The Generic Villain Sings

Yes, I’m well aware that in the media the Management usually caters to, this is unlikely to come up, but I’ve seen enough fellow Hands of Darkness trip over this concept that I find myself obligated to comment on. The issue is the villain song.

The idea? Simple. We’re stuck in a world where every major event gets a music number. Unless we’re the very rare one who has too much dignity to just randomly break into song, or particularly to break up in song in front of an audience that will often also double as backup signers in a pinch, we sing too. And being the coolest characters in the narrative, we don’t just sing. We realize that this here is an opportunity to demonstrate who we are—how awesome, how conflicted, what amazing planners, what expert manipulators, how we perfectly envision the future we want and the plans we have to reach it. We are people of extremes and we take advantage of it. The villain song is the one meaningful battle against the heroes in which we are allowed, nay, even encouraged to win.

In theory. In practice, with disturbing regularity someone drops the ball and delivers a hearty rendition of “I love kicking puppies! I have a Freudian Excuse! I’m gonna eat your face!”

Honestly, people, no. I know, they remember a lot of important things with the villain song. Things like “keep it in a vocal range in which you’re actually comfortable”, “make it visually spectacular” (okay, people drop the ball a lot on that too), “take that scenery between your teeth and chew on it”. They (often) remember that being cultured helps, because that gives them an excuse to pull out the really nifty turns of phrase that make the song memorable in a good way. But they forget the most important part.

The thing to remember with a villain song: you are going to pick yourself one quality to concentrate on, and stick to it. It can be your motivation, it can be your plans, it can be your most distinctive quality, it can be that conflict that’s going to destroy you in the last act: with one exception, I don’t care. And the exception? It must not, under any circumstances, be strictly about the fact that you’re evil. That’s reserved for people to sing about you. I don’t mean that it can’t illuminate that you’re evil, mind, but that needs not to be what the song is about. The world is so broken (and it happens that you’re going to mercilessly take it over so you can fix it). This girl is in a bind her goody-two-shoes family can’t help with (and for a price, you’d be glad to… help.) You hate this particular person for what they (or someone like them, or what have you) have done to you. You know something they don’t know. You want—do you ever want—but you do not, perhaps even cannot have—yet. You have a theme. And you are going to sing about it!

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