I already did Best Villains so in honor of Halloween it seemed appropriate to talk about some villain music. Particularly my favorite villain songs. Actually there aren’t as many as you’d think. Classic villains like Lady Tremaine and Maleficent don’t have a villain songs.
Special Notice- Hellfire- I could not put this on my list but I know everyone will ask about it. I just can’t support a song that is openly supporting the rape and murder of a woman. I’ve talked about it so much on the blog. It crosses a line I am not comfortable with. That said, it is very well sung and the animation is haunting, so for that reason I am honoring it as separate from my list.
So that said- my list.
10. Trust in Me- One of the first villain songs in any Disney film and it is close to an Adam and Eve type villain as Disney gives us. Like the serpent in the Biblical story, Kaaa oils and slithers his way around the jungle, hypnotizing his victims with his beguiling song. It is made all the more creepy by the fact it is Sterling Holloway, the voice of Winnie the Pooh claiming to be Mowgli’s best of friends.
9. Gaston- Perhaps the funniest villain song. It’s a big pep talk for our town hero. The fact that we know he wants to make our heroine unhappy at whatever cost gives it an eery undertone.
8. Heffalumps and Woozles- One of the spookiest moments of Disney. We’ve got a true nightmare with all the minor chords and inflections of a haunted house song. There is also always something creepy about toys like jack in the boxes. Plus, they want to steal Pooh’s honey! This song is especially effective when you think it is aimed at toddlers. It’s in every shape and size, size, SIZE!
7. Prince Ali Reprise- While a reprise and not a complete song it is very effective. A joyous number from earlier in the film is now used to control and manipulate. At this point in the story Jafar has total control of the Genie and everything else. It all looks very bad for our heroes.
6. Mob Song- An extremely chilling song because it’s an entire town taking on our heroes that are basically household items. How is this going to work? As the music escalates the tension gets tighter and stronger until we feel real panic, like a mob would feel. The animation is striking and captures the darkness and increasing madness of Gaston and the crowd.
5. Savages- Perhaps the most thoughtful Disney villain song and it is the redemption of Pocahontas which made my bottom 10 Disney movies. It is a cliche ridden historical travesty but in this song they reach some emotional truth. Some criticize it for the way it stereotypes people but that’s the whole point of the song. Both sides have rationalized why the other is the villain and needs to be done away with. It’s very profound and beautifully drawn and sung.
4. World’s Greatest Criminal Mind- Brought in a series of villain songs in movies that would go nearly uninterrupted for the next decade of Disney movies. Ratigan is a hilarious villain with Vincent Price as one of the best voices ever. The fact he kills a mouse for calling him a rat when his name is Ratigan is so funny. Kind of like Gaston it is a funny villain song but very effective. Ratigan is the closest Disney has ever gotten to an over-the-top Bond villain and I love it!
3. Mother Knows Best- As far as straight singing this is probably my favorite Disney villain song and one of my favorite songs. Donna Murphey is amazing as Mother Gothel. It is Sondheim level quality. It takes the nurturing of motherhood and uses it to control and manipulate a child. Is there anything colder than that? It’s so effective. I just love it!
2. Poor Unfortunate Souls- One of the most brilliant voice casting in Disney history. Pat Carroll gives Ursula a mix of a truck driver and a drag queen. She is on full saleswoman mode and uses every sweet and conniving method she can muster to tempt Ariel into her web. She would have said she’d cured cancer if it would have gotten her the ending she wants. That’s my kind of villain. The animation is brilliant and funny and I love that ursula is the only octopus we see aside from a brief glimpse of one in Under the Sea. There is nobody who looks like her. She is blackness, overweight, with red lipstick. Got to like that!
1. Be Prepared- In a movie where almost nobody did their own singing (even Broadway star Matthew Broderick didn’t), it is especially compelling Jeremy Irons sang Be Prepared. It is as close as Disney gets to a Hitler villain. He even has Nazi hyenas. He oils and defines his plan dripping with disdain for everyone including his brother. He is a sociopath who has no guilt throughout the movie for any of his choices. All he cares about is himself to the detriment of the entire kingdom.