14. The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind: The Great Mouse Detective
Vincent Price gets to ham it up as the evil Professor Ratigan. Besides getting bonus points by simply
featuring Price’s delicious voice, this song features all the great villain tropes: Monologue about an evil plan, killing his own henchmen, and bragging about being the most evil ra…. mouse around. Plus, I’ll say it again in case you missed it: Vincent Price.
13. Still Alive: Portal
Okay, this song is clearly not overlooked or underappreciated. The song that launched a million nerd
memes has been played everywhere. But, Jonathan Coulton’s masterpiece isn’t usually listed as a villain song, and that’s a shame because it is absolutely a villain song. GLaDOS sings with as much glee as a computer can about experimenting on people until they die. Ellen McClain got to show her opera chops with Cara Mia Addio at the end of Portal 2, but you can still hear the talent she brings to the role in this one.
Hey, I made it through this entry without any cake jokes. Good for me.
12. Let’s Talk About Me: The Muppets
Like all good Muppet songs, this one is full of puns and wordplay. But more importantly, you get to hear Chris Cooper rap. Tex Richman is the classic 80s villain (rich businessman trying to buy the old theater our stars used to perform in) as long as you look past the fact that the movie came out in 2011. Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords fame) was a writer on this song and it shows; there’s a ton of Conchords style humor in there.
11. Magic Dance: Labyrinth
You can’t have a list of villain songs without at least one from Jareth the Goblin King. I was tempted to go with As The World Falls Down or Within You, but Magic Dance is too fun of a song not to make the list. There are not a lot of performers out there that can perform surrounded by Muppets and still be the most flamboyant and magical person in the room, but Bowie is easily a member of that short list.
(There’s one more on this list… coming next!)
10. Professional Pirate: Muppet Treasure Island
We’ve made it to the top 10! While I love every song on this list, these songs on the top 10 are all songs I could listen to every single day and never tire of them. At number ten comes our third Muppet film in a row and the second Tim Curry performance on the list.
When people talk about their favorite Muppet film, Treasure Island rarely makes the list and I’ll never understand why. It’s a great movie and has some of the best songs in any Muppet feature.
This song is about Long John trying to explain that these pirates aren’t really bad guys. It’s just a job and really, isn’t it all just point of view? Truly the best company a man could keep!
9. Mean Green Mother From Outer Space: Little Shop of Horrors
Now we move away from Muppets to… a film directed by Frank Oz. Huh. Well, I have a specific taste,
that’s for sure. I’m a big fan of villain songs where the villain has a deep, menacing baritone voice and few do that better than Levi Stubbs as Audrey II. The song has the alien plant monster singing about how much the hero (Seymour) is in over his head and he’s not wrong. In the original ending based on the ending to the off-Broadway show, Audrey and Seymour both die while Audrey II takes over the world. That’s a successful villain. In the theatrical ending, Audrey II is defeated, but that original darkness is still evident throughout the film.
I was very tempted to go with Dentist, another villain song from the same film that I adore, but Mean
Green Mother From Outer Space is such a show stopping kind of number it felt wrong not to have it on
8. It’s a B-Movie: The Brave Little Toaster
This movie messed me up as a kid and I’m sure I’m not alone. How can a film about a smiling toaster be so darn dark? And yet, it’s a great movie but an overlooked one.
This song is a tricky one to include because the appliances in the shop aren’t really villains. Elmo St. Peters is, but he’s not REALLY a villain either since he doesn’t know the appliances are alive. He’s just a dude doing his job. But, the song the broken appliances sing is spooky as hell and, as far as our heroes knew, they were the villains. Cutting Edge is probably more accurately labeled a villain song, but it’s my list and I’m the boss.
Oh and hey, it’s Thurl Ravenscroft’s second appearance on the list. The man had an amazing voice and
an even better name.
7. Brand New Day: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Speaking of second appearances on the list, here’s Neil Patrick Harris again!
This is another one of those songs that I really had to debate over. Dr. Horrible is definitely a villain; dude’s primary ambition is to join the Evil League of Evil. And yet the superhero Captain Hammer is the real villain of the story. So I was tempted to go with Hammer’s big number Everyone’s A Hero as my selection. But, Brand New Day has all the hallmarks of a traditional villain song and, while Dr Horrible is our protagonist and good hearted at that, the man’s clearly a villain. In the end, I looked at this lyric and said, yeah, that’s a villain song:
“It’s a brand new day
Yeah the sun is high.
All the angels sing
Because you’re gonna die”
6. Shiny: Moana
We had Bret McKenzie, time for his Flight of the Conchords partner Jemaine Clement.
This song is a tribute to David Bowie and Clement absolutely nails it. This is one of two songs from the Moana soundtrack that I have on repeat (the other being You’re Welcome).
Lindsay Ellis (formerly the Nostalgia Chick) had a great video recently about the recent lack of Disney villain songs and she has a point. Outside of Mother Knows Best from Tangled, there really hadn’t been one in a while. But Shiny is a stunning return to form and I love it.
5. Toxic Love: FernGully
And here’s our third appearance of Tim Curry. And despite already being on the list with Sweet
Transvestite, this song from the kid’s movie FernGully is by far the most overtly sexual.
Hexxus makes sweet love to the pollution generating construction equipment. Seriously, could anyone
besides Tim Curry make pollution and deforestation sound so damn sexy?
Ooh, fun trivia! This song was written by Thomas Dolby, better known as the singer behind She Blinded
Me with Science.
4. Where There’s a Whip. There’s a Way: Return of the King
This is from the Rankin Bass animated feature, by the way. Just in case any of you were wondering how
you missed a disco-esque villain song in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies.
It’s an interesting song because it makes the orcs actually pretty sympathetic. They don’t want to go to war today, but they have to. Because of the whip. But, despite their lack of overt evil desire, they’re still the baddies so this marching song counts as a villain song.
Also, who knew that orcs were such good singers?
3. Washington On Your Side: Hamilton
We’re at the top three! And, well… is Hamilton overlooked or underappreciated? I don’t know if you
can call any show that requires you to buy tickets a year in advance overlooked, but I would say more
people haven’t seen it than have so I’m going to allow it. (The judge always seems to side with me on
I was really torn between a few songs for this selection. King George’s Beatles tribute “You’ll Be Back” is great and probably the most traditional villain song in the musical. “The Room Where it Happens” has a killer banjo part and is the song that marks the turning point of Aaron Burr towards a path that will eventually end with him killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel (SPOILERS).
But, for my money, Washington On Your Side takes its place as the top villain song of the show.
Jefferson, Madison, and Burr aren’t what you’d consider traditional villains, but they are the antagonists of the show and this song has them plotting to bring down Hamilton. It also has Daveed Diggs spitting absolute fire in a breathless verse that’s one of my favorites in the entire musical.
2. We Are Number One: Lazy Town
I was tempted to make this song number one by sole virtue of the name, but alas, Robbie Rotten will
never truly be number one.
This song, from the incredibly weird but lovable Icelandic kids show Lazy Town is catchy as hell and so much fun. Robbie Rotten is trying to teach his team how to be supervillains. The song and video ended up gaining popularity as an internet meme and it’s a favorite subject of parodies or video edits. And that popularity is for good reason; it’s one of the catchiest songs you’ll hear.
On an incredibly sad note, in June it was announced that Robbie Rotten’s actor Stefan Karl Stefansson is in the last stages of bile duct cancer. You can donate to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at https://www.pancan.org/
1. Hellfire: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
So here’s the thing… this song doesn’t really fit any of my previous criteria. It’s not fun or bragging. In fact, it’s dark and menacing and a terrifying peek into the mind of a man that blames a woman for his own feelings of lust and desire.
But it’s so good you guys. Tony Jay has a voice made for villains (he played Megabyte in ReBoot!) and
can sing with the best of them. The music is haunting and powerful. Menken and Schwartz are two of
the best songwriters in the business and this is them at their very best.