Feeling evil lately? I am.
Well, what better way to express your wicked ways than through song?
Nothing springs to mind.
Let’s explore Disney’s best sinful serenades, shall we?
5. Friends on the Other Side Princess and the Frog
In my opinion, this whole movie was entirely underrated. I thought it was a good movie with stunning animation and some seriously catchy tunes. Try lining up “Almost There” next to “When Will My Life Begin” from Tangled. For shame, Alan Menken. You’re better than that.
But I digress. Point is, Randy Newman wrote some great songs for the movie and this was the cream of the crop. It combines that wonderful, jazzy New Orleans style with a sinister yet seductive quality. Facilier just oozes charm in this number, but without sacrificing his creep factor. I feel like this song wouldn’t be totally out of place in “The Haunted Mansion.” It has that same creep to charm ratio.
I also love how this song isn’t just “look at my evil evil plan!” It shows him actually enacting said evil plan, progressing the plot without slamming you with exposition. Well done, Mr. Newman. Well done.
4. Siamese Cat Song The Lady and the Tramp
Once you get past the shockingly blatant racism of this song, it’s pretty fantastic.
Seriously, my jaw dropped the first time I saw this number when I was older. But it didn’t stop me from loving the song. I’m sorry, I’m a tolerant person and I went to a hippie Quaker school, but I can’t help loving this song. Probably because it got stuck into my psyche before I could understand why the cats had slanted eyes…
But it’s just so catchy! And oily…seriously, I can feel zits growing when I listen to this song. It makes you immediately despise these cats. I’m an animal lover and refuse to watch any movie where an animal is injured (I’m looking at you I am Legend) but I found myself really rooting for these cats to kick the milk can. The animation where these cats just strut around in perfect synch with the beat of the music…it’s just so good.
3. Gaston/Gaston (reprise) Beauty and the Beast
My what a guy, that Howard Ashman.
For those who don’t know, Howard Ashman is the late great lyricist who worked closely with composer Alan Menken and was one of the people responsible for bringing about Disney’s Renaissance in the 90’s. As you can probably tell from this blog, I’m a big fan. Also a very distant cousin. But I hate to brag…
That’s Gaston’s job. Although he doesn’t really need to. LeFou does a fine enough job tooting Gaston’s horn (take that as you will).
This song is just so much fun. Every time I watch it I get a big grin on my face. It makes you wanna grab a pint and toast the giant chin yourself.
I love how seriously everyone takes this song. Not a hint of sarcasm or mockery. Everyone singing the song truly believes this guy is the shiz. Makes him seem even more threatening later on in the movie when his villain cape comes out.
The reprise of this song also contains what are possibly my favorite lyrics out of any song ever written. Sing it with me guys!
“Lefou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…”
” A dangerous pastime-“
You just can’t beat that.
2. Poor Unfortunate Souls The Little Mermaid
I already touched on this one when I ranked my favorite villains, but this is just Ashman being amazing again.
His lyrics are so incredibly clever. Just the first line, “I admit that in the past I’ve been a nasty.” I’m trying to imagine any other circumstance when it would sound anything but bizarre to call somebody “a nasty.” But Ashman makes it work.
Also, thank you to whatever animator decided that during the line “it’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man,” that Ursula would put an actual tongue into her cauldron. Bravo.
Composer Alan Menken also displays his genius here, complementing but not overshadowing the lyrics by giving it a perfect bouncy melody. I love the transition of this song from fun and light to harsh and frightening. It’s like the ultimate peer pressure song. “Come on, kid, I’m your friend. I’m here to help it. Don’t be a guppie, just do it! NOW!”
So listen to it. NOW.
1. Hellfire Hunchback of Notre Dame
Oh, this song. This groundbreaking, inventive, creepy, dense, and epic song. Where do I even begin? I could write entire academic essays about this song. There’s so much in it! But, thankfully, I’ll spare you that.
I remember my freshman year of college a guy on my floor remarked that Disney never does anything religious, dirty, or edgy in any way. I wordlessly pulled this song up on my computer and played it for him.
He had the same reaction as I did watching “The Siamese Cat Song,” albeit for different reasons. Jaw on the floor. “This is Disney!?” he said incredulously.
“Oh, they can bring it,” I replied.
Yeah, a song about a judge’s fear of eternal damnation because he’s lusting after a curvy chick who dances for money isn’t Disney’s typical fare. But they do it so well!
This song is just so…epic. The massive orchestral arrangement, the choir singing Latin in the background, the images of judgmental hooded demon figures…
Fun Fact: Disney was told that if they wanted their G rating, they had to redraw the figure of Esmerelda dancing in the fire. Why? Because the way it was originally kinda made it look like she wasn’t wearing clothes…
Plus I love love love the absolute juxtaposition of the song directly before this, the innocent and lovely “Heaven’s Light” where our hero sings about the same girl with no guilt or ill intentions. Then we have…this.
See, Alan Menken, this is why I get so angry when you write things like “I See the Light” and get an Oscar nom. Because I know you can do things like this! Stop phoning it in!