This is a fun little post I was thinking about as my kids and I listened to a Disney villain song collection in the car. It was a little random and missing some good ones, but it got me considering it.
Here are the best Disney Villain songs, ranked by me.
#5 Be Prepared – The Lion King
This song on the list was almost a given, as The Lion King is one of the best of the Disney animated films. Scar (with the exception of Ursula, who was originally Triton’s sister, a relationship removed from the movie but restored to the stage musical) is family to the characters he is destroying. He is kills his own brother in order to be king, and is completely willing to also permanently psychologically damage (and then kill) his own nephew for it too. Jeremy Irons is perfect for this song, and it is ominous as he plots the coup of the royal family. It’s also full of Nazi imagery, which should terrify today’s snowflakes looking for swastikas around every corner.
#4 Mother Knows Best – Tangled
I almost ranked this one higher – it was a little bit of a struggle, but the next song is a little shocking for a Disney song, even a villain, so this one ended up at #4. Mother Gothel kidnapped the baby princess Rapunzel to use her magic hair to stay young and beautiful forever, and has kept the child locked up in a tower her entire life. This song is the epitome of feminine abuse – catty comments, underhanded jabs, and most of all, scaring and manipulating a young woman to stay completely dependent on her. She is crushing Rapunzel’s self confidence and self reliance, all so she can be beautiful. Take note at the end of the song, when Mother Gothel tells Rapunzel “I love you most” she kisses Rapunzel’s hair and not her.
#3 My Lullaby – The Lion King II
So this is a movie that has mostly been relegated to the dustbin, as it was one of the direct to video sequels of the late Eisner years at Disney. I haven’t watched it again as an adult, but it isn’t too bad if I remember it correctly. It has had a tiny bit of a resurgence lately as they’ve chosen not to totally trash the canon from it; Simba’s daughter Kiara is in the new television show The Lion Guard. The music in it is actually quite good, and this song is one of the reasons.
The plot is that several of Scar’s followers were expelled from the Pridelands by Simba, including Zira and her three children. Her youngest son, Kovu, was chosen to be Scar’s successor. She is singing him to sleep in the song My Lullaby.
The corruption of a child, and her celebration of violence and wrath also make it noteworthy.
#2 Friends on the Other Side – The Princess and the Frog
This is The Shadow Man – Dr. Facilier – trapping Prince Naveen with voodoo in The Princess and The Frog. Keith David’s talent makes this song, as does the willingness to be explicit and creepy with his shadow summons. He is tempting both Naveen and his manservant Lawrence with their heart’s desires – money and respect. I also find it noteworthy for using the temptation of a gamma – a cowardly man who cannot stand up for himself wanting to take the power and respect of another man. He thinks he deserves what Naveen has, despite never making any effort to improve his own lot in life. He would betray and destroy Naveen in order to get it.
“In your future, the you I see…is exactly the man you always wanted to be,” sings the Shadow Man as he shows Lawrence a card with him as the king, abusing his master.
#1 Hellfire – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
With the exception of #3, this is likely to be one of the songs on the list that has been heard the least. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is – generally quite rightfully, I feel – scoffed at for the “Disney” changes made to Victor Hugo’s classic novel. And on the other side of the divide, many Disney fans didn’t like it because it didn’t have the requisite happy ending. But the music in it is incredible (Don’t believe me? Go listen to it). The musical, which changes the plotline to be at least slightly closer to the original story, also has amazing music.
Rumor is that Roy Disney gave the creators permission to push the envelope and do something different with this movie, and in Hellfire, you can see it. It is an intense song about Frollo condemning Esmerelda to eternal fire for not returning his affections.
That is my ranking of the Disney Villain Songs! There are a couple of good ones (Poor Unfortunate Souls, Oogie Boogie’s Song, and The Mob Song, for example) that just missed the top five. What are your favorite Disney Villain songs and why?