Whether it is an animated movie or a musical adaptation, we have to admit that villain songs are essential. In recent years it seems that Disney or new musical movies have forgotten how crucial the villainy motif is, with favourites such as Frozen and The Greatest Showman forgoing them altogether.
Still, if you ask anyone, they will tell you that villain songs are often the best in the entire film. But what are the best?
Happily, we’ve plunged into the dark heart of musical numbers from the world of film. Mwahahaha.
Honourable Mentions: My Lullaby from The Lion King 2, Prince Ali (Reprise) from Aladdin, Gaston (Reprise) from Beauty and the Beast, and Plagues from The Prince of Egypt
There are spoilers here!
35) Bad Guys – Bugsy Malone
Why not kick off this article with a number specifically about being a bad guy? Bugsy Malone, a movie which sees children play at prohibition mobsters, is a film rife with addictive tunes. But, this jaunty number (and epically danced piece) sees Fat Sam’s henchmen sing throughout the city streets about how they could’ve been anything that they wanted to be, but why not be bad guys? The melody is also used later on in You Give a Little Love!
34) My Lullaby – The Lion King 2
Following from Scar in the previous film, it just wouldn’t be a Lion King movie without a villain number. For those who do not know the direct-to-video sequel (and how dare you, it’s fantastic) it is a feline re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet. My Lullaby is sung by Zira (Suzanne Plushette,) and it is a wretched tune about how sweet it would be to fall asleep to the sounds of King Simba dying. As Zira uses the song to manipulate her son Kovu towards villainy, it is a pounding and unforgettable number.
33) You Are The Music In Me – High School Musical 2
Sharpay Evans is one of those great villains in a franchise that just forgets they learned a lesson in the previous films to go back to their devious ways. Still, anything Sharpay sings is ultimately iconic, including lauding her lavish lifestyle in the brilliant Fabulous -that almost made the cut here. However, it is her reimagining of Troy and Gabriella’s You Are the Music in Me that proves much dastardlier as Sharpay tries to lure Tory into her trap. It’s also so brilliantly catchy that you’ll wonder why Troy settled for Gabriella in the first place.
32) What’s My Name? – The Descendants 2
This Disney Original Movie series has become increasingly popular over the course of the franchise. It tells the story of the children of popular Disney villains including Maleficent and the Queen from Snow White, with songs such as Rotten to the Core and Evil Like Me proving to be great tracks that many could bop to. In the sequel, Ursula’s daughter Uma sings a song about her ploy to rise up and take the world back for evil. This hip-hop synth heavy number is too brilliant to ignore, especially when it comes to the chorus breakdown. Watch out for the indistinguishable accent of the pirate rap.
31) I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu) – Muppets Most Wanted
Kermit’s doppelganger Constantine is a tricky criminal mastermind. Using our felt friends as a front to commit heists, Constantine is a pitiless character who has not one, but two villain songs. It is tempting to feature You’re Number Two, a duet with Rickey Gervais, there is something truly magnificent about Constantine’s song to Miss Piggy. Trying to convince the lovelorn pig that he is Kermit and wishes to woo her with romance, this number is not only a wonderful love-song, but a groovy piece from the green-faced villain.
30) The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind (Ratigan) – The Great Mouse Detective
Villain songs are generally either about the plan they have concocted or some seduction of the hero. Ratigan’s, though, is about himself and how ruthless he is. Heck, he even kills someone half-way through the number. This underrated animated gem from the 80s is a fantastic homage to Sherlock Holmes. And hey, who hasn’t wanted Moriarty to breakdown his villainy in an absolute belter of a song whilst his minions chime around him. Voiced by Vincent Price, this devious number is a hoot
29) El Tango de Roxanne – Moulin Rouge!
OK. I know what you are going say. The Duke, aka the rich prick of the whole movie, has, technically, his own song as he prances around the room with Ziddler wailing Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Also, El Tango de Roxanne is mostly sung by the heroes Christian and The Narcoleptic Argentinian. This is all true but there is a vicious nature to the song from all-sides: Christian’s jealousy, and the fictional story of Roxanne as a warning to why Christian’s love will never last. Yet the song turns and suddenly, in the middle of an assault, The Duke is singing the words to an anguished Satine desperate to escape his grasp – this vicious twist simply adds to the brilliant number’s villainy. (TW: The video shows sexual assault.)
28) The Hell of It – Phantom of the Paradise
There is no denying that Paul Williams is a genius. In Brian De Palma’s cult musical, he proves these words by writing all the tunes and singing most of them. He also plays the main antagonist and record producer Swan who is caught in a Faustian type deal. Whilst, yes, this song doesn’t technically feature in the film, The Hell of It is a bop featured at the end of the film. With lyrics about being glad someone is dead, you are never entirely sure whether it’s Winslow, our pained, damaged hero, or the evil Swan that’s being sun about, and that ambiguity is genius in itself.
27) Macavity The Mystery Cat – Cats!
Look, Cats is bad. We can universally agree that Cats is a terrible, terrible movie with bizarre CGI and directorial choices. It also made the whole weird stage show truly boring, with the first half of numbers dreadfully and tediously sing. Luckily, we still have Macavity. Sung by Taylor Swift, it’s is a femme fatale-like tune about how vicious and cruel the main villain is. With Macavity actor Idris Elba jumping in at the end to croon out his number (with a shocking velour fur design,) it still proves that despite the final result of the film, there are some parts that can brilliantly survive the transfer to the big screen.
26) The Cell Block Tango – Chicago
With the exception of the long-suffering husband Amos Hart and Katalin, the innocent Hungarian, most of the characters in Chicago are shady as fuck. This means that most of the numbers are pretty much villain songs as they claw desperately for fame and notoriety. Arguably Billy Flynn is the main villain here but this delicious tango in which the murderesses sing about their crimes is the most unforgettable. As they muse over their plight and reasons for killing, this fiendish number has been parodied over and over again.
25) A Professional Pirate – The Muppets Treasure Island
This is not the only Tim Curry number that features on this playlist, kind of proving that he is the master of the villain songs. Speaking about the brotherhood of being a pirate and how Blackbeard had always wanted to be one, this movie is a hilarious delight. As it is Blackbeard’s only number, there are plenty of jokes in the lyrics such as how pirates have more heart that lawyers, and on top of that there’s even a mean Marlon Brando impression. Tim Curry showcases his amazing skill of being the best thing in a movie whilst still being melodiously menacing.
24) I Need A Hero – Shrek 2
Occasionally we have to include some cover songs into the mix, especially if they’re so epically sung by our main antagonist. Who are we to leave off the Fairy Godmother’s version of a Bonnie Tyler number? Voiced by the extraordinary Jennifer Saunders, this song raucously narrates the climatic action whilst Shrek is trying to stop Fiona from being manipulated by the Fairy Godmother and her foppish son Prince Charming. A toe-stopping number, this is a must for any list about villain songs.
23) The Phantom of the Opera – The Phantom of the Opera
Technically, this tragic villain (no, yes, he is one,) has a whole harem of numbers including the light and airy The Music of the Night, the sexual Past the Point of No Return, and the climatic fight sequence Down Once More. However, the titular number from the music is perhaps the best. With Gerard Butler (no, yes, that’s him,) as the Phantom, alongside his musical protégé and love Christine (the brilliant Emmy Rossum,) you can’t help but love a number about how mysterious and magnetic our eponymous Phantom is.
22) The Last Midnight – Into the Woods
Stephen Sondheim has had many of his musicals brought to life on the screen and similarly to a number of them, they are full of terribly dark characters. In Into the Woods, it is filled with largely fairy-tale characters who wind up doing dark things. All except Meryl Streep’s Witch. She’s bad from the beginning and bad at the end. However, she is always right. While you may not agree with how she perceives the world, she never fails to see how gruesome and dark it is. This culminates in a badass finale number in which she chides the protagonists at how their niceness and their need to blame someone else will be their ultimate downfall.
21) You’re A Mean One, Mr Grinch – The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Thurl Ravenscroft has two things: The best name to have ever existed, and an enthralling voice. He’s the singer of the original version of this crooning number, which first featured on the 1966 cartoon special. It describes how horrid our green offender is and sings of the Grinch’s loathing of everything festive -plus, it is a romp of a song. The original piece does not feature on a film but it has been covered by Jim Carrey and more in every adaption, which is why it sits greatly on this list.
Check back for Part 2!