Disney's Five Best Villain Songs

1. "Hellfire," The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Any villain song list should include this number just to recognize what an anomaly it is in the Disney canon. A song using the villain’s agony to portray his deviousness, “Hellfire” is colored with sexual imagery that’s actually milder than what was originally storyboarded. This sequence best signifies Hunchback's goal to be a great musical over a great Disney musical.

2. "Poor Unfortunate Souls," The Little Mermaid (1989)

Only mad geniuses like Alan Menken and Howard Ashman could successfully go straight from a reggae number into one inspired by Kurt Weill. This song, with dark and vigorous music and conversational lyrics, stands out in the middle of a generally bright score. It is Ursula’s defining moment, showing off that guttural quality in Pat Carroll’s performance I mentioned on Tuesday.

3. "The Headless Horseman," The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

I like to call this number “The Grandfather of All Disney Villain Songs.” Prior to Ichabod and Mr. Toad, any songs sung by villains were incidental. (“Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee” doesn’t take up much time in Pinocchio, does it?) “The Headless Horseman” was the first time a villain really put on a performance, and it establishes later hallmarks like dark color schemes, threatening physical actions and a villain being completely joyful over how scared his target is becoming.

4. "Be Prepared," The Lion King (1994)

Instead of intimidating the hero like in other villain songs, Scar uses his moment in the spotlight to call the hyenas to action. This song, the best one in The Lion King, indulges in stark imagery, chilling orchestrations and an alluring, even sexy, Jeremy Irons performance.

5. "Friends on the Other Side," The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Like the other Princess songs, this one starts and ends too soon. Still, “Friends” works as both a tribute to and a continuation of Disney’s great line of villain songs. Performed by the intoxicating Keith David, the song is simultaneously jazzy and menacing, even turning a bit hostile in its gleefully ironic reprise near the end of the movie.

Just Missed the Cut: "Cruella de Vil," "Goodbye So Soon," "The Mob Song"

Disney's Five Best Showstoppers

1. "Be Our Guest," Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Alan Menken’s tune will never leave your head and the Busby Berkley visuals are highly memorable, but this song tops the list simply for containing some of Howard Ashman’s most peculiar, unexpected and yet natural rhymes. (“While the cups do their softshoeing/I’ll be bubbling, I’ll be brewing”)

2. "Under the Sea," The Little Mermaid (1989)

Ariel's a nutcase if she can watch (most of) this number and still think our world looks better than this party. This is another song that you can never forget, with tongue-twisting lyrics that are complimented by some funny staging and caricatures.

3. "The Silly Song," Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

This song barely has any singing, so it relies instead on music and gags to make an impact. “The Silly Song” is almost itself a reason to watch Snow White again or for the first time, for watching Dopey and Sneezy pose as a six-foot-tall dancer is too priceless to miss.

4. "Pink Elephants on Parade," Dumbo (1941)

I wonder which sequence is the greater advocate for alcoholic abstinence: Pleasure Island in Pinocchio or this extreme hallucination from Dumbo. This is one of Disney’s most infamously trippy sequences, but the music is very catchy and the animation is funny while being short enough to not become overkill. Plus, this random number unwittingly contributes to the story. (In what mindset other than drunk would an elephant try to fly?)

5. "Friend Like Me," Aladdin (1992)

The Genie’s arrival is the herald for the movie’s energy blast, and this song is the cavalry. “Friend Like Me” is a freewheeling spectacle showcasing Eric Goldberg’s unrestricted animation and Robin Williams’ sporadic singing.

Just Missed the Cut: "He's a Tramp," "The Three Caballeros," "You Can Fly"


PJ said...

great choices!

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