All right, I’m going to level with you folks. I’ve been on a bit of a Disney Bender of late. Just one of those things where an idea pops into my head, and all I can think is, “I need to do that. Right now.” So after a few days of binging on all those classic Disney films and the nostalgia bomb that was subsequently dropped on me I started to wonder what exactly it was that I loved about these films. There are many reasons I assure you, but for now I am going to focus on one aspect in particular.
I know I’m super late to this party, but dammit I want to talk about these things. By now I’m sure that any of you who are remotely interested in Disney know that they have many iconic and beloved villains. Some of these are more known than the protagonists of the films. These characters just ooze charisma or have a certain “it” factor that make them truly unforgettable. As I was going through these movies I realized that what I was really waiting for was for the villains to make their debut. Goddam I just really like these characters. And do you know what truly makes a Disney villain great? A catchy song detailing their nefarious schemes and motivations, as you do. Seriously, any Disney villain worth mentioning has a song and dance number that sticks with almost more than anything the hero does. Personally I find that the villains have the best songs of the entire movie; old news, I know.
For the sake of simplicity I’m keeping this to the animated Disney movies, the ones that may fall under the “classic” title. Now it was a bit of a struggle to narrow my choices down to just five, but I’m pretty sure most people would agree, these songs are just too iconic to leave out. With that, years after the fact, I humbly present my list of my top 5 Disney villain songs.
5. Friends on the Other Side: Princess and the Frog:
I’m starting this list off with one of the more recent examples of great villainy in song form. What a goddam trip this song was. This spooky, voodoo-inflected song really showcases Dr. Facilier’s character and his motives, as any good villain song does. What really helps this song out is Keith David absolutely killing it with the vocals. I believe that anything Keith David touches turns to gold, with him singing how could anything go wrong? He brings just enough charm while still being absolutely sinister that you just can’t help but be enthralled. The lyrics also help with the many not-so–subtle references to the coming plot. They convey the pure fun of this song while also containing the insidious undertone of Dr. Facilier. The visuals here are also tippy as hell. With all kinds of voodoo inspired imagery this song is big, broad, and scary, what with all the little voodoo dolls and such running around. This was also a very colorful ride, seriously just look at the last act of the song; it’s a riot of color. And as a colorblind person I think that’s saying something. Friends on the Other Side is so good that it elevates Dr. Facilier to the level of classic Disney villain.
Check it out here.
4. Gaston: Beauty and the Beast:
How could this song not be on this list? This may be one of the most beloved Disney songs, period. This is a song all about how awesome Gaston is. It’s all about ego and how the town people practically worship the man. Can you really blame them? Look at the guy, he’s awesome. The song has that all important catchiness to it that sets the great songs apart from the rest. This entire song glorifies the deplorable Gaston, but does so in such a way that you can’t help but get on board. It takes a few listens for the lyrics to really sink in, but as you listen it becomes apparent that Gaston is a terrible person despite how upbeat and catchy the tune is. I also find it kind of funny that instead of wondering where Belle may have gone off to he just sulks and drinks, like he`s not even remotely curious about it. Even when Belle`s father comes in saying she`s been kidnapped by a beast Gaston basically says “oh, neat.” And then immediately plots to have the father declared insane. What a guy, that Gaston. Also “every last inch of me is covered in hair.” Swoon.
Take a look here.
3. Poor Unfortunate Souls: The Little Mermaid:
Everyone who has seen The Little Mermaid at some point or another has tried erupting from a pool to shake out their hair like Ariel, I know I did. Don’t lie you did it too. This may in fact be the first Disney villain song I ever encountered, and it’s stuck with me. It’s chock full of all the messages that should be imparted to young children, like if you want to find love you need to change everything about yourself. It would be troubling if it wasn’t so blatantly evil. I also think this would be a lot more persuasive if it didn’t come from a squid lady who was banished for being evil and has a weirdly specific demand for payment. What I like about this song is that it starts off so slow and peaceful, as Ursula has to tempt Ariel first, it then ramps up in craziness both in tone and imagery until it reaches a crescendo of pure crazy. It’s great. Also Ursula’s movements throughout just add to the creepy factor.
Agin, watch it here.
2. Be Prepared: The Lion King
Remember that time when over the course of one musical number Scar turned a group of hyenas in to the fucking Third Reich? Me too. Boy was that sure something. It wasn’t really something that I noticed until I was much older and just a bit wiser. When I was young it was just a group of hyenas marching to a song, nothing wrong there. And then I grew up. Oh boy, what a difference time makes. Instead of being a catchy little number it was all of a sudden an army of hyenas goose-stepping to a chilling murder plot. All that aside, how good was this song? Be Prepared is an enjoyably menacing song. This number tops many peoples list for not only best villain song, but best Disney song in general. The visuals start out rather tame but only get creepier and more malevolent as the song progresses, all culminating in that Third Reich inspired sequence near the end. And to top it all off there’s Jeremy Irons lending his voice to the song. I’m not sure if he was trying to sing the song or just delightfully speak his way through it, either way it sure sounds good.
Enjoy it here.
- Hellfire: Hunchback of Notre Dame:
Seriously, where the hell did this come from? In what might be Disney’s ballsiest song to date we see some pretty weird, and quite frankly, scary shit happen. This song took a lot of chances as it explored the mind frame of potentially the greatest Disney villain ever, Judge Claude Frollo. This song is so interesting because Frollo isn’t singing about ho weevil he is or how he wants power, it’s about his ethical dilemma of his faith and his desire for the gypsey Esmerelda. It also follows Frollo as he goes increasingly fucking nuts because of this. Seriously, what the hell happened here? It’s scary because this guy either wants to have Esmerelda for himself, or to fix his moral problem, burn her at the stake. You know, the rational solution. For a kids film it has all the things you wouldn’t expect to see, half naked women, sexual cravings, religious taboos, you know all those family friendly things. And holy shit how about the visuals here? The crazy hellish fire images alone would be enough to scare anybody, and the half-naked woman in the fire sure was a thing. But what really stands out is the robed figures that pop up out of nowhere in Frollo’s rising insanity. This is where shit really kicks off, here Frollo continues to state that everything he is going through isn’t his fault, that it’s the fault of someone else. All the while the robed figures chant “mea culpa” which literally means “my fault.” Just…wow. What a thing this song turned out to be, and that’s only scratching the surface. But that is also why this is the number one Disney Villain song.
Take a look here.