Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.
This is the week that I’ve been looking forward to since I started this series. Today, I’ll be finishing the month by counting down the top 12 most spine-tingling songs written. These are usually villain songs, songs used in an epic battle scene, and more.
#12: Once and for All from Newsies
In the movie, this is the first song where you don’t see any of the actors singing; they’re working on spreading the word about the upcoming protest for the Newsies’ strike. You can’t help but feel the gravity of the situation. These kids are declaring war on Pulitzer, and they’re putting everything on the line because they know how much their success would mean to the rest of the city.
#11: Brand New Day from Dr. Horrible
This is a hard song to sing—especially the two verses—but when you sing the chorus to your problems, I find it gives you quite a confidence boost. And then, of course, there’s Neil Patrick Harris. Just look at that smile he gives at the beginning of the video. I love the faces he makes when he’s about to do something so devious, so unthinkable, so disgustingly evil. Additionally, I love how the third chorus starts soft, almost like a lullaby, before the camera zooms out to show him as Godzilla. That’s actually a common trait of villain songs; they start out quiet before raising the level of intensity and making your bones tingle.
#10: Requiem for a Tower
I realize this is a rewritten version of “Requiem for a Dream/Lux Eterna.” But “Requiem for a Tower” is the superior of the two, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so. They really upped the intensity in the updated version by adding the percussion and choir, making it the best choice for a song to use in a teaser trailer (like they did in Lord of the Rings: Two Towers.) Well…second best.
#9: Song used for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows teaser trailer
Okay, this is a little bit of cheating since the music from this teaser was a compilation of songs. You know what, though? This music was easily the best part of the trailer. The Pfeifer Broz Music team is responsible for music in trailers such as Fellowship of the Ring, Dead Man’s Chest, Order of the Phoenix, and of course, Deathly Hallows. As I mentioned before, most of the trailer is a blend of songs, both written by Pfeifer Broz Music. The first half features “Glacial Supremacy,” while the second half features “Absolute Anthropoid.” And of course, we have a touch of John Williams’ “Hedwig’s Theme” to add the taste of Harry Potter that all fans of the book series know and love today.
#8: Defying Gravity/No Good Deed from Wicked
Idina Menzel, who played Elphaba in Broadway’s popular musical Wicked, sings both of these songs. “Defying Gravity” centers on Elphaba’s decision to fly solo and fight against the injustice going on in Oz. While singing “No Good Deed,” Elphaba ponders her decisions since “Defying Gravity” and decides that if the rest of the world is determined to make her evil, then evil she must be. There’s a lot of power in Menzel’s voice, and it shows in these two songs. On top of that, the music is intense as well, which is a common feature in songs about complicated villainy.
#7: Battle with the Forces of Evil from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
The battle against Maleficent is easily one of Disney’s finest cinematic moments. And a lot of this is courtesy of the music that played in the background, written by George Bruns. It’s split into three parts: escape from Maleficent’s fortress, race to the castle, and the infamous battle with the dragon. Altogether, this musical masterpiece has the right amount of intensity to create a nail-biting climax.
#6: Be Prepared and My Lullaby from Disney’s The Lion King series
Scar and Zira are interesting villains. They’re quite similar to Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter; the male wants to be in power and murder on the side, while the female wants to murder and be in power on the side (and she has a slight obsession with her male counterpart). And nowhere is this demonstrated best than in their song numbers. Scar’s song “Be Prepared” has been described in the past as a song that takes a group of hyenas and turns them into an army of Nazis. And…yeah, I don’t know how else to label it. On the other hand, Zira’s song “My Lullaby” is the national anthem of serial killers, talking about how nothing is sweeter than murder and anguish.
#5: Cell Block Tango from Chicago
What do you get when you mix 20s jazz music with a jail full of angry murderesses who want to sing a villain song? This, of course! Like the best of villain songs, they build the passion with each story they tell and each chorus they sing, making for delicious bone tingling moments. And that last chorus is by far the ultimate climax of villain songs. It sticks in your memory even when the show’s over.
#4: Let it Go from Frozen
Sung by Elphaba—I mean, Elsa—I mean, Elphaba—I mean, Idina Menzel—“Let it Go” is the song from Frozen that everyone remembers the most. Before that, you had a few songs that were okay. But when the piano started playing in the background and Menzel started to let ‘er rip, that was when we started to enjoy the movie. The lyrics, the music, the vocals, the animation during this scene, it was beautiful. I also like how it didn’t even end on a loud note; it ends with Elsa looking coolly at the audience and bragging about how the cold is her domain.
#3: Café 512 by Ryan George
This has to be one of the most underrated songs on the face of the planet. There’s no version of it on iTunes, nor is there a good version of it anywhere on YouTube. Heck, I’m not even satisfied with the link I’m using. The only reason I know it exists is because my band played it at our Christmas concert. And believe me, when you get it just right, it sounds like doing the tango in a volcano. And it’s every bit as fun to play as it is to listen to. People, we have to get this song on iTunes, because everyone deserves the chance to listen to it in all its glory.
#2: Deliver Us/Plagues of Egypt from Prince of Egypt
“Deliver us” is one of the best introductions to an animated movie. The first twenty seconds or so sound like the symphonic way of saying “long ago, in the land of Egypt…” and then BOOM! Suddenly we’re introduced to the Hebrews suffering in slavery as the movie begins the story of Moses. And then there’s the music that plays as we get a glimpse of the plagues of Egypt. The build-up, the choir, the music, it’s a perfect addition to the amazing Prince of Egypt soundtrack.
#1: Hellfire from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and Savages from Disney’s Pocahontas
Great artistry aside, “Hellfire” and “Savages” both have one feature that sets them apart from other villain songs. In Hunchback, Frollo sings about how his spontaneous lust for the gypsy Esmeralda is driving him mad, and the only way to fix it is by either destroying her or taking her as his own. There’s no doubt that he’s truly the villain of the movie, but in this song sequence, his lust for power and for Esmeralda drive him from hypocritical bigot to savage madman. In Pocahontas, both the Native Americans and the Englishmen sing about the hate they have for the other side, hate born from fear of the unknown. Again, Governor Ratcliff is regarded as the villain of the movie. But as cliché as the song is, “Savages” is a reminder that prejudice and fear of the unknown can turn to hate, and hate can turn even the best of people into monsters. The psychological twists in both of these songs make them all the more intense, as well as my pick for the two best villain songs written.
One more week of Music Month to go! Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”