Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Top Twelve Villain Showtunes

This is another blog requested on my page (remember, if you have something you want me to blog about, submit it there and I'll get to it eventually!). I'm glad I finally get to do this one, I've been sorting through it for awhile:

What are your top ten villain songs from movies/musicals?

This is tough. Even if it was just "top villain songs from Disney movies/musicals," it'd be tough. Because musicals are just awesome at creating awesome songs for their bad guys -- funny, scary, sad, and everything in between.

Looking through my list of musicals, I managed to find 44 villain songs I really enjoy, and managed to whittle that down, eventually to 12... and then I absolutely could not pick two of those twelve to throw out. So I'm cheating and allowing myself two extra songs.

In alphabetical order of song name are my picks and why:

"Be Prepared" (The Lion King)

I wrote about my love for this song back in September of last year on my blog post about great Disney song sung by male characters. I haven't actually see the stage production, but it's really hard to imagine it could be better than this. The tremendous animation REALLY enforces the ominous tone of the song, which is spectacular all by itself. I honestly think this song might be like 60% of the reason I like The Lion King so much. Definitely one of my all-time favorites.

"Cell Block Tango" (Chicago)

Like the rest of this show, this is a combination of dark and funny. When the characters are telling their stories, there's definitely a very morbid sense of humor running throughout, but every time they return to the explosion of rage in the chorus, it gives me chills. Such a simple song, but so intense.

"Dentist!" (Little Shop of Horrors)

Oh, man, narrowing down a song from this show was so difficult. I was stuck for quite a long time between this, "Feed Me" and "Suppertime," all of which are tremendous... but in the end I went with this. I really like songs that mix cheerful and dark elements, and this fits the bill perfectly. The dentist seems so happy about having found a career that lets him just hurt people all the time. (My poor sister Elizabeth watched this movie the night before she had her wisdom teeth taken out -- that may not have been the best choice!)

"Do the Necronomicon" (The Evil Dead: The Musical)

I got a chance to see this show live this October, and it was one of the most fun theatrical experiences I've ever had. In this song, the main characters have just summoned a horde of demons... who appear and instantly do a choreographed dance to honor the Necronomicon (despite the fact that most of them are annoyed they can't start killing people until they finish the dance). It's silly and fun and easily belongs in this list of favorites.

"Everybody's Got the Right" (Assassins)

This song both opens and closes the show, but I particularly like the shorter version at the end. I find this a really creepy villain song (and I've written about it before). The show focuses on several famous presidential assassins or attempted assassins, and this song at the end has each one justifying their actions -- they were reaching for their dreams, they were trying to make a difference in the world, they hope to inspire others to make their own mark, throughout whatever means possible. It's one of the most terrifying inspirational songs I've ever heard.

"Everything You Ever" (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)

(Definite spoilers here, so if you missed out on this, go find it somewhere, watch all 45 minutes, and then come back and read this.)

This was another show I had a lot of trouble choosing a song for. It's all ABOUT villainy, so it's no surprise that a lot of the songs work. Do I go with the angry "Brave New Day"? The you-think-he's-a-hero-but-he's-really-the-villain "Everyone's a Hero"? In the end, I chose this song, which closes out the story with Dr. Horrible getting everything he has been working toward, reaching the upper tiers of supervillains... but finding it it's not what he thought it would be. Man, just rewatching this breaks me a little. This may be due for a rewatch soon.

"A Little Priest" (Sweeney Todd)

Choosing between this and "Epiphany" from this show was tough, but in the end I went with this, one of Sondheim's most enduring numbers. It suffers a bit from Cole Porter Syndrome (i.e., when a song has like 500 verses because the songwriter is just having TOO much fun with his clever wordplay) but the lyrics are clever and fun, and seeing the two giggle for so long about baking people into pies is both morbid and entertaining.

"Meant to Be Yours" (Heathers)

The first one I don't have a performance video for, since, well, there aren't any for this song. I wrote about this only about a month and a half ago in my musical spotlight on Heathers, so I'm just going to repost what I said about it then:

"Veronica has decided she doesn't want to hurt anyone anymore, and she tells J.D. so in no uncertain terms. He threatens her, only to come back and sing this song to her, where he describes his plan for killing everyone in the school at once in the hopes of making some sort of statement about society and says he needs her to be there with him. When he opens the door to her room, he finds her (supposedly) dead body, sings his love for her, but then vows to carry on the work they started.

I find the music to this song just fascinating to listen to. It does an awesome job of switching between J.D.'s tender, emotional proclamations of love and his clearly unhinged fantasies of violence. It does everything it needs to to build the tension of his character toward the end of the show."

"No Good Deed" (Wicked)

Another one there's no good live performance of, unfortunately, but it's really a fantastic villain song -- it isn't just a evil character singing about their evil plans, but it's actually almost more about the concept of villainy (as is a lot of this show). Elphaba has been trying her whole life to do the right thing and it keeps backfiring on her, so here she decides to just give up trying to be right and just do whatever she wants. It's a painful, furious cry of pain and injustice.

"The Phantom of the Opera" (The Phantom of the Opera)

You can't compile a "villain showtunes" list and leave this one off. It's so iconic, especially those opening notes. This is one of those shows that no matter how many times I see it, it still retains its magic for me, and this is one of the most magical moments. Is it ludicrous that the candles rise up out of the water in his underground lake? Yes. But it's also so much fun :-)

"Stars" (Les Miserables)

Dang it, Russell Crowe, you very nearly ruined this song for me. But Philip Quast's marvelous performance can bring it back. I find Javert easily the most interesting character in this musical, and this is the first time we hear his inner monologue and see a side of him that's not just "he's the antagonist because he's supposed to be." This song brings out his rigid, inflexible moral guidelines that drive his whole life -- and that he's not just "evil to be evil." He is firmly convinced he's on "the path of the Lord." It fleshes out a character who could very well just have been a nameless, motivation-less villain and makes him so much more.

"Uninvited" (Sleeping Beauty Wakes)

I couldn't leave this one out! This is not only one of my favorite villain showtunes, it's one of my favorite showtunes, period, from one of my favorite musicals. It's a fun angry song sung from the Maleficent character's point of view in the Sleeping Beauty story. She's so snarky and annoyed in the verses, and then chorus just bursts out in extreme frustration... and this is one of the MOST fun songs to sing along with.

So that's my list. What are your favorite villain songs from movies or musicals? Or just who are your favorite villains?

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