by Sarah Cook
As we’ve mentioned before, villain songs are essential to movie musicals. Even more so when they are on stage. In fact, the coveted theatre halls, and dramatic lighting play very well to an evil number or two. What better way to romp through a belt-y sinister song with a considerable, costumed chorus with a devilishly dynamite dance.
Now we’re at the top ten – so which dark-hearted ditty hit number one?
Don’t miss 20 – 11!
10) World Burn – Mean Girls
Her name is Regina George, and she is a pretty big deal. Yes, the ultimate Queen Bee, immortalised on the screen by Rachel McAdams, has finally made it to the stage. And it is so fetch.
Based on the 2004 movie of the same name, with Tina Fey penning both, the show follows the hijinks of high school and those who navigate it. Regina, the most popular girl, rules in a villainous and vaporous way. When Cady, a new transfer who had previously lived in Africa, upsets Regina’s rule, the latter is determined to set it on fire.
Because if the Queen Bee is going down, then the whole hive is coming with her.
9) You’ll Be Back – Hamilton
Depending on what political side you fall, there are technically loads of villain songs in Hamilton. From the sprightly What Did I Miss? to the accusatory number Washington On Your Side, our political ‘hero’ faces competiton from Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and more
Yet the big bad number belongs to the British. Most importantly, King George III played most famously and unforgettably by Jonathon Groff. Man, whoever gets cast in this role must have the best time. They come out, sing a hilarious number to two, to huge fanfare, then get to dance or jeer from the sidelines. Shout out to the spittle, which became a huge focal point when the song was sung in the Disney+ recording.
8) Pretty Women – Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
What makes a villain? Is it a man who was torn from his family for unknown reasons, sent away to a torturous land only to find his wife and daughter are dead or missing and thusly goes on a murderous rampage? Or is it a man of power who wields his might to persecute the poor, imprison the innocent, and assaults anyone who catches his attention?
Perhaps it is both. Here in Stephen Sondheim’s bloody spectacle, they get their own song. Judge Turpin is an odious creature who has torn barber Benjamin Barker from his family, raped the poor Julie, and wishes to make Barker’s daughter his new wife. Barker, of course, is now Sweeny Todd and is giving Judge Turpin a shave.
The men duet about women as Sweeny preps his blades for killing. It’s a tense sequence as you wonder when the murder is about to slice the throat he has been planning to kill. And when he is interrupted…it sends Todd on his homicidal rampage.
7) And Eve Was Weak – Carrie
Dubious debates as to what makes someone a villain continues in another cult movie turned to stage musical. This horror outing is an incredible adaptation of Brian DePalma’s movie, and in turn, Stephen King’s novel. It revolves around the shy Carrie who is tortured by her overtly religious mother as well as her classmates. However, in an almost vicious version of Matilda, Carrie finds out that she has special powers.
Of course, whilst Carrie does slaughter her classmates as she is consumed by her inner darkness after her bloody humiliation, it is her mother Margaret who towers over the production. In this song, our shy titular character confronts her mother about an incident at school, and fearing her daughter is heading for hell, Margaret locks her in the basement. An awful woman.
6) No Good Deed – Wicked
Ok so, there is another big debate as to whether or not this counts as a villain song. After all, Stephen Schwartz’ green drenched, award-winner has a lot of numbers telling us exactly why Elphaba – aka the Wicked Witch of the West – was actually a good and kindly person, pushed to notoriety by the powers at be. Arguably, then, the biggest villainous number is the mob song at the beginning of the show, No One Mourns the Wicked. Or perhaps, Wonderful…
Those nearly made it here but there is something so desperate and powerful about Idina Menzel’s vocals here that we would be remiss not to mention it. No Good Deed is sung after Elphaba’s love Fiyero is taken away by Oz’s soldiers. It’s the ultimate blow that makes the emerald skinned enchantress question her own actions that inadvertently affected her sister, her beloved professor, and now her partner. The song is played like a villain’s turn which culminates in Elphaba’s new creed: If the whole world says she is wicked, then she will happily, now, step into the role.
5) Meant to be Yours – Heathers
Heathers features twice on this list but, truthfully, it could feature more. The black comedy about murder, suicide, and high school anarchy is filled with a lot of despicable people including the aforementioned Heather Chandler.
However, Jason Dean AKA JD is the ultimate big bad, even if he looks rather dashing in a leather jacket. JD has two fantastic songs that showcase his murderous tendencies. Whilst Our Love is God is brilliant at truly revealing what goes on behind that floppy haircut, Meant to be Yours is JD at the top of his powers.
His obsession for Veronica and teenage bloodshed end in this brilliant menacing song where he details his plans to blow-up the school. With a chorus of his peers to underscore this moment, Meant to be Yours is a chilling triumph.
4) Kick It Up A Notch – Starship
From Harry Potter to Oregon’s Trail, StarKid productions have given us some incredible musicals, songs, and more. Created at the University of Michigan by Glee’s Darren Criss and friends Brian Holden, Matt Lang, and Nick Lang, StarKid has accrued a massive following who come and see their comedic shows. There are many villain songs from the likes of Voldemort, Superman, and Jafar.
However, it is original musical Starship which has the best antagonist song.
Drawing inspiration from films such as Aliens and The Little Mermaid, Starship revolves around alien Bug who wishes to be human. His wish is granted by villain Pincer. However, it is soon revealed that Pincer wishes to use Bug to draw the humans into his lair so he can gobble them up.
This catchy number sung by the brilliant Dylan Saunders is a smooth jazz-inspired villain song and it is impossible not to love.
3) Say My Name – Beetlejuice
There has been a surge of movies becoming stage musicals – especially if they are cult ones. Look above at Heathers, Carrie, and Mean Girls! Darkly comic shows seem to be extremely popular, especially with his new generation of musical lovers.
Beetlejuice enjoyed some success for numbers such as Dead Mom and The Whole Being Dead Thing. But its biggest triumph is Broadway babe Alex Brightman’s unique and almost fantastical vocals as the titular ghost with the most. Growly, joyous, sinister, and more, Brightman’s talents are best showcased in Say My Name.
At the point of the show, Beetlejuice is trying to get a morose Lydia to, well, say his name three times so he can unleash bloody hell. It’s a great tete-a-tete between the pair, with Lydia eventually taking over the vocals to sing her own plan of destruction. Fun and fiendish, this is a fantastic toe-tapping number.
2) The Music of the Night – The Phantom of the Opera
This is probably the melodious and softest song on this villain playlist. Obviously, there is a conversation to be had here as to the legitimacy of this song being a rogue number. There are many people who do not see the titular character as a bad guy. Though he is a tortured, shunned genius, it is clear that it has turned to madness.
The man is so distorted because of the world’s compassionless treatment of him that he kills without a thought, murders all that’s good, and kidnaps Christine without a moment’s hesitation.
The Music of the Night, which is a lovely song, is the Phantom’s seduction. It is him begging Christine to follow him into the darkness that envelopes him. It is his way of asking her to love him. It is the Phantom imploring Christine to forget the light and to belong to him wholly. Though tenderly sung, the implications of the number are villainous indeed.
1) Alive – Jekyll and Hyde
We’ve spoken before, in great length, about the brilliance of this Gothic musical so it’s hard to pick one villainous song. After all, the show contains the seductive It’s A Dangerous Game, the near manic I Need to Know, and the brilliantly conceived Confrontation. However, though he may appear in one form or another – be it under the skin of Jekyll or upon the flesh of Lucy – his big number comes in the form of Alive.
The song sees our fiendish fellow unleashed from the confines of Dr Jekyll as he runs rampant throughout London. Murder and mayhem ensue throughout the song, but the lyrics highlight how triumphant and joyous he feels. And it’s just so good to belt out whenever you are feeling wicked…
With the big lyric being, “And I feel I’ll live on forever, with Satan himself by my side,” it’s no wonder this is our number one villain song.