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!

 

We’re Not Living in The Handmaid’s Tale…Yet.

What a chilling tale. I can’t think of a single recent dystopian story that has affected me as much as The Handmaid’s Tale, which is simply because this dystopian nightmare is specifically a woman’s dystopian nightmare. The story follows June, a woman who once worked in book publishing, but after a series of destabilizing world events, including a sharp decline in fertility, is now enslaved by an overbearing religious fundamentalist government. Stripped of all autonomy and given a new name, Offred becomes a handmaid and is forced to breed with her commander.

ceremony

Unlike many of you who read the book by Margaret Atwood, I only had the most basic understanding of the story before I started to watch the first episode on Wednesday night. What unfolded before me is truly one of the most horrifying tales that I could imagine. Women forced into sexual slavery while they can still remember a world where they had freedom. Unsure of who they can trust, who is a part of the resistance or who is spy looking to catch women who aren’t following the rules of the new societal order. The world of The Handmaid’s Tale is one where women have no power, no agency, and no say in what happens to their bodies. They are valued for one thing and one thing alone: their ability to bear children. This is so horrifying to me because I know that women are powerful, smart and capable of so much more than just our biological ability to give birth.

offred

This week I’ve seen article after article screaming in their headlines that we are already living in the nightmare world of The Handmaid’s Tale, and after watching the first three episodes I find it alarming that people really think we’re close to living such a nightmare. Originally, I thought there is absolutely no way, the world in The Handmaid’s Tale could become our real world. I mean, enslaving an entire gender? That’s impossible. But then my little positivity bubble burst when I thought about it for five more seconds and remembered that people in this world had already committed atrocities as terrible as those in The Handmaid’s Tale. Slavery of an entire race existed in the United States and countless atrocities were committed against millions of people during the Holocaust. Not to mention the various genocides carried out all over the world. I can’t even list them all here because there are too many to count and I’m sure there are some I’ve yet to learn about.

ofglen

My point is, I originally thought the world in The Handmaid’s Tale was a dystopian fiction but really it’s a dystopian alternative reality. As I watched the second and third episode and saw more of the events that led to the new world order, it became easier to see how our real world could devolve into such a terrifying nightmare. It doesn’t help that the show’s creators have updated the tale to touch on today’s current events, including showing protests that turned deadly and violent.

I don’t truly think that we are on our way to living in the dystopian nightmare world of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I can see how under the right circumstances we could end up there. Let’s take Margaret Atwood’s story as a warning, and use it to remind us that women are powerful, amazing creatures deserving of respect and autonomy. In fact, let’s just treat every person we meet with that in mind.

Sarah Recommends a Book!

Originally, I planned to write about my favorite feminist TV shows this week, but that changed after I picked up a comic book at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books today.

lady killer cover

Obviously, the cover immediately piqued my interest. I mean, how could it not? A 1950’s housewife mopping up blood in her pink dress and pearls? I had to know the rest of that story. I’ve only read a handful of comic books in my life, but this one is definitely going to be a new favorite.

I love stories about violent women. That’s probably because I like stories that subvert expectations, and as we all know women are not supposed to be violent. Violence is not only expected of men but often encouraged. (Did another guy insult your manhood? Well, you better punch him in the face to prove him wrong!) Of course, in real life I’m very happy that women aren’t violent beings, but it’s refreshing to see stories where women take on nontraditional roles.

In Lady Killer, Josie Schuller is a 1950’s housewife and a covert assassin. Her husband and two young daughters suspect nothing about her secret life. Her mother-in-law is a bit more suspicious. The conflict begins in Lady Killer when Josie’s boss thinks she’s become too much of a threat due to her commitment to her family over her job.

The trouble of balancing family and career is a frequent problem in real women’s lives, although not usually with life or death stakes. Josie clearly enjoys her violent work, or else she would’ve gotten out of the game a long time ago. She also cares deeply about her family, and she does her best to keep her work separate. Although, her daughters do accompany her as she stalks a fellow operative. Don’t worry though, Josie gets them to ballet class right after she gets her information.

However, the question of balancing work and family is a bit more complicated for Josie, considering she is literally a murderer. The boss who puts the hit out on her has a valid point when he says her kids might be better off as orphans than be raised by a murderous mom. It takes a certain kind of person to kill people for money and I’m not sure if that kind of person would make the best mother.

The stark juxtaposition of the classic 1950’s housewife look with the violent and bloody images of Josie’s assassinations is what really stands out in this book though. The artwork highlights this on every page.

darn it

Some club soda will get that right out!

arsenic ad

A mock ad starring Josie

dead guy trunk

stabby stab stab

Avon calling!

It’s easy to imagine this graphic novel on the big screen, and then Josie can join the ranks of all the violent silver screen stars that came before her.

I really enjoyed this book, and if you’re into stories about violent women who wear pretty dresses I think you’ll like it too.

Welcome to my Pop Culture Diary!

So I’m doing this. I’m really going to add another blog to the already congested Internet blogosphere. Another voice shouting into the abyss. I know that no one but my mom will read this and I’m ok with that. (Hi Mom!) I just need a place to publicly collect my thoughts on all things pop culture.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sarah, there are far too many stupid blogs that report and comment on pop culture. You don’t need to create another one.” You’re totally right, random Facebook friend of my mom, but I also want to create and control and work on something that is just my own. So here we are. You can read this blog if you want to or you can ignore it, but I hope that you’ll like what I have to say.

I’ve been obsessed with pop culture for most of my life. I’m not sure exactly what started this. I spent a lot of time by myself growing up. I read books all of the time and when I wasn’t reading I watched movies and television. As I got older I must have realized that there were other people creating these stories that I loved so much, and so I began to learn their names. No one in my hometown really shared this obsession with me, and I thought it was impractical to consider a future in that world. Now that I’m older I keep trying to turn this passion into a job somehow. (It hasn’t been easy.) That’s the real reason I’m writing this now. To share what I’m passionate about with other people. And I’m passionate about a bunch of dumb stuff.

Here’s a short list of things that I have strong opinions about:

  1. Dolly Parton
  2. Bottle episodes of TV shows
  3. Cross-dressing movies
  4. Stephen King adaptations
  5. Musicals
  6. True crime documentaries

This list could go on forever, and it will in the form of this blog. So if you’d like to know my thoughts on subjects such as these, meet me here every Sunday night for a new post with all my pop culture updates. It should be fun!