Top Seven Not So Great Villain Songs
August 3, 2015/3 Comments/in Basic: Movies & TV, Basic: Top Number Lists, BLOGS, Chris Langs Commentaries /by Chris Lang
Villain Songs are fun. They’re where the villain gets to sing about their modus operandi or their villainous schemes. Or maybe they sing about their feelings about the world, the protagonists, and the various people they wish to screw over in order to achieve their goals.
Villain Songs can be darkly comedic (“A Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd, “Hello Little Girl” from Into the Woods, “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” from The Great Mouse Detective, to name a few), dark and threatening (“Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “In the Dark of the Night” from Anastasia, or “Epiphany” from Sweeney Todd, to name a few), or subtly menacing and/or unsettling (“My Friends” from Sweeney Todd, “Lonely Room” from Oklahoma). They’re generally one of the highlights of any musical, and often help to make the villains even more memorable.
Sadly, however, not every villain song is a good one. The ones I’m about to discuss don’t really deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph. These are the ones that are ineptly done and are likely to be ones people laugh AT rather than with, if they don’t just make one cringe for the wrong reasons. I’m not going to say these songs are ‘the worst’ (though the top two on this list are indeed on the wrong side of the line that separates ‘not very good’ from ‘really bad’), but by comparison to many of the great Villain songs, they’re just not that good. So, here we go.
(Oh, and since links can change a lot over the course of time, I’m not providing any video links to any of the songs. You can look for them yourselves if you want to, just to see whether or not you agree with the assessments below. Though a few might be harder to find than others).
7. “Marry the Mole” from Thumbelina
This song actually won a Razzie for Worst Original Song. And yes, it qualifies as a Villain Song because it’s basically Mrs. Fieldmouse trying to convince Thumbelina to marry the rich Mole for his money. “Love won’t pay the mortgage or put porridge in your bowl. Dearie, Marry the Mole.”
The song gets pretty weird even in context, with lines such as “True it’s a fact that he’s not exactly witty. He’s blinder than a bat but at least his eyes are blue. His breath may be alarming, but he’s charming for a troll. Dearie, marry the mole.” But at least his eyes are blue? What is THAT supposed to mean?
Then we come to this bridge.
“Romeo and Juliet were very much in love when they were wed
They honored every vow, so where are they now?
They’re dead! Dead! Very, very dead!”
Talk about taking the wrong message from one of Shakespeare’s classics. Marrying for love isn’t what killed them. It was a series of bad or hasty decisions and one or two things going wrong (the letter going astray), as well as their families being at war, that caused the tragedy.
Anyway, Mrs. Fieldmouse continues to belittle Thumbelina while advising her. She says “Poor Thumbelina, your brain’s so itty-bitty”, and telling her to “think of all the ways that you can decorate a hole”. Yeah, this is one song that we tend to laugh AT rather than with, since the words are just so strange. However, there are worse songs out there, so this only earns a space on the bottom of the countdown.
6. “The Queen of Mean” from A Troll in Central Park
“A Troll in Central Park” is, well, not a good animated movie. It’s an ineptly done kid’s film that’s basically about one kind-hearted good troll who likes flowers and trees, and a bunch of bad trolls who are ugly and bad just for the sake of it. The bad trolls are led by Gnorga, the self-professed Queen of Mean. She explains herself in song, like this:
“It feels delicious to be so vicious
I’m Gnorga, the Queen of Mean
It’s so delightful to be so spiteful
I’m Gnorga, the Queen of Mean”
Granted, there IS a slight bit of cleverness in the one verse (but that isn’t saying much):
“If I choose I’ll destroy and demolish
Arrest and abolish every troll I’ve known
Stand in my way and you’ll stand there forever
Because I’ll turn you into stone!”
However, she blows it in the next verse when she says
“Get in my way and I’ll get you forever
Because I’ll turn you into stone!”
“Get you forever”? (shakes head and sighs). Anyway, she proclaims in the chorus that
“I’m the Queen of Mean
I’m the meanest queen you’ve ever seen.
You should have no doubt about my clout
I’m the Queen of Mean.”
All in all, this song’s kind of lazily written. It’s admittedly catchy, but the words are just uninspired at best. The line that really earned it a spot on this list is the “get you forever” line. Really? Is THAT the best they could come up with? Why couldn’t they just repeat the “Stand in my way and you’ll stand still forever” line from the previous verse? Oh, well. On to the next one.
5. “Money is Such a Beautiful Word” from Tom and Jerry: The Movie
Now, many of you are probably more familiar with the Nostalgia Critic’s review of the Tom and Jerry movie than you are with this movie itself. But just to reiterate, the film ends up having very little to do with Tom and Jerry, who are reduced to being the sidekicks of a little girl trying to find her lost father, while trying to escape from the wicked Aunt Figg and her butler Lickboot. There’s not much to say about Aunt Figg and Lickboot — they’re pretty much your average greedy money-obsessed villains. So what do they sing about when it’s their turn to do a Villain Song? About how they’re obsessed with money, of course.
However, the song runs into problems from the very first line. “Money is Such a Beautiful Word”. Yeah, but it’s just a word, you know? Aunt Figg goes on to say money’s a wonderful thing, and admittedly it does get a tad better when Lickboot actually sings a verse (as opposed to just saying “I know, I know”), but it’s just not very clever or imaginative. It’s just your standard cliched lines about loving money from your standard cliched money-grubbing villains. (And yes, it was pretty cliched when the movie came out).
4. “Mean, Sour, Crafty and Cruel” from Yogi’s First Christmas, Oliver and the Artful Dodger, and The Smurfs
This song is listed as being from three works, all of which were produced by Hanna-Barbera. Yes, Hanna-Barbera basically recycled a song and used it in at least three works that I’m aware of.
One would be the animated movie Oliver and the Artful Dodger, released in 1972. The film was presumably made to cash in on the popularity of the movie musical Oliver! , but the story and tone are a lot more cartoonish than either the musical or the original Oliver Twist written by Charles Dickens. After Oliver’s guardian Mr. Brownlow passes away, Oliver seeks to recover Mr. Brownlow’s missing will with the assistance of a now-reformed Artful Dodger. They are pursued by Brownlow’s crooked nephew, Sam Sniperly (aka ‘Snipes) who has arranged for the will’s disappearance in the first place (being thieving, Brownlow had disinherited Sniperly and left his fortune to Oliver). What follows is a lot of cartoonish slapstick that would be out of place in any Dickens work, and Sniperly singing this villain song as he dances with two vultures.
Sam Sniperly/Snipe: I’m mean, sour, crafty and cruel
I get my pleasure making a fool
of people who go by the Golden Rule
Snipe: (spoken) They don’t have a chance! Ha!
Snipe: (sing) I does it legal
Everything according to the law
I’m the slyest, thorniest, downright ornriest bloke you ever saw!
I’m mean, sour, crafty and cruel
I’ll grab those kids before they can think
And throw them in the workhouse as quick as a wink!
Oliver and the Artful Dodger is overall rather forgettable (though I’m tempted to do another blog entry on it), but the song resurfaced in Yogi’s First Christmas, released in 1980. There, it’s sung by Herman the Hermit, a miserable sourpuss who hates Christmas. He encounters a bratty young boy named Snively who also hates Christmas, and sings another version of the same song.
Herman the Hermit: (singing) I’m mean, sour, nasty and cruel
I get my pleasure as a general rule
Out of scaring them folks with their carnival yules
I do it sneaky
I operate a bit outside the law
I’m the slyest, thorniest, downright orneriest hermit you ever saw!
I’m sour, bad, nasty and mean
I’ll ruin Christmas, scare Santa away
Chase off them reindeer and burn up the sleigh
Herman: (spoken) Ha ha ha ha! We’ll get em good, won’t we Snively?
Snively: Right you mean old hermit!
It THEN resurfaced just two or three years later in an episode of The Smurfs, titled ‘Blue Plague’. There, Gargamel sings of how he’s going to make the Smurfs ill with his latest experiment.
Gargamel: (Singing) We’re mean, sour, crafty, and cruel
We get our pleasure making up gold of Smurfs who live by the Golden Rule.
Gargamel: (Spoken) They won’t have a chance, Azrael.
Gargamel: (Singing) We’ll do them in
with a potion that sticks in their craw;
I’m the sliest, thorniest, down-right orneriest wizard you ever saw.
I’m mean, sour, crafty, and cruel
I’ll make them sick in the wink of an eye.
They’ll sneeze and they’ll cough and they’ll nearly cry. He he ha ha ha!
So thanks to the magic of recycling, it goes from being about throwing kids in a workhouse to being about ruining Christmas to being about poisoning Smurfs.
But in all its incarnations, it’s not really much more than the sum of its parts, at best. It’s not all that catchy, the words aren’t very clever, and there’s very little to it other than a guy boasting about how mean he is and straight out telling just what he’s going to do to the heroes. The fact that it’s been used three times in three different works is far more interesting than the song itself is. All in all, it won’t be giving Disney villains any sleepless nights worrying about if their song’s good enough.
3. “Ruber’s Song” from Quest for Camelot
Quest for Camelot is a frustrating movie. It’s one that really could have been good, if only it wasn’t forced to try to imitate the 90’s Disney formula, and its heroine had actually BEEN a strong female character instead of having to be rescued more often than she did any actual heroics. Nonetheless, there are a few good songs in it. “I Stand Alone” and “The Prayer” are both highlights of the film, and ones I’d pick for a countdown of good songs from not-so-good movies.
“Ruber’s Song”, however, not so much. It’s this high on the list because it barely even qualifies as a song. Granted, there’s dramatic music, but the words are just so awkward.
“I have a plan. It includes you
You, Juliana will lead me to … Camelot!”
And he goes on in this vein, as if he’s making up the words and the rhymes as he goes along. It reminds me of bad villain songs I made up when I was eleven years old. Now, some say his awkward delivery and the awkward words are supposed to be symptoms of Ruber’s madness: he’s not just power-mad, he IS insane.
But still, this song is half-sung, half spoken, and generally jarring. It’s hard to tell where the spoken parts end and the singing begins, and vice versa. “Fie on Goodness” or “The Seven Deadly Virtues”, this song is not (and that’s a deliberate reference to an overall better musical about Camelot).
Okay, let’s brace ourselves. Now we’re getting into the REALLY bad stuff. So, here’s the top two.
2. “We’re the Titans” from the animated Hercules and Xena: Battle for Mount Olympus movie
Hercules and Xena: Battle for Mount Olympus is an animated spinoff movie of the then-popular first-run syndicated adventure shows of the 90’s. It was also clearly intended to cash in on the craze generated by the recent Disney animated Hercules movie. In this film, Hera (as part of her war against Zeus) unleashes the Titans and they take over Olympus, and Hercules and Xena have to stop them. There are only three songs in this film, and Xena’s ballad about courage and heroism isn’t so bad. However, the song that immediately precedes it is one of the worst villain songs I’ve ever heard anywhere.
We cut to the Titans partying as they’ve taken over Olympus and had the Greek gods rendered helpless. They sing their song, and it’s dull, delivered in a low monotone, and its lyrics make me cringe. Especially the portion quoted below:
“We’re the Titans, we’re the worst
We’re meaner and we’re so much more perversed
Zeus had all the luck but now he’s cursed
Cause we’re the Titans. We’re the worst.”
You can look it up if you’re brave enough. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
However, the Titans are wrong about one thing. They’re NOT the worst — at least not on this countdown. What could be worse than cartoonish Titans singing badly written lyrics in a low monotone? How about this one from someone I’ve talked about in previous articles.
1. “Shark Rap” from Tentacolino
Now here we come to a song that’s from one of those movies that make you wonder why it even exists. It’s from Tentacalino, aka Search For the Titanic, which is a sequel to the infamous The Legend of the Titanic (which I’ve covered in my Titanic Turkeys series of columns). Now, as I’ve gone into in replies to comments, we KNOW why The Legend of the Titanic exists: It exists to jump on the Titanic bandwagon inspired by the popularity of the James Cameron Titanic film. The main question is why it was written the way it was written. However, another question is why it would spawn any sort of spinoff or sequel. Did the film REALLY do so well in Italy that people wanted to see more of Top Connors, Ronnie, and the octopus Tentacles?
I don’t know. What I DO know is that early on in the film, we get our first glimpse of the shark leader, who I think is supposed to be the same Mr. Ice (aka Icy Incisors) from the previous movie. Only here, it seems he’s really gleeful about sinking ships, and is mockingly dressed in an outfit similar to the Titanic captain’s outfit. Even crazier than that is the bizarre rap song he sings, with a chorus of clams that, in fear of him, sing his praises.
Move over, rapping dog! Here’s a rapping shark!
However, I had a hard time transcribing the lyrics to this one. Some of the shark’s words are hard to make out, but that’s NOTHING compared to the clams’ fast-paced chorus later in the song. Nonetheless, I’ll try to share with you a few words to get an idea of this song…
Shark: Totally an assassin, terror of the sea
Yeah the terror, see that was me
You all know why and that’s no lie!
Clams: Oh, you you
There’s no one meaner than you
Oh, you you
There’s no one meaner than you
Shark: Everyone here they’ll need to know
The world is ready and the ocean will flow
I’m the great terror on the coral reef
They can sing about the great Ice Teeth
And then the clams go with a bunch of words that are sung so quick I can’t make most of them out.
“No one (something something) meaner than you
(something) shark, what can we do? (even more stuff I can’t make out all the words to”.
And then the shark sings another verse about how he likes sinking ships. “Look at my empire, and all you’ll see are sunken ships in my cemetary.” Then the clams sing another fast-paced chorus which goes something like this… “No one (sure sure?) meaner than you. Evil mad and wicked, too. (long stuff about how mean the shark is which I can’t understand all of, ending with). You’re ferocious, we’re all hopeless without you, our king.”
This song might be considered So Bad It’s Good by many. It’s hilariously bad in some of its lyrical content, and is just plain weird. However, the reason it earns a number one spot on this countdown is because it’s so incoherent in spots, in addition to the quality of the lyrics. Honestly, unless I get the official lyrics from the makers of this film, there’s no way I’ll understand the clams “No one (sure sure?) meaner than you” verses, other than the general gist that they’re singing about how evil the shark is. All in all, this song was poorly put together.
And guess what? As weird as the song is, the movie gets even MORE insane from that point on. I’m STILL not sure whether I want to even try to review it (though others, including Whyboy, have tried).
Anyway, a good Villain Song, be it serious or darkly comical, has clever lyrics that give us insights into the villain’s character, and help make the villain even more interesting. They’re among the most memorable songs in a musical, and help to make the villain memorable. The songs here, however, don’t quite succeed the way good Villain Songs do.
Keep in mind, of course, that all this is subjective. You might rank these songs differently, or even feel some shouldn’t even be on this list. In any case, feel free to leave your comments below.