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#1
Old 06-05-2011, 06:48 AM
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Villains and Theme Music

I went to a workshop last summer where an author talked to us about villains, and he said that one of the most important parts of creating a good villain is the theme music.

Who is your favorite villain and what is their theme music? Alternatively, what is a good song that sounds like it should be a villain's theme music, and what type of villain would it go with? What commercial villain is lacking a theme song, and what should it be?
#2
Old 06-05-2011, 07:42 AM
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Obviously,

Darth Vader / Imperial March
#3
Old 06-05-2011, 08:48 AM
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Something I haven't heard in a long time and not quite a "theme song" and not quite villains, but in many old Cowboy and Indian Westerns, whenever the Indians would threaten to do something, or would appear suddenly or things of that nature, there would be this "dahn-dahn-dahnan-dahn" ditty. I would bet there's a YouTube clip from such a movie with that set of notes or very similar.

The Shadow and The Whistler (OTR) both had creepy tunes that were almost theme songs, but they weren't villains so much.
#4
Old 06-05-2011, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labtrash View Post
Obviously,

Darth Vader / Imperial March
John Williams always saves his best for the villains. Another case in point: The shark's theme in Jaws.
#5
Old 06-05-2011, 10:52 AM
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Omar (from The Wire) had a flat whistling rendition of "Farmer In the Dell."
#6
Old 06-05-2011, 11:08 AM
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Sauron has his own theme; not as obvious or overbearing as the imperial march; more disturbing in some way, it gets under your skin.


Roddy
#7
Old 06-05-2011, 11:52 AM
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Jaws
#8
Old 06-05-2011, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labtrash View Post
Obviously,

Darth Vader / Imperial March
Absolutely the best, bar none.

Are we including songs that villains sing? For about the catchiest, most gets-stuck-in-your-head villain's song, I'd have to go with the "Shiver My Timbers" song from Muppet Treasure Island. Or maybe Oogie Boogie's Song from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or "Be Prepared" from Lion King. Or "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid...But the best is the one that really should not be watched by kids..."Hellfire", from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame.

...dang, "kid's" movies have some awesome villains' songs.
#9
Old 06-05-2011, 12:10 PM
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WhyNot: I see your songs and raise youSnuff out the light from The Empereor's New Groove. On the surface a happy little song, but it tells how Yzma will do goddamn anything to plunge the world into total darkness.

Wasn't included in the movie in the end, but a worthy song nonetheless.
#10
Old 06-05-2011, 12:32 PM
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I'm going to be unoriginal and agree with those who already mentioned Imperial Wars . Vader may not be my favorite villain, but as far as villainous theme music goes, that one's pretty tough to beat.

As for songs sung by the villain: Frollo's Hellfire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney-villain song and quite possibly the darkest song in any movie made by Disney.

Finally, while it's not in a movie and thus not created with any particular villain in mind, Voltaire's When You're Evil is one of my favorite songs and a great tribute to the kind of villain who knows that what he's doing is wrong, but doesn't give a damn. In fact, the narrator of this particular song positively revels in his own wickedness:

I do it all because I'm evil and I'd do it all for free. Your tears are all the pay I'll ever need.
#11
Old 06-05-2011, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
Absolutely the best, bar none.

Are we including songs that villains sing? .
Or whistle? "Nurse" Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) whistling "Twisted Nerve" in Kill Bill.
#12
Old 06-05-2011, 12:42 PM
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You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch...
#13
Old 06-05-2011, 12:44 PM
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The Wolf's Theme, from Peter and the Wolf.
#14
Old 06-05-2011, 12:59 PM
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The Wolf's theme in Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is pure villany!

Last edited by Labdad; 06-05-2011 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Alessan beat me to it!
#15
Old 06-05-2011, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Are we including songs that villains sing? For about the catchiest, most gets-stuck-in-your-head villain's song, I'd have to go with the "Shiver My Timbers" song from Muppet Treasure Island. Or maybe Oogie Boogie's Song from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or "Be Prepared" from Lion King. Or "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid...But the best is the one that really should not be watched by kids..."Hellfire", from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame.

...dang, "kid's" movies have some awesome villains' songs.
I've never seen MTI. However, yeah, great villain songs. I love the way that the lighting changes from regular to black light in the Oogie Boogie song.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chilon View Post
I'm going to be unoriginal and agree with those who already mentioned Imperial Wars . Vader may not be my favorite villain, but as far as villainous theme music goes, that one's pretty tough to beat.

As for songs sung by the villain: Frollo's Hellfire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney-villain song and quite possibly the darkest song in any movie made by Disney.

Finally, while it's not in a movie and thus not created with any particular villain in mind, Voltaire's When You're Evil is one of my favorite songs and a great tribute to the kind of villain who knows that what he's doing is wrong, but doesn't give a damn. In fact, the narrator of this particular song positively revels in his own wickedness:

I do it all because I'm evil and I'd do it all for free. Your tears are all the pay I'll ever need.
I'm going to cast my vote for Hellfire, even over the Imperial March. Frollo regards himself as a paragon of virtue, and does attempt to overcome his lust for Esmeralda. And, of course, fails. I agree, it's probably the darkest ever Disney song.
#16
Old 06-05-2011, 03:47 PM
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What Hollywood did to poor Haydn's Deutschland Uber Alles, playing the first bar with it's last note drawn out as menacingly as possible.

Last edited by Slithy Tove; 06-05-2011 at 03:51 PM.
#17
Old 06-05-2011, 08:29 PM
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Since no one posted a link to Vader's music...
#18
Old 06-05-2011, 08:37 PM
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An obscure one, but near and dear to my heart: Terry Silver from The Karate Kid, Part III. This ponytailed villain had his own sweeping, ominous strings theme composed by the great Bill Conti. There were various variations on it throughout the movie - I think the clip in the link encompasses the entire theme.

I really love this one.
#19
Old 06-05-2011, 08:50 PM
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Kefka.
#20
Old 06-05-2011, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
Or whistle? "Nurse" Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) whistling "Twisted Nerve" in Kill Bill.
One of the best.

Not so much the best. Alex from A Clockwork Orange always singing "Singing in the Rain" was so unsettling. You know it's supposed to be a song about being happy and whatnot.
#21
Old 06-05-2011, 09:28 PM
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The intro song for Despicable Me is one of the most fantastic villain songs ever. It's like a twisted upbeat version of a James Bond theme. Also it's amazingly ear-wormy.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=axbUCR1nKRA

For nastiest? I have to say Ursula's "Poor Unfortunate Things" always gets me creeped out. She's just so nasty about it!

For non-theatrical-release villains, GlaDOS' ending song in Portal. Very nice. "we do what we must, because we can." Such a good song.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ljFaKRTrI
#22
Old 06-05-2011, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chilon View Post
Finally, while it's not in a movie and thus not created with any particular villain in mind, Voltaire's When You're Evil is one of my favorite songs and a great tribute to the kind of villain who knows that what he's doing is wrong, but doesn't give a damn.
I came in to mention this song. I sing it more often than is probably healthy, and I'm toying with a script for a musical adventure that will allow me to inflict it on hapless players. Definitely a theme song for a cheerful, willfully malicious villain.

Still Alive is also a great villain song. I'm torn between it and the Imperial March. I love both, but for such utterly different reasons that I'm unable to weigh one against the other.
#23
Old 06-05-2011, 09:59 PM
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Oooh, I just thought of a good one: The theme from Halloween for Michael Myers.
#24
Old 06-05-2011, 10:06 PM
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Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain as used in Fantasia.

If you aspire to be Evil Incarnate, THIS is the type of theme song you want!
#25
Old 06-06-2011, 01:51 AM
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The first and only one that came to mind was the great music Rosza wrote for the 1946 version of "The Killers" (not the 1964 one, which is also awesome). Couldn't find a good YouTube of just the exact moment when "you know" when "it's" going to "happen" -- DON'T.

Rosza "Prelude"
#26
Old 06-06-2011, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Lasciel View Post
For non-theatrical-release villains, GlaDOS' ending song in Portal. Very nice. "we do what we must, because we can." Such a good song.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ljFaKRTrI
I like her song from the sequel (spoilers for Portal 2, obviously). It helps that Jonathan Coulton was able to write this song with the actress's singing range in mind, as opposed to "Still Alive" which he wrote ahead of time. Still, neither one is really a "theme song" for her, I think. Or at least, not a Leitmotif, as the Imperial March is for Darth Vader.

I'm also fond of the Klingons' theme from the Star Trek movies (it of course also becomes their heroic theme from time to time on TNG, when they are allies with the Federation).
#27
Old 06-06-2011, 09:32 AM
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For several hours yesterday I tried to find a YouTube clip that would have enough of that little "dahn-dahn-dahnnan-dahn" thing that I could point to it and say "that's it" -- all with no luck so far. But I did find some things that make me a little ashamed to say that I don't know all that much about Native American music.

Despite this being off-topic of the current thread, maybe it will strike others the way it has me: Native American Indian Spiritual Music - Ceremony to Mother Earth.

I haven't given up trying to find that little whatever-it-is.
#28
Old 06-06-2011, 09:50 AM
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I instantly got the Cruella de Vil song from 101 Dalmatians in my head. How many villians have a song about themselves?

What about the strange whoosh/hiss/swoosh/wheeze/whatever noise in Friday the 13th? Does that count as a theme?
#29
Old 06-06-2011, 10:30 AM
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Goldfinger. I can't think of another Bond villain with as memorable a theme
#30
Old 06-06-2011, 10:43 AM
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There's the Man With the Golden Gun. I'm partial to that one as it's a bit more upbeat.

I also like the Saruman/Isengard theme from the Lord of the Rings movies, with that heavy syncopated drumbeat.
#31
Old 06-06-2011, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raguleader View Post
I like her song from the sequel (spoilers for Portal 2, obviously). It helps that Jonathan Coulton was able to write this song with the actress's singing range in mind, as opposed to "Still Alive" which he wrote ahead of time. Still, neither one is really a "theme song" for her, I think. Or at least, not a Leitmotif, as the Imperial March is for Darth Vader.
I actually like this song better than "Still Alive" - as I believe I mentioned in another thread, I think it works fantastically as a breakup song for a bad relationship. A really, really bad relationship.
#32
Old 06-06-2011, 10:58 AM
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It's not specifically a villain theme song, but I pretty strongly associate the opening of "Tubular Bells" with Bad Stuff Going Down.
#33
Old 06-06-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
It's not specifically a villain theme song, but I pretty strongly associate the opening of "Tubular Bells" with Bad Stuff Going Down.
How about Carmina Burana ~ O Fortuna | Carl Orff ~ André Rieu
#34
Old 06-06-2011, 12:38 PM
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The music from David Warner's pocket watch in Time After Time.
#35
Old 06-06-2011, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
Except that just as often, that piece indicates that the Good Guys are about to Kick Some Ass, as in its first documented appearence in a major motion picture.
#36
Old 06-06-2011, 01:04 PM
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Dr. Horrible had some kick-ass songs he sung.
#37
Old 06-06-2011, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Except that just as often, that piece indicates that the Good Guys are about to Kick Some Ass, as in its first documented appearence in a major motion picture.
Good point. I was thinking more of The Omen soundalike and how that piece is even used as motivational music at football games! Same with the Darth Vader thing.

I know there must be other "theme songs" for Satan and other demons but I'm having trouble remembering the specifics. The Exorcist and The Omen are closely related in my mind's ear.
#38
Old 06-06-2011, 02:54 PM
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Everybody knows the Wicked Witch of the West's theme!
#39
Old 06-06-2011, 09:32 PM
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"The Great Race". Professor Fate. Push the button, Max
#40
Old 06-07-2011, 08:03 PM
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darth vader? the shark? nah. brutus' entry into any popeye scene always changes the whole mood for that day.
#41
Old 06-08-2011, 09:05 AM
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In Fritz Lang's "M", when you hear Hans Beckert whistling "In the Hall of the Mountain King" you know he's about to do something very, very bad.
#42
Old 06-08-2011, 11:58 AM
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"Attack Of The Blue Meanies" (George Martin, form the Beatles Yellow Submarine album.)


.
#43
Old 06-08-2011, 10:49 PM
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"The March of the Villains" is Lex Luthor's theme song in Christopher Reeve's Superman movies.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=moA6RGE_MzM

On Garfield and Friends in the late 1980s, there were some "US Acres" segments about barnyard animals living on a farm. I never liked these segments all that much, but once in a while Orson the pig's mean older brothers would show up to the tune of "In the Hall of the Mountain King."
#44
Old 06-08-2011, 11:28 PM
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Best villain music; Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme)
Worst villain music; The Haunting "Torgo" theme
#45
Old 06-09-2011, 05:32 PM
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What about when you get to be the villain? Nothing prepares for turning your opponent's monsters into skellies quite like the Necropolis Theme from Heroes of Might and Magic III.
#46
Old 06-10-2011, 10:16 AM
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If operas count, I'd say Scarpia singing Tre Sbirri in Tosca.

The theme is epic (far more beautiful than the lyrics), and the meshed in church choir and cannon fire from the castle adds to the epicness.
#47
Old 06-10-2011, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheerleading Dropout View Post
Alternatively, what is a good song that sounds like it should be a villain's theme music, and what type of villain would it go with?
Megamind was great for that:

Back in Black
Highway to Hell
Crazy Train
Bad to the Bone
Welcome to the Jungle


Perhaps a bit obvious, but it was great.
#48
Old 06-10-2011, 10:50 AM
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Not a villain*, but the "Bad to the Bone" usage in T2 was exceptionally awesome, seeing as, y'know, his bones were by far the baddest thing about him.




*But, of course, you only knew that if you'd seen the trailer. Damn trailers.
#49
Old 06-10-2011, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ultrafilter View Post
A++, would quote again.

One Winged Angel is my spine-tingling favorite villain music.

On the cheesy side, I absolutely love Ghaleon's theme. So 90s and so wonderful.

On the moody side, Shadow of Doubt. Dark, but not obviously HEY GUYZ THIS IS A VILLAIN'S THEME
#50
Old 06-12-2011, 12:51 PM
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The Axe Gang theme from Kung Fu Hustle. (fast fwd to 2:00 and try to ignore the awful dubbing)
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