Everyone knows that villains have the most fun -- until they get caught, at least. Disney villains also get some of the best songs in the studio’s films, and Disney Villains: Simply Sinister Songs gathers some of the classic tunes sung by baddies in all their wicked glee. The collection presents tunes from 1941’s Dumbo to 2009’s The Princess & the Frog in chronological order, touching on major and minor Disney films along the way. While Dumbo’s “Pink Elephants on Parade” technically isn’t sung by a villain -- the pachyderms in question are champagne-induced hallucinations -- it certainly is spooky. It’s still one of the most avant-garde songs to appear in a Disney film, a surreal jazz march with unsettling tempo shifts and ever-changing instrumentation that shows the dark side of Disney let the studio’s creativity run rampant. The Jungle Book’s “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” is another triumph, with Louis Prima giving the greedy orangutan King Louie a voice for his irresistible jazzy nonsense. Indeed, many of the best songs here are shaped by jazz. The Princess and the Frog’s “Friends on the Other Side” has a Cab Calloway flair that matches the film’s ‘20s setting perfectly, while The Nightmare Before Christmas’ “Oogie Boogie’s Song” borrows from hot jazz and cabaret for a stylized swagger. Disney Villains: Simply Sinister Songs also runs the gamut of wrongdoers. Lady & the Tramp’s “Siamese Cat Song” provides the indelible theme to the film’s mostly mischievous felines, while The Little Mermaid’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is the musical calling card of soul-stealing sea witch Ursula. Not every song here is a classic: “Every Little Piece,” from Pete’s Dragon, offers a rather tedious laundry list of folk remedies with dragon as the main ingredient, and Home on the Range’s “Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo” is fun but not especially memorable. However, the collection does offer a hidden gem in “Snuff Out the Light (Yzma’s Song).” Cut from the first Emperor’s New Groove film, it was going to be used in a third movie, but Yzma’s voice Eartha Kitt died before it could be made. While Disney Villains: Simply Sinister Songs might be missing a few worthy cuts, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s “Hellfire” (which may be too sinister for this collection with its themes of lust and sin), it’s still a solid retrospective of Disney’s dark side.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares