do succeed in turning the infant god mortal. However, because he didn’t drink the last drop of a magic formula that made him mortal, the infant retains his immortal strength (but is otherwise like a normal baby). But because Hercules is now a mortal, even though Zeus and Hera know where he is, they can’t bring him home (why Zeus as king of the gods can’t just make his son a god again I’m really not sure). As the Muses narrate for the final time in “Gospel Truth III” :


Young Herc was mortal now
But since he did not drink the last drop
He still retained his godlike strength
So thank his lucky star

But Zeus and Hera wept
Because their son could never come home
They’d have to watch their precious baby
Grow up from afar

Though Hades’ horrid plan
Was hatched before Herc cut his first tooth
The boy grew stronger every day
And that’s the gospel truth

The gospel truth

This is the last we see and hear of the Muses until they narrate Hercules’ rise to fame in “Zero to Hero.” From this point on until then we get to follow Hercules as a teenager struggling to fit in with his abnormal strength. I like these segments of “Gospel Truth,” they move the action along and provide exposition without boring the audience. And the soul music style sets Hercules apart from other Disney films.

And those are my thoughts on “Gospel Truth II & III.” Let me know what you think about these two sequences in the comments below!

You can become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

And for more Disney songs see also: Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules was Disney’s take on the legendary demi-god of Greek myth. Originally the son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Hercules is now presented as a full god, the son of Zeus and Hera. Unfortunately, his godhood is short-lived, as the jealous Hades (who secretly wants to overthrow Zeus, go figure), having been informed that a grown Hercules would ruin his plans, decides to have the baby god turned mortal and then killed. Thankfully, his (un)reliable henchmen Pain and Panic botch the job and thus Hercules grows up as an awkward mortal with incredible strength.

But before we get to all of that, there’s a short prologue that begins in what appears to be an old museum filled with the relics of Ancient Greece. The narrator should sound familiar: that’s the legendary Charlton Heston in one of his final roles before he retired from acting in 2003.

There are actually nine Muses in Greek mythology, but I’m guessing that the animators wanted to simplify things and cut the number down to five.

With Heston’s voice, the first section of the prologue has a very serious tone until…the Muses (on the Greek vase) interrupt him and inform him that “we’ll take it from here darling.” After that, the entire feel of the prologue changes from serious to…well, a “Disney” feel.

Back when the world was new
The planet Earth was down on its luck
And everywhere gigantic brutes called Titans ran amok

It was a nasty place
There was a mess wherever you stepped
Where chaos reigned and earthquakes and volcanoes never slept

And then along came Zeus
He hurled his thunderbolt
(He zapped)
Locked those suckers in a vault
(They’re trapped)
And on his own stopped chaos in its tracks
And that’s the gospel truth
The guy was too type “A” to just relax

And that’s the world’s first dish
Zeus tamed the globe while still in his youth
Though, honey, it may seem impossible
That’s the gospel truth
On Mt. Olympus life was neat and smooth as sweet vermouth
Though, honey, it may seem impossible
That’s the gospel truth


“Gospel Truth” serves multiple purposes: It introduces the Muses (who narrate various portions of the film), it summarizes how Zeus came into power (by defeating the Titans and imprisoning them) and finally it describes how all the gods live on Mount Olympus. The picture then shifts from a painted image of Mount Olympus to a “live” image that quickly zooms the audience up to the fantastic dwelling of the Greek gods.


I love this song a lot. Given that this is a film about Ancient Greece, you would not expect to hear songs performed in the “Gospel” style, but it works! It gets a lot of story exposition across without boring the audience. I also love how the song is narrated through art “come to life” that’s done in the style of actual Greek pottery.


Art like this inspired the animators

Trivia Time!

After the dark tone presented in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), the studio practically demanded that the next film be lighter and happier, and so that’s why Hercules is filled with so many comedic moments.

James Woods (the voice of Hades) allegedly enjoyed playing the character so much that he and Disney put a standing arrangement in place where anytime they needed him to voice the character, he would come do it.

Rip Torn (the voice of Zeus) was married to Geraldine Page, who voiced Madame Medusa in The Rescuers (1977).

And that’s my look at the beginning of Disney’s Hercules! Let me know your thoughts about this awesome song in the comments below!

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

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For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney A-Z

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)