Sometimes, a good musical soundtrack just feels more complete with a little touch of an evil musical number. Yes, time for me to highlight the bad guys again, and this time I’ll be counting down my personal favorite villain songs from either musicals or movies. For this list, I’ll be highlighting these songs in general, and not a specific version, well, with some exceptions. Weather you enjoy the villains or not, they always shine in their musical numbers, and here are my personal top 10 favorites.
#10 “March of the Winkies” (from “The Wizard of Oz”)
Kicking off my list is that classic evil guard chant, which to this day is always subconsciously playing in the back of my mind whenever I see an evil army in movies. I still have no clue what the heck these guys are even chanting, it just sounds awesome! For such a minimal song, it’s got an exciting tempo and great buildup. It’s also a rare case in which the guards actually have a stand out song as opposed to the main villain.
#9 “Secret of Survival” (from “Wind in the Willows/ Mr. Toads Wild Ride”)
I’ve only seen this movie once in my lifetime, and it was mostly forgettable. However, the villain song titled “Secret of Survival” is outstanding, and well worth addressing on my countdown. It revolves around a grope of nasty weasels who begin tormenting a pore traveler in the woods, and their song is every bit as threatening as it is thrilling. With cool angles, heavy shadows, creepy visuals, and a melody that resembles a racing heart beat, this is one lesser known villain song that disserves more attention and stands out as a small gem from a sub-par family picture.
#8 “Shiver my Timbers” (from “Muppet Treasure Island”)
Can’t say I was a really big Muppet fan growing up (I’m still not), and I didn’t even like this movie that much, yet I remember watching it often as a kid, probably because this opening song was so awesome that I just got suckered in, and couldn’t look away. Seriously, for a Muppet movie, this is a legit opening song that gets you in the mood for a high sea adventure with pirates. The backup singers are still puppets, giving it the appropriate Muppet feel, but the tone and style is different. We got these massive stone faces and skeletons adding to the visuals, coupled with a music track composed by the great Hans Zimmer, which instantly gets me hyped. The movie is average, but this opening villain song is still very memorable, and a personal favorite.
#7 “My friends” (from “Sweeney Todd”)
Honestly, I could have filled this list entirely with songs from “Sweeney Todd” as there were so many great ones to highlight, including “Pretty Woman” which is a close second favorite of mine. However, the stand out song for me is one of the earlier songs titled “My friends”. This is the moment when we really see the villain born, it’s the moment in which “his arm is complete again” and it’s the song that sets the stage for what’s to come. The melody is very simple, even relaxing, yet every lyric is dripping with menacing foreshadowing of what this monster can and ultimately will do. It’s a quiet, yet effective song that always gives me chills, and really gets things started.
#6 “The Temple” (from “Jesus Christ Superstar”)
Now here’s a really underrated villain song that probably never crosses anyone’s mind when the subject comes up, however, “Jesus Christ Superstar” was one of those big musicals I grew up with, so I know the songs inside out, and this was always a stand out song for me. At this point in the show, Jesus Christ and his disciples wander into one of his sacred temples, which has been corrupted by the most sinful of the towns inhabitants. It’s very different from other villain songs, as it doesn’t involve a “bad guy” explaining an evil plan of any sort. This song revolves around the crime and sin of humanity, detailing the dirty underbelly of those who fall from grace. The imagery is revolting, and the musical tempo is very lively as is just builds and builds with every second. It’s about as sinful as villain songs get, and once that music starts in the beginning, I can never get the beat out of my head.
#5 “Stars” (from “Les Miserables”)
This is a very different kind of villain song, in fact, if you listened to this on its own, you probably wouldn’t even think of it as the bad guy’s song. In the classic Broadway musical “Les Miserables”, the ever determined Inspector Javert seeks out the shows lead hero, who’s branded a fugitive, and running from the law. This song highlights his passion to hunt down his enemy, even if he has to keep up the chase for the rest of his life. Inspector Javert has always stood out as one of the classiest musical villains to me, as he’s just a loyal man sworn to his duty, but it’s his unbroken pride and hatred for our hero’s that still make him the quote “Bad Guy”, and his song is a powerhouse number, filled with passion, intimidation, buildup, and it all closes on one heck of a high note.
#4 “In the Dark of the Night” (from “Anastasia”)
Well, it was about time I had a villain song from an animated movie on my countdown, isn’t it. I still remember the first time seeing this movie in the theater, way back when I was just a little kid, and I immediately declared “In the Dark of the Night” as my favorite villain song I ever heard. To this day, it still holds up as one of the most unforgettable numbers I’ve ever seen. It strikes a perfect balance between being lively and upbeat, but it’s also threatening and dark. Plus, the overall rock theme is so catchy it’s almost impossible to get out of your head. The visual style is engrossing, the villain himself is a lot of fun to watch, and the lyrics ... well, are silly, but they mostly work and are easy to follow. I think the majority of villain songs from animated films (with the exception of Disney) are pretty mediocre, but this is one exception where it really belongs among the greats.
#3 “He had it Coming” (from “Chicago”)
Oh hell yeah, I know most fans of “Chicago” would say that “All that Jazz” is the best song, but for me, it’s this awesome villain number titled “He had it Coming”. At this stage of the musical, our female lead is spending her first night in a woman’s prison, and finds herself surrounded by some bad ladies who all share their back stories in this powerhouse dance number. It’s a great concept, and the individual stories could have been the center of their own films. More than anything, I just love how this whole scene was shot and put together. The dance choreography is great, the set design is visually awesome, the lighting is stylish, and even the edits are perfectly synchronized with the dance moves. Most of my favorite villain songs can at least stand as highlights, but this song really is “THE HIGHLIGHT” of the musical.
#2 “The Phantom of the Opera Theme Song” (from “The Phantom of the Opera”)
It’s one of Broadways most classic musicals, featuring one of the most iconic musical villains of all time, and his theme song is nothing short of sensational. It’s actually become one of my favorite songs to listen to around Halloween, it’s just so gothic and mystiques, yet it’s also very lively and epic in its own way. The lyrics are memorable, the sets and visuals are captivating and personally, I always remember this as the great classic musical villain theme song.
Before I reveal my #1 pick, here are some Honorable Mentions ...
“You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch” (from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”)
Be a Dentist (from “Little Shop of Horrors”)
“Come Little Children” (from “Hocus Pocus”)
“Playing with the Big Boys Now” (from “The Prince of Egypt”)
“I’m Just a Sweet Transvestite” (from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”)
#1 Every Classic Disney Villain song ever! (from Various Disney Movies)
Yeah, I couldn’t pick one single favorite, and I couldn’t crowd this list with them either. Seriously though, what’s the first thing that instantly comes to mind when you hear the faze “Villain Song”. For me, it’ll always be the classic animated villain songs that always come to mind first. We all know their titles, we remember the lyrics, and they helped breathe life into some of our favorite child hood villains. I think “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, “Be Prepared” and “The Cruella Deville Song” are their most iconic, but even their more obscure songs “Friends on the Other Side” and “Gaston’s Song” are still really memorable. My two personal favorite Disney villain songs are “Savages” from “Pocahontas” and “Hellfire” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Both were far darker, more serious in tone, and had some hauntingly arresting visuals. In the long run, its Disney’s collection of classic animated villain songs that have always felt the most timeless, and the most awesome!