Disney is and will always remain synonymous with wholesome family entertainment. Fluffy animal characters who can dance and sing. Colorful backgrounds recreate a whole new world. Literature and myths blended perfectly to create the best moral stories one has ever heard. Everything has a happy ending. But a closer look reveals that several Disney movies have taken a dark turn with the unsettling moments and songs. These songs and situations force you to think, ‘Creepy, is it really meant to be part of a kids movie?’
Some songs are deliberately designed to be dark and disturbing while others being uncharacteristically creepy. No matter how dark and/or depressing the songs and situations are, there is one common string that keeps them connected. These songs are all a part of the impressive Disney movie family.
Here’s a quick look into the darkest songs showcased in several Disney classics:
5. Poor Unfortunate Souls – The Little Mermaid (1989)
‘Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
They come flocking to my cauldron
Crying, "Spells, Ursula, please!"
And I help them? Yes I do’
This song from The Little Mermaid is sung to Ariel by the sea witch, Ursula. The song is visualized on the situation where Ursula persuades Ariel to trade her voice in exchange of being turned into a human, temporarily. The movie is otherwise a colorful portrayal of a beautiful underwater kingdom. But this song rendered a combination of Broadway Theatre with Burlesque-style alongwith the visualization makes the song and situation send chills down your spine.
4. Mother Knows Best – Tangled (2010)
Trust me, pet
Mother knows best
Mother knows best
Listen to your mother
It’s a scary world out there
Mother knows best
One way or another
Something will go wrong, I swear
Poison ivy, quicksand
Cannibals and snakes
Mother Gothel, or say witch Gothel, sings this frightening song to her daughter Rapunzel in the 2010 Disney movie, Tangled. Based on Rapunzel, in this song the little one wants to leave the tower, where she is trapped for years, and wants to explore the world outside. But the antagonist Gothel has no intentions of letting her go. Though Mother Gothel sings, "soon, but not yet", but ironically later says, "Rapunzel will never leave the tower ever." The very thought of staying locked up in a room for a day is spooky, poor Rapunzel has been in the tower forever. Surprisingly, this song is very similar to the song ‘Out There‘ from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
3. Savages – Pocahontas (1995)
‘Is there nothing I can do?
Will this really be the end?
Is it only death that waits
Just around the riverbend?’
The song ‘Savages‘ from Pocahontas takes place when the movie is at its crucial pinnacle. The natives and English settlers are on the cusp of a war, ready to kill or die. The intensity of the lyrics, for example: ‘They’re just a bunch of filthy, stinking…’ will make one realize the racism and imperialism Native Americans had to go through. Though the movie ended on a happy note, but this song remains one of the darkest song in the history of Disney movies. With a striking resemblance to ‘The Mob Song‘ in Beauty and the Beast (1991), the theme revolves around the fact that the main antagonist exploits the fear of the unknown for his men to achieve ulterior motives.
2. Be Prepared – The Lion King (1994)
‘Scar: Just listen to teacher
I know it sounds sordid
But you’ll be rewarded
When at last, I am given my dues
And injustice deliciously squared
Scar/Hyena Clan: Be prepared!’
In several Disney movies the lead characters’ parents are either not there or are dead. But for the first time ever in Disney’s history a lead character, Mufasa’s death was portrayed on the silver screen. It was not the death that mattered alone, but also the fact that Simba was blamed for the death of his father. And this is followed by the villain song of the movie, ‘Be Prepared‘. The intense visuals including diverse background colors, hyenas marching and the scary shadows all sum up to one fact. As Scar takes up the throne, one must be prepared for days that are dreary and rife with darkness.
1. Hellfire – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
‘Don’t let the siren cast her spell
Don’t let her fire sear my flesh and bone
And let her taste the fires of Hell!
Or else let her be mine and mine alone’
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the darkest film to be made in the Disney studios. Yet it is one of the best movies and a timeless classic. ‘Hellfire‘ is a song sung by the main villain of the movie, Judge Claude Frollo. The song portrays two major themes not suitable for a kid’s film – Hell and Lust. The sequence expresses Frollo’s feelings for Esmeralda through intense visuals including provocative dancing fire images. The song indicates imminent doom and a depressed judge’s sexual frustrations.
Several Disney movies have subtly explored social taboos. But even today no matter how many dark situations are portrayed in animated films, Disney is one name that flashes through most individuals’ minds when animation is talked about. Let’s forget about darkness and gloominess and enjoy the cute animated escapade every Disney movie offers.