Disney. The movies, the music, the magic. The company that gave us Disney Princesses as role models, pirates as best friends, and talking toys that would never let us down. It's easy to get swept up in the magic and heroics of Disney movies, but there is also plenty to admire on the darker side of Disney stories.
Every hero needs a proper villain, and here Disney does not disappoint. From vengeful lions to arrogant lords to glamorous octopuses, every Disney movie isn't complete without a proper Disney villain. And why let the hero have all the musical fun? Some of Disney's best numbers come not from the mouths of the good, but from the depths of evil.
10. "Trust in Me"
"Trust in Me" from Disney's "The Jungle Book" reads more like a hymn than a full song, but is no less creepy. Kaa the Snake's attempts to hypnotize Mowgli in order to eat him alive are full of resounding hisses between words, making the situation all the more freaky. Plus think of the context, a poor young boy alone in the woods is tricked into trusting a stranger that appears to be nice...it's easy to shudder at the thought.
9. "Prince Ali (Reprise)"
The screenwriters originally created 4 different songs for Jafar to sing on his own in Disney's "Aladdin", yet none made it to the final cut. What did make it however, was this sinister reprise of the earlier song "Prince Ali," yet this time Aladdin's favor was the last thing on Jafar's mind. Though some fans may feel cheated out of a more epic song for the great villain that is Jafar (to which I can sympathize), it also points to something exceptionally dark about this character when he can take the hero's song and turn it back on him. Jafar exposes Aladdin's lies to Jasmine in a tune that was once used for celebration, but is now only used to signify his betrayal.
8. "Mine, Mine, Mine"
At first listen, this may not sound like your typical villainous tune. It's upbeat, fast, and hopeful. Yet what it's hopeful for is where the real evil is found.
Governor Ratcliffe sings this song to his men as they land in the New World and begin their hunt for gold. Here Ratcliffe is clearly motivated by his incessant greed for money and splendor, and gives the audience a clear indicator of his future actions (the epitome of which can be found in the immensely popular song "Savages," an epic that didn't make it on this list due to it's confrontational nature, rather than a quintessential villain song).
7. "Mother Knows Best"
As the most recent song on the list (but that in no way lessens it's quality), "Mother Knows Best" finds Mother Gothel singing to her ward Rapunzel in Disney's "Tangled". She tries to convince Rapunzel that staying inside her tower (read: prison) is in her best interests, when rather it's to Mother Gothel's benefit in order to stay young. She identities "ruffians, thugs, poison ivy, quicksand," and many more terrors that await Rapunzel outside the door, all while trying to make her forget about her request to go see "the lights."
But of course, Rapunzel goes anyway, or there would be no story. Looks like Mother Gothel needs to work on her persuasion just a bit.
6. "Cruella de Vil"
Easily the most recognizable Disney villain melody, this song is not song by the villain herself but by the protagonist's perspective of her "inhuman" deeds.
It's hard not to fall in love with the way Roger sings to his wife Anita with his new tune in Disney's "101 Dalmatians" but there's a sinister undertone lurking in every word. While he's singing, audiences are privy to Cruella's car screeching down the street, her ominous shadow appearing at the door, and the terrified reactions of Pongo and Perdita as they hear her coming.
5. "Friends on the Other Side"
Magic comes to life in this New Orleans inspired animation, "The Princess and the Frog" and nowhere is that more evident than in Dr. Facilier's lesson about his "friends on the other side." The "other side" being the voodoo spirit world from which he calls forth the magic that turns the main characters into frogs.
With amazing animation and chilling vocals, this Disney villain song is not to be missed.
"No one's been like Gaston" is certainly true of this villain in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". A high-ranking, selfish nobleman in a class all his own, Gaston won't take "no" for an answer after his advances towards the town beauty and lead character Belle come to nothing. This high energy song reveals to the audience Gaston's self-centered motivations, while also being a really engaging beat that'll have audiences singing along.
For the remake rendition (which is also amazing) of "Gaston," click here.
3. "Be Prepared" (The Lion King)
Not only does this song and the vocals provided by Jeremy Irons create an amazing new addition to the Disney villain genre, the visuals by the amazing animation team serve to perfectly accent the darkness and evil within Scar.
As he hatches a plot to kill King Mufasa in Disney's "The Lion King" Scar lays out part of his plan while telling his hyena followers, to "be prepared for the coup of the century". This serves as a glimpse to the darkness yet to come within the plot.
Plus, the songwriters took perfect advantage of Scar's characterization as a lion with the line "my teeth and ambition are bared, be prepared."
2. "Hellfire" (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
I'm definitely older than Disney's target demographic, but this villain song from Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" still manages to give me chills. The film's main villain, Claude Frollo, lusts after the gypsy girl Esmeralda and basically spends his time in one of Disney's darkest songs cursing her to hell. In a particularly brutal line, "choose me or your pyre," Frollo succumbs to the Devil who, as he claims, "is so much stranger than a man."
Note: This article was written the day after the Notre Dame fire and my heart is with that beautiful piece of church and history. Check here to find out more about what happened and get live updates as new facts come to light.
1. "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid)
Coming in at number one is the most classic Disney villain song of all time. Motivated by her desire for King Trident's crown, Ursula (based on real life drag queen Divine) grants Ariel legs in exchange for her voice for three days in this famous scene from Disney's "The Little Mermaid". Of course, she has very little faith that Ariel will actually win the man of her dreams within those three days, as was their agreement, but she still attempts to make Princess Ariel's journey as hard as possible.
I watched this movie every day when I was younger, and I haven't met anyone who couldn't belt out at least three lines of this amazing Disney villain song.
And I can't wait to see what future numbers Disney has in store...
*cue evil laughter*