It's Halloween today and what better way to celebrate it than with a villainous blog post to close off Villain's Month with? Before you all go off trick-or-treating tonight, join me as we delve into one way that villains really make their mark in the world of media. And that way is through music.
Heroes often have a grand musical number but the villains are no slouches in that department either. They can either be the best song of the movie/musical/whatever media it is or they can be what makes the villain even more memorable. After all, what's not to like about a villain who sings about his devious deeds?
Get ready to sing and dance along with these bad guys as we count down the Top 10 Villain Songs. For this countdown, the villain song can come from ANY media. It doesn't have to be strictly movies here, it can be from TV shows, albums or musicals too. I'm the Media Man and these are the Top 10 Villain Songs...let the symphony of evil commence!
AH, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
Number 10: Magic Dance from Labyrinth
Everyone who has seen the movie LOVES this song and it's so easy to see why. IT'S DAVID BOWIE SINGING A VILLAIN SONG! How can you NOT enjoy that?!
Magic Dance is an absolute show-stopper of a tune that is insanely catchy and instantly quotable with its memorable lyrics. All you have to do is just start singing "You remind me of the babe..." and I'm sure plenty of others will join in with you. The song itself also fits in with the surreal nature of Labyrinth by having the back-up singers all be weird fantastical creatures that came out of a children's fantasy story and all brought to life with the great puppetry that only the Jim Henson company could provide. The song also comes off as creepy at times given the Goblin King's singing about his "baby" and we have that rather uncomfortable theory surrounding this movie that he might be somewhat interested in Sarah. He even says rather gleefully to her brother "In nine hours and twenty three minutes, you'll be mine!" That's pretty creepy...
As is, the song is just so much fun and is one of many enjoyable moments in Labyrinth. You have David Bowie doing what he does best with his vocal performance, the great puppet work on all the goblins accompanying him in the scene and fun instrument work. With the fantastical imagery and David's performance, the song does feel magical as a result, which is fitting considering it has magic in the title. This song is so enjoyable that even the baby playing Toby looks like he's having a good time. I genuinely wonder what that baby thought to everything going on around him when filming this musical number...
As great as this song is, I put it at the bottom of the list because it feels less like a "villain song" or more like a "David Bowie musical number". Heck, if you took this song out of the movie and show it to someone with no context, they'd probably think they were watching some weird David Bowie music video than a scene from a movie. And yet without context, I bet they'd still enjoy the song anyway.
Still, Magic Dance is a magic music number in a magical movie and I think the Goblin King can enjoy the fact he rules over the Number 10 spot on this list.
Number 9: Double Trouble from Pokémon
Now this one might be considered strange because this song isn't even from the main anime or any of the Pokémon movies. It's a song from the Pokémon 2 B.A. Master album that was released back during the anime's heyday in the late 90's-early 2000's. But as mentioned above, songs from albums are allowed here too so here we are. Besides, the anime would feature this song during the Pikachu's Jukebox segments at the end of the episode (remember when that used to be a thing?) so I guess it counts as coming from the anime as well?
The 2 B.A. Master album is a fun nostalgic time capsule of Pokémon history and a window into the franchise's big boom in the early days of its life. Double Trouble is one of the reasons the album is enjoyable. It's a song all about Team Rocket, as you probably guessed from the title, and it's one catchy song. Once you hear it, it'll NEVER leave your head. What makes the song even better is that the song is actually performed by the original voices of Jessie and James themselves, Rachel Lillis and Eric Stuart, and we get the occasional line from Meowth and Giovanni with their actors reprising their roles too. Rachel and Eric absolutely knock the ball out the park with their vocal performances and the backup singers are also great too, especially when they get to the chorus and start singing "Team Rocket's Rockin!"It's a compilation of vocals that make for one great sounding song.
What makes Double Trouble such a fun tune is that it even somewhat feels like Team Rocket propaganda. I can so imagine Team Rocket, especially when it's Jessie, James and Mewoth doing it, singing this song to try an entice people into joining the team and they do it in a way that makes joining Team Rocket sound almost fun and like it'd be awesome to be a part of it. One has to wonder why the anime never did an episode where that happens? XD Of course, they couldn't resist ending the song without the ever famous "Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off agaaaaaaaaaaaaain!" at the end. How else would a song about Team Rocket conclude? XD
If you want a song that makes being bad and capturing Pokémon sound fun and enjoyable, than Double Trouble is just the tune for you. Prepare for trouble and make it double indeed as Team Rocket's absolutely rockin' with this great villain song...
Number 8: My Lullaby from The Lion King 2
The Disney sequels don't have the best track record out there. Very few of them can actually be considered good with The Lion King 2 being one of those few. I myself even consider it one of my favourite Disney sequels and one of my favourite sequels to an animated movie in general. A large reason for that is down to the fantastic soundtrack that is just as enjoyable as the first movie. And this song is one of those examples of the soundtrack being awesome!
My Lullaby is almost the equivalent to "Be Prepared" from the first movie with it being the song that the villainous lion of the movie sings and how the song is about preparation to commit murder. In this case, Zira's singing about how she's going to groom Kovu to be the one that takes Simba down and how the sounds of death and pained screams from her foes are a lullaby that can put her to sleep. These lyrics can get pretty twisted too, especially with her singing things like "the sound of Simba's dying gasp", "his daughter squealing in my grasp" and much more. It really gives us a creep insight into Zira's psyche and what a messed up villainess she is. How does one feel so much rage and hatred that images like that are their idea of a soothing lullaby? Then again, her name does mean "hate" in Swahili so why am I surprised at that?
While I wouldn't say Suzanne Pleshette is the best singer ever, she still manages to sell this musical number by giving off one hell of an energetic and sinister performance. She is on top form throughout the song as she brings out Zira's anger and vengeful personality and I especially love how at the beginning of the song, she sounds more soft and motherly as she sings Kovu to sleep and then once he does go to sleep, her tone changes drastically into something more monstrous. The climax of the song is especially awesome with the epic drumming in the background and the song getting more loud and bombastic as it goes along. We also get some unintentional humour during this scene as we can't help but wonder "How the heck is Kovu sleeping through all that?" XD
My Lullaby is an awesome villain song for an awesome villain and Zira would've made Scar proud by giving off a dark and twist tune for all to enjoy as he did. This is one lullaby that will get anyone in the mood for whatever dark deeds they have cooking up in their minds...
Number 7: Smile Darn Ya Smile from Batman TBatB and I Go Loony from The Killing Joke
We have a legitimate tie for this entry and for good reason. It's TWO villain songs by The Joker! How can I possibly pick between them? These are great Joker songs for different reasons and I enjoy them equally.
Smile Darn Ya Smile is sung by The Joker from Batman: The Brave and the Bold and is a song that fits his crazy and over-the-top nature. With some awesome rock music and a fantastic performance from voice-acting superstar Jeff Bennett, this tune is just a banger and is infectiously enjoyable. I especially love how crazy the visuals get with The Joker flaunting his godly abilities through Gotham and turning into some crazy wonderland where he's the king and everything bows down to his will. He even runs through the city like he's Godzilla rampaging through Tokyo and dances with Gotham's equivalent of the Statue of Liberty! That kind of loony imagery is just perfect for a Joker musical number. And it's also perfectly in-character for him to sing about how someone should smile and where's the fun in something. The Joker's all about bringing chaos for his own amusement and the song reflects that aspect of his character so well.
On the other end of the coin, you have I Go Loony from The Killing Joke movie adaptation which is a musical number that reflects The Joker's darker side with less emphasis on crazy imagery on more on trying to psychologically break Commissioner Gordon. The visuals themselves are even more grim and horrific than cartoony and over-the-top and the lyrics themselves are all about how The Joker copes with a dark and unforgiving world, feeling that the best way to cope in such a world is just to embrace the madness and go loony. The lyrics are amazing, even better when you consider they're lifted straight from the original comic, and Mark Hamill gives an enjoyably villainous performance as he sings this song. I guarantee once you've seen this scene, you'll never be able to read the comic without singing it the way Mark Hamill does here. Once again, this song feels so in-character for The Joker and the lyrics proper feel as if he wrote them himself.
With one song representing The Joker's crazy side and the other representing his dark side, these two songs give us a whole summation of The Joker's character and as a result are two enjoyably villainous tunes that only the Clown Prince of Crime could give us. So Smile Darn Ya Smile and Go Loony as you listen to these songs that will put a smile on your face...
Number 6: Intelligence from Help! I'm A Fish
I am willing to bet that almost everybody reading this post has never even heard of this movie. And that saddens me because Help! I'm A Fish is a vastly underrated animated film that I think holds up better than most mainstream animated movies we get in this day and age. It's gorgeously animated, it's engaging to watch, it's surprisingly tense at times, it's funny, it's emotional and it has a fun early 2000's style soundtrack that adds to the enjoyment of this movie. This song is by far the best example of that.
Intelligence is instantly awesome by sheer novelty alone. It's a villain song by ALAN FREAKING RICKMAN HIMSELF! THAT. IS. INCREDIBLE! And he's really darn good here too. His trademark voice gives the song a rather haunting, dark feel to the words he sings and yet at the same time he manages to sound somewhat inviting and charismatic as he sings about how he can change the lives of all fish in the ocean with his magic potion he's gained thanks to the humans losing it earlier in the movie. The song feels like villainous propaganda as a result as Joe is singing to all these fish and promising them a transformation that will enrich their lives forever and give them intelligence like they've never had before. He certainly makes it sound very glamorous and if I were a fish, I'd probably buy into his propaganda.
Not only is the song enjoyable to listen to thanks to Alan Rickman's performance, but it's catchy too with its great instrumentals, fun vocals from the backup singers as we get to the chorus part and lyrics that sell the idea on how enticing this whole idea of being given a chance to ascend to a greater stage of evolution must sound to these fish. It also gives you an idea on just how much Joe is seen as this magic provider for the fish as they call him numerous titles like "King of the Carp", "Lord of the Krill" and "Prince of the Whales". You know you've delivered what you've promised when people think that highly of you. The only thing ruining the song is that Fly just comes in and interrupts the song right at the end so it doesn't even get a proper conclusion. I can so imagine Joe thinking "Do you mind, I was basking in the glory of my awesome song here!" XD
Regardless, Intelligence is an underrated villain song from an equally as underrated movie. I highly recommend checking this film out some day. You may be pleasantly surprised. And this song is one of only a few great things about it too. You don't need to be overly intelligent to see that this is one of the greatest villain songs of all time...
Number 5: In the Dark of the Night from Anastasia
Anastasia was the last time Don Bluth ever made a successful movie, both critically and financially. While I don't consider it the best Don Bluth movie ever, it is pretty decent overall and has some lovely animation and a memorable soundtrack. While we remember songs like "Once Upon A December", I think the song most people think of when it comes to Anastasia is easily In the Dark of the Night.
Sung by the villainous Rapsutin, In the Dark of the Night is one of those villain songs where it's the villain singing gleefully about how much he/she is going to enjoy murder and in this case, it's Rasputin excitably singing about how he'll wipe out the last remaining member of the Romanoff family. With Jim Cummings providing his singing voice instead of Christopher Lloyd, Jim gives a gloriously threatening performance as he sings the song with his harsh, gravelly voice adding an air of menace to every word he sings in this song. The backup singers are also great too as they sing the chorus parts alongside Jim and we have that one bug with the deep voice singing "Find her!" and "Doom Her!" near the end of the song. What also helps to make this song so enjoyable and memorable is the great drum work and rock guitar music accompanying the vocals. It's quite an awesome mix and adds more to the grandiose nature of the song. Like many, I am a little confused at the "tie my sash in a dash of cologne for that smell!" line. That's a bit weird but at least the rest of the lyrics are dark and villainous as we expect from a villain song.
Some might find the visuals a bit of a let-down as Rasputin's basically singing alongside a bunch of colourful bugs which isn't particularly a creepy image for a song like this. With the kind of lyrics you hear, you'd imagine something straight out of a gothic horror story like skeletons rising from their graves or demonic bat creatures flying everywhere. But this is a family-friendly movie so we can't go too over-the-top with the dark visuals and I still think they manage to be creepy in some way whether it's Rasptuin's body falling apart at one point or him conducting his dark spells during the climax of the song. Besides, anyone with a fear of insects would probably find these images creepy anyway. Regardless, Don Bluth's masterclass animation brings this song to life beautifully and we get a song that's great to watch and listen to at the same time.
Don Bluth's last ever musical movie ended on a high note with its awesome soundtrack and this song is one of the reasons why it's awesome. With its dark lyrics, threatening vocal performance from Jim Cummings and superb instrumentals, this is one song that you'll enjoy as you go wandering in the dark of the night this Halloween...
Number 4: Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid
We all love Pat Carroll's performance as Ursula in The Little Mermaid and it's not just her speaking roles we love. We also love her singing role too as we get one of the best villain songs to come out of the Disney Renaissance.
Poor Unfortunate Souls is a classic and for very good reason. It's sensationally enjoyable thanks to the gloriously over-the-top performance of Pat Caroll the slow build-up that leads to one crazy climax. The song starts off slow and easy-going, almost like a waltz as Ursula sings about how she's supposedly reformed and is the kind of witch who is willing to help out poor unfortunate souls in pain and in need. Yet even during the first half, she still carries an air of menace to what she says, especially when she mentions what happens to those that couldn't pay the price. It's a proper deal with the devil kind of thing where she has a proposition for you that you might want to think carefully about as there could be a catch to this deal that may sound too good to be true. Even the visuals give us an inkling on what kind of character she is as we have the warming pink glows of her cauldron contrasted heavily with the dark, creepy images of her garden plants that serve as examples of merfolk who have fallen victim to her dark deals. It's like the cauldron is painting this kind illusion of Ursula while her garden displays the true monster she is underneath.
And then we get the second half where Ursula goes more over-the-top and the visuals become crazier and more frantic as she throws all sorts of stuff into her cauldron and concocts a variety of spells that get colourful and explosive. Even the music gets more fast-paced and epic as the song builds up and up. It's a brilliant mix of fun and intensity as Ursula enjoyably hams up what is otherwise a scary moment for Ariel as she has to make her choice to either accept Ursula's deal or go without her prince. It always gets fun to watch around this part and it never gets old as a result. And if you think this song's enjoyable, we get an equally as enjoyable version from Queen Latifah in The Little Mermaid Live! as you can see here: Poor Unfortunate Souls - The Little Mermaid Live! - YouTube
Poor Unfortunate Souls is one of many examples of Alan Menken's great work on the music and songs for the Disney films of the Renaissance period and it stands as one of the best and most enjoyable moments of The Little Mermaid thanks to Pat Carroll's performance, the great composition and brilliant song writing that makes for one enjoyable song. You're no poor unfortunate soul if you enjoy this delightfully devious tune...
Number 3: Savages from Pocahontas
I'm sure some might debate if this song really counts as a "villain song" per say. Personally I think it does and it deserves a spot on here for everything it is and how bold and daring it is for a song in a Disney movie of its time.
Savages is a song that I doubt Disney could ever get away with in this day and age. The song is a double act of the English and the Native Americans that sing about how they're going to go to war and kill the other side because of how they view each other as "Savages" and "barely even human". The song is dark as all hell with racism on full display from either side. It's a dark, musical reflection of how the cycle of hatred and bigotry rolls with how a few actions can cause both sides to desire nothing but death to one another. The album version of the song is even worse with lines like "their whole disgusting race is like a curse" and "Dirty red-skin devils" in place of the more tame "here's what you get when the races our diverse" and "Dirty shrieking devils" lyrics in the film version. Despite the dark lyrics and subject matter, the song is also enjoyable as all hell to listen to thanks to the sensational vocals of David Ogden Stiers as Ratcliffe and Jim Cummings as Powhatan with even Pocahontas herself (singing voice by Judy Khun) getting to join in with the song during the second half. Their vocals make for a great listen as does the brilliant music composition that accompanies this track.
Savages is another song that reflects perfectly in its visuals with many creative choices to make for a musical number that's great to watch as well as listen to. We start off with the English where they're surrounded mostly by fiery reds and oranges and armed with modern (at the time) weaponry which contrasts them heavily against the Native Americans where they're mostly bathed in peaceful blues and armed with old fashioned weaponry. The song even dips into the film's more fantastical side too with the cloud imagery of both sides reaching to one another ready for war, the cloud eagle flying beside Pocahontas as she runs into action and even the Native Americans marching by the waterfall with Ratcliffe and the English's images looming above them, an apt metaphor for how their enemies are coming for them. That image always stuck in my head as a kid and is just awesome.
Savages is the perfect theme song for what racism, hatred and prejudice is all about and creates one heck of an exciting climax as these two sides sing about how they're going to wipe one another out. There will never be another villain song like this again and that just makes this song all the more awesome as a result. This is a song in where you'd have to be a savage NOT to enjoy it...
Number 2: Be Prepared from The Lion King (1994)
To the surprise of no one, Be Prepared from the original Lion King makes the countdown here and not the remake. We don't talk about the remake. Besides, the original be Prepared is a classic through and through. What other reason do I need to include it here?
Be Prepared is a fan-favourite song from The Lion King and is one of the most popular tunes alongside "Hakuna Matata" and "Circle of Life". It's easy to see why as it's so good. The song is performed by Scar and the dark-maned lion gives us a tune that serves as a dark reflection to "Circle of Life". Circle of Life is a song about life and how life is all connected to one another while Be Prepared is about conspiring to murder and disrupt this circle of life by killing Mufasa, taking over the Pride Lands and letting the hyenas rule. What could be more appropriate for a villain song in The Lion King than that? I also give Jeremy Irons props for doing his best to sing the song himself and to his credit, he sounds great for the most part with his trademark deep, slithering voice adding that extra air of menace to his song that we can't help but enjoy. Sadly, his voice gave out near the end so after the line "You won't get a sniff without me!", Jim Cummings had to take over from him and to his insane credit, he fills in for him almost flawlessly! While it is possible to tell the difference, he still sounds convincing as Scar and unless you're listening out for the change in voice, you probably wouldn't even notice the difference! I know I didn't until that fact was pointed out to me.
Anyway, the song is also a visual delight too with the entire scene taking place in a cave full of geysers that is bathed in sickly greens, then becomes light with yellows and then becomes hellish with lots of red and rising rocks and geysers erupting all around Scar and the hyenas. It's like the environment itself is a manifestation of Scar's insanity and all hell breaks loose as he gets to the climax and he lets it all out. It's great visual storytelling that goes with a fantastic musical number that showcases how evil our main villain is. What more can I say about it? it's Be Prepared! We all love this song and for good reason!
Be Prepared is one of The Lion King's best songs and one of the greatest villain songs of all time. With its dark subject matter, villainous vocal performances and visuals that bring the song to life in a way only Disney can, you can be prepared to enjoy one amazing song from the Pride Lands...
And the Number 1 Villain Song Is: Hellfire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Yes I know, I'm so obvious. No need to rub it in guys. =P I mean what reason do I need to give here? It's freaking Hellfire! Everyone and their mothers has talked about why this is the best villain song of all time! And it deserves this title because it's so epic!
Hellfire is performed by Frollo, the villainous judge who is in an epic battle with his own sanity and his lusting desires for the gypsy Esmeralda. The song is pretty risqué compared to what we get from Disney movies with its rather adult subject matter and what the song ultimately represents. Frollo is a man of religion and considers himself a faithful Christian who will do what he does in the name of god, yet he's tormented by these unjust thoughts and desires he feels for Esmeralda. As he goes in in this song, he has two choices to make in life: either destroy the object of his obsession or control it and make Esmeralda his. This is pretty dark stuff and it's surprising that we have a song in a Disney movie of all things covering this. We even get some darkly relevant subject matter that is only more important to cover in this day and age: victim blaming. Frollo goes on about how "it's not his fault" and "it's the gypsy girl, the witch who sent this flame". There are all too many examples in the world out there of people out there giving in to their own lustful obsessions and then blaming the victims for it and acting like they're the ones that started it and tempted them into doing what they do. And I remind you, this came from a DISNEY movie! XD
The song is a delight to watch and listen to thanks to a variety of factors in it. We have Tony Jay giving it his all as he sings this song and gives a performance worthy of an Oscar. Accompanying him are some ominous instruments and church music along with Latin chanting that only adds to the religious nature of the song and the visuals are nothing short of haunting and striking with Frollo in front of the fireplace, the image of Esmeralda dancing seductively in said fireplace and the faceless hooded creatures that appear all around him as he claims it's not his fault. It's appropriate how a song called "Hellfire" has Frollo mostly bathed in the orange and yellow glows of the fire as if he's facing hell itself and has to convince God himself to have mercy on him and spare him this descent into hell. It all makes for one of the most visually striking and also eerie moments in the entire movie and the song itself leaves one hell (no pun intended) of an impact for what it is and what it accomplished in a family-friendly movie. I doubt Disney will ever do a musical moment like this again and that just makes Hellfire all the more special as a result.
With its dark subject matter, ominous lyrics, haunting performance from Tony Jay, sinister music and spooky visuals, Hellfire is a masterpiece of music and has stood the test of time as among the greatest songs ever to come from a Disney movie. It is more than worthy of holding its crown up high as The Number 1 Villain Song of All Time...
And that's it for the Top 10 Villain Songs. I hope you enjoyed this countdown of musical villainy and I invite you all to share your own favourite villain songs below. What's your Number 1? Feel free to tell me. For now, I wish you all a Happy Halloween and I'll see you later this week when I review Disney's dark cartoon from the 90's, Gargoyles. See you then everyone!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM THE MEDIA MAN