Admit it. For many of us, Villain Songs are a guilty pleasure.
Villain Songs are, of course, songs sung by the villain of a musical, be it a stage musical, an animated feature, or whatever. There the villain sings about their goals, their feelings about themselves, their feelings about the people whose lives they’re about to ruin (via scamming them, stealing from them, or worse), and/or about their motives. Villain songs can be funny, over-the-top, dramatic, or even frightening. Whatever the mood of the song is, Villain Songs usually tend to be among the most memorable songs of a musical.
Of course, not all Villain Songs actually come from musicals. There are some songs that certainly qualify as Villain Songs, but which aren’t from works that we can truly call a musical. This can be because either
A. The work in question has only one song, and the Villain Song happens to be it.
B. The song isn’t from a work. It’s a song inspired by a villain or villains sung from the point of view of a villain. You’re likely to find this song at live concerts or CDs by singers who sing songs themed around fantasy, sci-fi, fairy tales, horror, and myths and legends.
So without further ado, here’s my Top Seven Villain Songs That Aren’t From Musicals. Why Top Seven? Because I like to go TWO steps beyond.
7. “Carnage Rules” by Green Jelly
This power-punk rock song is a version with lyrics of the main theme from the SNES game ‘Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage’, based on the Spider-Man comic book storyline of the same name. Sung from the viewpoint of the supervillain Carnage, the crazed serial killer bonded with an alien symbiote sings about how he wants to paint the town red (blood red, that is). To get you an idea, I’ll quote a bit from the first verse and the first chorus:
Rockin’ and rollin’ my way through town. Yeah, baby, I get around.
Make mine murder, paint the town red,
Squash any spider, hanging by a thread
You can’t run
I’m having too much fun
Don’t you know little fools
Don’t you know that Carnage rules
Tell you once I won’t tell you twice
Heed my warning and pay my price
The tone definitely fits in with one of Spider-Man’s most insane villains. Loud, sometimes cheesy, and full of energy, the lyrics are fully in character with the homicidal lunatic with the red alien symbiote. I knew when I first heard it that it would earn a spot on this countdown of Villain Songs.
Next, we’ll move into something that’s also inspired by comic book supervillains, but is more overtly comedic. Albeit darkly comedic.
6. “House Party At Arkham Asylum” by the Great Luke Ski
The Joker, of course, is one of the most colorful and over-the-top lunatic supervillains ever created. So of course he’s bound to have a Villain Song or two in the various adaptations that have been made. This song, however, is not from any of those adaptations. It’s by The Great Luke Ski, an artist who specializes in comedy songs inspired by various geeky properties.
Sung by the Joker, ‘House Party at Arkham Asylum’ tells of how all the various Bat-villains are all partying in their crazy ways. It starts off with the Joker introducing himself and Harley Quinn in this fashion…
House party at Arkham Asylum.
I’m the Joker, the man, your host.
Shake my hand my fine cousin,
You’ll feel the joy buzzin’,
It’ll fry you up like French Toast. (buzz/shock sfx) (Yaah!)
House party at Arkham Asylum.
Harley Quinn is your hostess today.
Take their coat and their hat and
Give them a straight jacket!
Harley: “Sure thing, Mista J.!”
It goes on from there, naming the various Bat-villains, their ways of partying (Ra’s Al Ghul has his new rapping partner, Kid Croc – presumably the reptilian Killer Croc), and of course plenty of darkly comedic jokes. Throughout, Luke Ski does a pretty good imitation of Mark Hamill’s Joker voice. If you like a little fun with one of the greatest Rogues Galleries in comics (and I’m sure the Batvillains rank highly on everyone’s list of greatest Rogues Galleries), then ‘House Party at Arkham Asylum’ is the song for you.
5. ‘Joker’s Song’ by Miracle of Sound
Another Villain Song for the Joker, this take by Miracle of Sound has the Joker telling Batman that Batman can’t truly be rid of the Joker, because he NEEDS the Joker to be his opposite.
We are two of a kind
Violent, unsound of mind
You’re the yin to my yang, can’t you see?
And if I were to leave
You would grumble and grieve
Face it, Bats, you’d be lost without me
You’d be lost (you’d be lost)
You’d be lost (you’d be lost)
Face it, Bats, you’d be lost without me
Of course, this IS the Joker we’re talking about here. Just about any version of the Joker, from Mark Hamill’s in Batman: The Animated Series to Jack Nicholson’s in Batman (1989) to the late Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight (2008) to the versions seen in the comic books use psychological tactics on Batman to some extent (and of course, Batman himself was created to be someone who uses psychological warfare himself). So take what the Joker says with a grain of salt.
However, it is fascinating because perhaps, in the Joker’s twisted mind, this IS how he perceives his relationship with Batman: They’re destined to do this mad dance with each other till the end of time (and indeed, the song’s tune is that of a slow dance like a waltz), to give each other purpose.
It fits in with some characterizations of the Joker where (such as in the B:TAS animated series episode ‘The Man Who Killed Batman’) if Batman ever died or if the Joker ever believed Batman died (spoiler for that episode: It turned out Batman wasn’t dead), the Joker would conclude that ‘Crime has lost its punchline’ and actually mourn his loss.
In this song, the Joker seems to be projecting that attitude onto Batman, who probably would not feel the exact same way. It’s a fascinating character study of one of Batman’s best known and greatest villains.
4. (tie) ‘Graverobber at Large’ by Creature Feature and ‘Such Horrible Things’ by Creature Feature
For the purposes of this countdown, I think the one thing any of us really needs to know about Creature Feature is that as far as they’re concerned, it’s Halloween all year round. How else do we explain songs like ‘A Gorey Demise’ (an alphabetical listing of people who died in various darkly comic ways), ‘The Greatest Show Unearthed’, and various songs about zombies, ghouls, and monsters? And of course, songs like these two songs.
“Graverobber at Large” is sung from the viewpoint of the titular graverobber, as he describes how he makes money from his illegal and distasteful activities. “Death is my business and business is good! There’s a graverobber at large, ripping bodies from hallowed ground. Desecrate those who rest in peace, there’s profit to be made from the recent deceased.”
“Such Horrible Things” is another darkly comedic song that is sung from the point of view of a guy who clearly is insane, and does sadistic things to his family and those around him since he was born and bit the nurse. Every two years since his birth, he tops himself with mean-spirited pranks and actions. The chorus pretty much spells it out.
“I Am Not A Bad Man Even Though I Do Bad Things
Very Bad Things , Such Horrible Things
But It’s Not Quite What It Seems
Not Quite What He Seems
Not Quite What I Seem
It’s Exactly What It Seems”
The character even admits that he deserves all sorts of horrible punishments for his actions. A bizarre and off-the-wall song from a bizarre and off-the-wall group.
Moving on to another artist who sings comedic songs about demons and other dark subjects, we have…
3. “When You’re Evil” by Voltaire
We don’t know much about the villain who sings this song, and that’s pretty much the point. All we really need to know is that this is a Card Carrying Villain who kicks grannies down the stairs and makes children cry just For the Evulz. As the chorus goes “I do it all because I’m evil. And I do it all for free, your tears are all the pay I’ll ever need.”
This song is darkly comic and pretty over-the-top. I really can’t hope to do it justice with the few lines I quoted here. But it’s certainly a fun one.
Now, a lot of the songs on this countdown can be described as ‘darkly comedic’. But now we’re going into the darker and more disturbing territory here.
2. “Still Alive” from Portal
This might be the first villain song sung by a computer intelligence. This is sung by GLaDOS at the end of the game Portal. Our protagonist Chell, in the process of escaping the experiment run by the computer GLaDOS, pretty much tore GLaDOS’ various cores out and burned them, and assumes she killed the computer. But GLaDOS isn’t quite finished off, and sings this song to let us know she is Still Alive. All in a robotic monotone.
The song has GLaDOS pretty much trying to justify imprisoning people and all the psychological and other experiments performed at the complex.
“Aperture science. We do what we must because we can.
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead
But there’s no sense crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying till you run out of cake. And the science gets done and you make a neat gun for the people who are still alive.”
GLaDOS goes on a bit, letting us know that she’s doing science and is still alive. All in all, this song’s kind of unsettling. But nowhere near as disturbing as number one on my list.
1. “Mordred’s Lullaby” by Heather Dale
Now, King Arthur’s half-sister Morgan Le Fey is a complex character whose goals and motivations largely depend on who’s writing this particular take on the Arthurian mythos, and what interpretation they take. Some portray Morgan as an evil enchantress, while others portray her as a victim of fate. Some portray her as having much anger toward Arthur, believing that he stole the throne of Camelot and has no legitimate right to it.
This last portrayal is more or less Heather Dale’s take on Morgan. Here, Morgan turns against Arthur and tricks him into sleeping with her, thereby conceiving Arthur’s son and nephew, Mordred. The song is Morgan singing to Mordred about how she’s raising him to bring down the kingdom of Camelot, even though it’ll end up costing Mordred his life.
“Guileless son, I’ll shape your belief, and you’ll always know that your father’s a thief. And you won’t understand the cause of your grief, but you’ll always follow the voices beneath.”
And those aren’t even the darkest lines. A dramatic and powerful song done in a cinematic Celtic style, it’s from Heather Dale’s Arthurian-themed album The Trial of Lancelot.
So that’s my Top Seven Villain Songs That Aren’t From Musicals. I highly recommend that you look up and listen to all these songs yourself, as there’s just no way my descriptions and quoting of lyrics can do justice to them.
Feel free to leave comments below.