It goes without saying, I love villains. They’re often the most memorable part of a story or among the most memorable parts. Everyone recognizes the killer clown from Stephen King’s IT or Dr. Lecter tied up and wearing a mask in Silence of the Lambs. And in certain musicals, when they have a song about the villain, it can become the best part of the entire show. In fact, in some cases it’s the only good part of some musicals.

I guess I’m a little obsessed with villain songs, particularly “In the Dark of the Night” from the movie Anastasia (perhaps the only good part of an expensive Disney rip-off) and “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. I’ve even written my own villain song about me as a horror writer called “Eater of Fear” (boy, would I love to get that thing produced into an actual musical track) and I came up with an idea for a short story involving a villain song. And I’m not the only one. You’ll find plenty of people who like villain songs and even create lists for them (you can find examples of other people’s lists here, here, and here).

What’s with the love of villain songs? Well, I can think of several reasons. One is that everyone likes a catchy song. It’s part of the reason why we can’t get some of Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs out of our heads sometimes (I’ve been there more than once). Villain songs are among the catchiest because they are often used to explain the plans or motivations of the villains, so a lot of thought is put into making the lyrics and tune exciting while explaining these plans/motivations. It’s a lot more fun than you’re average monologue about the villain’s plans or beliefs, right? Nobody downloads those on their iPods!

Tell me you weren’t wiggling a little in your seat when Dr. Facilier started doing this fun little song and dance.

 

Another reason is that–and this is my own opinion, but I think it has merit–most people want to indulge in their dark side every now and then, they want to have a little fun being evil. How many times have we wished we could get revenge on our bosses or on that nasty kid on the playground? Probably a lot, but we don’t because most of us are good people who would never do something so horrid or we’re afraid of the consequences. A villain song is a sort of trip to the dark side. You get to indulge in being bad and have fun singing about it. And when the song is over, what’s the worst that comes back to haunt you? Maybe someone sees you singing and goes to warn somebody else, but that might be it. Usually, the song ends and we move onto the next part of the story.

In addition, villain songs are packed with dark visuals. Even non-fans of horror like the dark and the creepy every now and then, they just don’t like being assaulted with it in the books or movies or shows they read or watch. No, they prefer to dip their toes, and a villain song is a perfect way to do it. If you’ve ever watched “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame or “Be Prepared”, you know they’ve got some arresting visuals. The former has some freaky Gothic and hellish imagery, the latter has freaking Nazi hyenas marching in front of Fuhrer Scar. It’s kind of creepy, it stays with you, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Anyone who didn’t find this scene a little chilling is either lying or possibly has ties to dangerous organizations or groups.

 

These and a bunch of other reasons could be why villain songs resonate with us so much as an audience. Whether it’s because we love a villain, indulging safely in our dark side, or we just like a catchy tune, villain songs are just a ton of fun and as long as people are writing musicals, they’re bound to show up again and again in our shows and, if they’re good, in our consciousnesses.

Do you have a thing for villain songs? Which are your favorite? And why do you think they tend to stick in people’s minds so much?

Oh, just a reminder that my Big Birthday Sale is in 2 days. From June 10th to June 14th, all my titles–The Quiet Game, Reborn City, and Snake–will be marked down or, in the case of the e-books, free to download from Amazon and Smashwords. So if you’re looking for something new to read and want to get it at a good price, this might be the opportunity for you. Get excited, because it’s coming soon!

That’ll be all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got to go and sing some “Eater of Fear” in my head. Have a good one.

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Comments
  1. One of my favourite villain-songs is from Anastasia, but I’ve only ever heard it in German (since I obviously didn’t know much English as a kid). It’s called “Tief Im Dunkeln der Nacht”, I guess it’s “In the Dark of the Night” in English. But I listened to that whole soundtrack up and down. This one as well as the one of Tarzan – knew them by heart at some point.

  2. Adan Ramie says:

    Rami, I left the e-mail for this post in my inbox, because it was one that I wanted to respond to when I finally had time. I’ve seen the title almost every day since, and every time I read the title, “Be Prepared” starts playing in my head.

    You’re right about the Nazi imagery; even as a child (as I was when The Lion King first came out), I knew there was powerful evil at work in those caves, though I might not have been able to put my finger on why it sent such chills down my spine.

    As always, an entertaining and thought-provoking post.

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