Disney is known for a lot of things. You know, Mickey Mouse, theme parks, Walt Disney’s frozen head… lots of things. But, for the most part, Disney is all about that family magic, producing characters and stories that children and adults love.
But not everything Disney makes is rainbows and sunshine–they’re Disney villains, and we love them.
Top 5 Disney Villain Songs
One of the most interesting things Disney has accomplished is some incredible antagonists. For such a large entity that’s major focus is the children demographic, Disney puts out some surprisingly fantastic villains and with that some incredibly legit musical numbers. In celebration of the wonderful month of October and all things creepy, let’s drop my three favorite Disney villain tunes.
#1 – “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, The Little Mermaid
Ursula is a villain whose goal is quite clear (she wants Triton’s throne), but whose actual motivation is entirely shrouded. All we really get from her is that she was part of the court at one point, now exiled to a life as a sea witch, left to tricking those “poor unfortunate souls” who find her.
Even with the semi-plot-hole that is Ursula’s back story, her song is probably my favorite of all those sung by Disney villains. I love the lighting effects in this scene in conjunction with fantastic lyrical and musical harmony. Ursula is fantastically evil–I mean, she’s willing to entrap a teenage girl–and, dude, she’s voiced by Pat Carroll. Enough said.
#2 – “Hellfire”, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Who knew that the carnal desires of a creepy old bigot would make for such great music, right? Both the scene as well as the song cements the atrocity of Frollo’s character. He makes it very clear the lengths he’ll go to avoid admitting that he’s wrong:
It’s not my fault
If in God’s plan
He made the devil so much
Stronger than a man
And, I mean, come on–the animation is insane. The fiery image of Esmeralda alone makes me want to kneel down and worship the screen, but then there’s smokey Esmeralda and I’m so there. Beyond gorgeous, beyond creepy. This is one well-executed scene, to say the least.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is probably one of Disney’s most adult animated features, and Frollo’s despicable character is a big part of that. I mean, be mine or be lit on fire? Hmm, choices, choices.
#3 – “Friends on the Other Side”, The Princess and the Frog
Dr. Facilier is a fantastic villain. Motivated almost entirely by his lackluster lot in life, Dr. Facilier (a play on the word facile, meaning “easy” in French) feels he has a right to a better life. It is that perceived “right” that pushes Dr. Facilier to target those around him who seem to have drawn the higher lots–and a foreign prince meets that criteria perfectly.
“Friends on the Other Side” is brought to life by the voice of Keith David (ugh, just so good, I can’t even) in conjunction with some spectacular animation. This scene acts as a premise to multiple facets of the film, including establishing Laurence and Naveen’s character motivations, as well as cementing Dr. Facilier’s power–all in one well-executed moment of the film. And dang, I love this song.
#4 – “Mother Knows Best (Reprise)”, Tangled
Now Mother Gothel is one villainous woman. She uses what is most essentially a very sacred role to a child’s life, that of “mother”, and uses its power to manipulate for her own benefit. Mother Gothel acts motherly enough to retain Rapunzel’s love, but otherwise utilizes fear and sociopathic diversion techniques to keep Rapunzel under her control.
I love both renditions of “Mother Knows Best”–both of them tell us a lot about Mother Gothel’s motivations, but it’s the reprisal that we see how evil she really is. While her motivation is quite fantastical (using her magical hair to stay young), it’s not unbelievable. There are mothers all around the world manipulating their children much like Mother Gothel, all in the hopes to keep them under their control. I think that’s why Mother Gothel’s character feels so sinister–she’s real.
#5 – “Gaston”, Beauty and the Beast
While on the lighter side of a villain song, “Gaston” is still brilliant and acts a strong character set-up. “Gaston” makes it clear who exactly its titular character is–a self-absorbed, co-dependent man whose entire worth relies on the opinions of others.
Gaston is ego at its most terrifying height, willing to falsely imprison a man as insane and murder another for the sake of getting what he wants. While I love the live-action rendition of the song, as well as the additions made to Gaston’s character within the film, of course I’ve got to link to the classic version of the song from the animated film with Richard White. So fantastic.
So, there you have it. My five favorite Disney villain songs, in no particular order. All fantastic, all worth listening to over and over again.
What’s your favorite Disney villain tune?