Women, men & minorities in geek culture and pop culture
The main reason that I love “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame so much is because it approaches a subject matter that isn’t child-friendly: a man who is lusting over a woman. In the song, Judge Claude Frollo talks about his growing desire to have Esmeralda while at the same time condemning her. I also love the images that are happening as the song goes on: Frollo imagining Esmeralda dancing in his fireplace, the hooded figures surrounding Frollo, and shadows of Frollo’s soldiers captures Frollo’s mind slowly descending into madness.
My favorite Disney villain song is Tangled’s “Mother Knows Best.” There is such a fine line between a mother worrying for her daughter and what Mother Gothel is doing to Rapunzel. She wants to stop her from going outside and being found by her parents and the kingdom, and the way she goes about this is by disguising her fear with worry for her safety. She starts by mentioning things Rapunzel will encounter such as villains and the plague and then moves on to being more outspoken about how Rapunzel cannot take care of herself. I like this song because it shows Mother Gothel’s ill-intentions but tries to play it, at least in the beginning, as a lighthearted show of worry.
I’ve found that the villains are often rather intelligent in their songs (except Gaston, but really, he’s probably the stupidest of the Disney villains). “Be Prepared” is my favorite because, first and foremost, The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie. Second, Scar is one of the best villains because of his cutthroat nature and seeming lack of loyalty to anyone but himself. He’s a fascinating character in that regard. So let’s break down this song. First, dramatic entrance. Scar leaps down to converse with the hyenas to set them straight and instruct them on their path of helping him achieve greatness. He’s got this multi-tiered leap and then he stalks through these steam vent things that create a really bad-ass entrance. Second, the entire song looks like it takes place in the Slytherin Common Room. Scar is ambitions, clever, and manipulative. I’m sure Sally would have loved him. Third, he uses a wide vocabulary to reinforce his position as a commanding force. Fourth, he’s actually a rather charismatic cult leader that organizes the hyenas into marching formations during his song. It’s one of the creepiest parts of the song, but it’s so incredibly effective. And finally, “Be Prepared” is very dark in tone and really menacing.
So prepare for the coup of the century
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
Decades of denial
Is simply why I’ll
Be king undisputed
And seen for the wonder I am
Yes, my teeth and ambitions are bared
Seriously gets me every single time. Brilliant. I love it.
Ursula creates a brilliant sales pitch in The Little Mermaid‘s Poor Unfortunate Souls. She creates an unbeatable offer, shows a few success stories, and is frank about the terms of service. Ariel must pay in her voice, something Ursula convinces her she won’t need on land. She tells Ariel the less a woman speaks, the more attractive she is to a man. Ursula builds herself up to be a savior for those in need, which she is in some cases. The other reason this scene stays with me is the display of Ursula’s power over all of the creatures she has transformed. They cower beneath her, all of which were once wish-requestors. Ursula has been making deals for quite some time. She doesn’t lie about what she is offering and what she expects. Those who get involved with her are fully aware of the repercussions.
For years, my favorite villain song has been “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast. At first, it seems like a silly egocentric song about a silly egocentric character – but then you realize that by making an entire song involving the celebration of Gaston’s hypermasculinity, the creators of Beauty and the Beast went opposite of certain other creators to show that not only is hypermasculinity not great, it’s the thing that makes a character very dark and sinister, indeed.
Tell us about your favorite Disney villain songs. Which villain is your favorite? Why?