The Top 5 Best Disney Villain Songs

Like most American children, Disney’s animated musicals were an essential part of my life growing up. I’m not sure how many times I watched movies like Aladdin, The Lion King, or The Little Mermaid although I’m sure my parents would say it was too many. Having revisited many of these movies as an adult I can say I still enjoy them just as much as I did when I was a kid, but now I find the villains in these stories to be the more compelling characters. Most Disney villains are clearly motivated by some sort of major character flaw like greed, arrogance, or selfishness, and they often express that flaw through a catchy musical number. Some of these songs are better than others though, but luckily I’m here to tell you which ones are the best! Below you’ll see my definitive ranking of the five best Disney villain songs.

#5 – “Savages” from Pocahontas

ratcliffe

Pocahontas really has two villain songs. “Mine, Mine, Mine” comes much earlier in the film and it clearly illustrates the evil greed of Governor Ratcliffe, but “Savages” is just a better song with stunning animation. Of course, the depiction of Native Americans in Pocahontas is problematic throughout the film and that includes this song, but there are still positive messages that can be gleaned from this powerful musical number. Although the characters say that their opponent cannot be trusted due to their differences, the lyrics each side sings are nearly the same, showing that they aren’t really so different after all. The animation exemplifies this in its own way as well, with the firelight making the Englishmen’s faces appear red, and the moonlight casting a paler glow on the faces of the Natives. To be sure this is a far from perfect representation of Native Americans and their struggles when America was colonized, but the song still holds a certain power.

#4 – “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast

Like Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast (1991) sort of has two villain songs. “The Mob Song,” which comes later in the movie when Gaston encourages the town to form a mob to “kill the beast,” sounds much more villainous than the one I’ve chosen for this list, but “Gaston” is just simply the better song. It reveals much more about Gaston’s character than “The Mob Song” too. I mean it’s an entire song about how great he is. Most Disney villains tend to focus on their own insecurities, but Gaston’s fatal flaw is that he loves himself too much.

Another reason I love this song so much:

gay gaston

The epitome of manliness

#3 – “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid

ursula

Ursula is my favorite Disney villain of all time. She’s a badass sea witch with strong powers and she callously manipulates people by preying on their weaknesses and using their own strengths against them. So what’s not to love? Ursula is pretty much a typical cold-hearted businessperson. She makes a clear agreement with Ariel, although it certainly isn’t an ethical arrangement. Ursula is always looking out for number one, so she’s sure to concoct a deal that pretty much guarantees she’ll get what she wants. Ursula is really one of the more honest Disney villain. She makes it clear that she’s been called a witch and the song tells us what will happen to Ariel if she can’t complete her side of the deal. That appearance of honest is partly why it’s not a surprise that Ariel falls for it and signs away her voice for a chance at living with legs on land.

#2 – “Be Prepared” from The Lion King

be prepared

Another greedy power hungry villain makes the list. This song shows Scar’s desperate need for power as he builds up his hyena army. However, it also hints at how terrible of a leader he will become. Scar leads through fear, which may work for now, but it doesn’t make for very happy subjects and as we all know that will be his downfall later. Once again color plays an important role in this song. Scar is surrounded by shades of green that emphasize his greed and hunger for power, then as his passion and anger rises the screen turns red and bursts of fire appear around him. This song is honestly when Scar is at his most powerful, and it’s one of the most classic Disney villain songs in that the characters actually proclaim that they are baring their ambitions.

#1 – “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

hellfire

Are you surprised to see this as number one? This is not a fun song. In fact, I find it downright terrifying. Frollo is perhaps one of the most human Disney villains, and I mean that in more ways than he’s literally a human. His song shows his evilness as he attempts to use his religion as justification to control and murder another person. He blames Esmeralda for his sin and prays for control over her. The fire imagery and the strange red hooded figures are terrifying and Frollo’s anger and lust come across clearly through these images and the lyrics. It’s hard to believe that this is a song in a children’s movie. In fact it’s hard to believe that Disney would’ve even made a children’s movie out of Victor Hugo’s tale, but it’s not the only questionable children’s movie Disney has released. But that’s a blog post for another time.

What do you think of my list? Did I forget something? Do you hate all of these songs? Yell at me about it in the comments, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong!

 

10 comments

  1. Chelsea · May 8

    Hm, I’ll bite! :p

    While the animation in “Savages” is indeed powerful and Schwartz did some amazing work for that movie (it may be its most redeeming factor, actually) the equalizing of the white settler’s hatred and the natives’ justified distrust is really unsettling for me.

    I was also going to be offended that Poor Unfortunate Souls was not #1 (although if we’re going by catchiness I’d rank it as such) – but yeah, hard to pass on Hellfire. That’s the only imagery from Hunchback I remembered until I saw it again in high school. That movie is so incredible but definitely not great for young kids! Which reminds me, when did we start rating basically all kids movies as PG? Because that wasn’t always a thing. Hunchback was rated G and it probably shouldn’t have been. Frozen and Zootopia and I think Moana were all PG and probably didn’t need to be, imo.

    (Also, what’d you think of the villain song in Princess & the Frog? That’s the only song I liked from that movie tbh)

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    • Thanks for your comment, Chelsea! I don’t disagree with your point about “Savages.” It’s totally a very problematic song. And it could easily lose its spot on this list as I revisit more films from my childhood.

      I had to put Hellfire as number 1, simply because it’s just the evilest of all the Disney villain songs. Like it’s so evil, it’s not even catchy.

      “Be Prepared” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” could switch places on this list and I would still approve. There’s just something more menacing about “Be Prepared.” (Maybe it’s the Nazi imagery. Yup. It’s definitely that.)

      I love your question about ratings for kids movie. I didn’t realize Frozen or Moana were rated PG. Zootopia makes a little bit more sense. I might do a post in the future about kid’s movies that have no business calling themselves children’s movies. Hunchback and Zootopia would both be on that list.

      I actually haven’t seen Princess & the Frog. I know, I know, I need to. I did listen to the song when I was putting this list together and it was a good one but since I haven’t seen the whole movie it didn’t seem far to try and talk about the song.

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      • Chelsea · May 9

        “Like it’s so evil, it’s not even catchy.” – haha, that is perfect!

        I think the difference for me with Zootopia & Hunchback is that Zootopia can still be enjoyed by kids on a surface level in a way that I don’t think they can with Hunchback. Zootopia deals with a lot of very serious and in some cases intense material, it still strikes me as a family-friendly movie that can be enjoyed and understood on many levels. Honestly if you take away the gargoyles from Hunchback (and God, I wish they could retroactively do so), it is clearly not a movie intended for kids. That isn’t to say they shouldn’t be allowed to see it, I just don’t think there’s as much consideration for them/outward appeal to them that Zootopia offers.

        Princess & the Frog has a lot to offer, imo. It has its problems for sure (in terms of sociological interpretations but also, more basically, from a story structure standpoint its all very convoluted) – but that characters and that song are great!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mphadventuregirl · May 9

    I am not a big fan of villains. But I do love the song “Gaston”. I may have grown up with Beauty and the Beast, but I had to rediscover the musical. I did forget I loved the movie, but the new movie brought that love of mine back. I cannot think of a single musical villain or antagonist that I like as a character, but they can still be well-developed

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    • Thanks for the comment! I think Gaston is such a fun character. He’s much less evil than most Disney villains, and in a musical filled with so many great songs his is still one of the best.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mphadventuregirl · May 9

        It can be hard to love the villains and antagonists because you are following the plot of the main character. Those two kinds of characters add conflict to the main character’s journey and others as well. But conflict is important to musicals or else it would feel like there is no plot

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  3. Debbie · May 9

    I’m just here to say I love reading your blogs!! So keep them coming!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jsebastian · May 9

    Great list, ‘Be Prepared’ will always be my favorite! Sorry for being forward, but do you ever share your work on any film sites? I’m a content manager here at moviepilot.com and if you’re interested, we would love to share some of your work such as this with our audiences!

    Liked by 1 person

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