Tag Archives: songs

Songs for Dad: Animation Style


Tomorrow is Father’s Day so have a Dad Themed meta! What better way to express your love for Dad than with music? There are two Disney songs and one non-Disney song that are Dad centered. Let’s dive in!

Father and Son

In the third Aladdin movie, Aladdin finally met his long lost father. They have a strained relationship on account of Cassim being absent (and the fact that he’s The King of Thieves—minor detail). In this song, Genie tries to help them make some positive progress in their relationship.

aladdin king1aladdin king2

And boy do they need it…

This song is different than the ones we’re gonna talk about because it’s not the kid and parent singing. Instead it is someone else commenting on a father/son relationship.

It’s a big bright beautiful future

Thank you your lucky stars, you’re alive

You’ve got someone special to talk to

A friend that you can trust for life

I love the optimism here, the notion that any relationship can be fixed or mended. Sometimes families become estranged and there’s bad blood there forever, which is just really sad. But Genie is here to tell you that as long as you’re both alive, there’s always a chance things can get better.

The second line also literally relates to Aladdin and Cassim, since Aladdin did think his dad was dead for basically his whole life. Shame on Disney for killing family so often or keeping them alive and separating them.

Next, “special someone to talk to” is a really sweet line. Usually moms are the parent you’re supposed to turn to with your problems because women are more interested in sharing their feelings, but here, dads are friends and trustworthy and they’ll have your back forever. This is similar with the idea that no one will ever love you as much as your family.

You’ve been on your own with no family ties

But those solo days are done

You’ll be two of a kind

Spending quality time

Together as father and son

Again, this stanza starts with referencing the estrangement and this becomes more pronounced as the song goes on. Aladdin and Cassim have both been separated, alone, and while their reconciliation will make them two of a kind since they’ll be together, they already are. They’re both thieves (or, Aladdin was) and they’ve both been alone. They already have things in common. Once they spend some time together, they’ll be able to see how similar they are and become two peas in a pod, basically.

aladdin king cassim

Building model ships

Taking fishing trips

Working hand in hand

Painting the palace and moving the sand

First ten to go, with your daddy-o

Once you break the ice

You can postulate paternal advice

Here is a list of typical “Dad Things.” Building things, fishing, the visuals also show them playing football together. But then we’re back to the estrangement (“break the ice”) and that good can come out of it if they just work through it.

It’s a fine fantobulous future

I see fruit on the family tree

You’ll be great as the grumpy old grand-pa

Bouncing babies on your knee

You can fall asleep on the comfy couch

After playing one on one

Dreaming back to back

That you walloped the Shaq

Together as father and son

There’s a bunch going on here. The Shaq reference at the end again ties back to sports and things Aladdin and his dad can do together. But I like this idea of family continuing to expand and that one day, Aladdin and Jasmine will have kids so not only is Cassim gaining his son, he’s also gaining grandkids and a daughter-in-law and father-in-law. Cassim may have missed all of this with his son, but he gets to watch his son do what he couldn’t and be supportive and have a relationship with him now. Plus he gets to meet his adorable grandkids and love them. Estranged family members miss out on those big moments in life when they let things get in the way. The genie does not want that for Aladdin and Cassim.

Maybe a bumpy ride

We’ll make it side by side

Good afternoon, I’ll be your travel guide

Move over, laddie,

Make room for Daddy

Gotta whole new shoulder to cry on

“Bumpy ride” takes us back to the fact that this isn’t gonna happen overnight. There’s probably a lot of anger, resentment, and sadness to work through. All relationships take time. They’re messy. They’re hard and painful. But the benefits, like gaining someone to build model ships with. 😉

We talked about earlier how a father here gets to be someone you can talk to and in this stanza we also see he’s a shoulder you can cry on. That’s really nice, especially to tell boys. Our society conditions boys not to cry, which is really damaging. This song includes all the masculine things like sports and fishing and also says you can talk and you can cry and that’s perfectly normal. Props to you, Disney. You did something good.

Take a chance now give it a spin

You’ve had chums for palin’ around with

But you’ve never had a friend like him

Put your checkered past behind you now

No more living on the run

Face the big bright beautiful future

Together as father and son

We’ve reached the end! So let’s just start with the callback to movie one, Friend Like Me. The song purposefully classifies family and friends differently. We like to say friends are the family you choose for yourself, or friends feel like family, but there’s also the saying blood is thicker than water. And since this is a song about how awesome a relationship with your dad is, of course, they’re going with the latter.

aladdin king end

We end right back where we started, with the future and all the possibilities that lie ahead. The estrangement and isolation doesn’t need to be permanent. They just need to make the choice.

On My Father’s Wings

Our next song selection is from Quest for Camelot. This one is different from above since Kayley sings this just after her father has died. What you need to know is: Kayley adored her father. Her dad = who she wanted to be. So now her hero has literally died/been murdered. This is where Kayley affirms her mission to live up to the man her father was, to be like him, to remember him.

camelot 25

This song is very straightforward. The visuals are really what matters. Kayley goes back to the beach she used to visit her with dad. She draws the symbol of the knights, the three intertwined rings, and actually has a flashback to when they would play together.

camelot father's wings camelot father's wings2

Quest for Camelot is all about Kayley wanting to be a knight, but being told she can’t because she’s a girl. Her father was the only person that believed she could be a knight and when she loses him, she doesn’t know how to escape society’s expectations, but knows she still wants to.

camelot 27

And I will fly on my father’s wings

To places I have never been

There is so much I’ve never seen

And I can feel his heart beat still

And I will do great things

On my father’s wings

This world I’ll never see

My dreams that just won’t be

This horse’s stride, with one day’s ride

Will have covered more distance than me

Kayley still feels her father with her, which is a beautiful message about the people we love never leaving us.

Someday, with his spirit to guide me

And his memory beside me

I will be free

To fly on my father’s wings

To places I have never been

Kayley is trapped tending a farm, what she’s supposed to do. So she turns it into an adventure, using the pitchfork as pole vault, a jousting stick, and finally hitting the bulls eye with it. She uses a spoon and bucket cover as a sword and shield.

camelot father's wing

Kayley’s inspiration to be a knight stems from her father. If he wasn’t her father, she seriously would not be the person we see on film.

camelot 4camelot 5

This tells us that dads matter so much to the development of a child. Even Aladdin was affected by not having a father since earlier in the film he tells Jasmine that he feels like he comes from nowhere, like he just appeared out of thin air. Even in movie one he hated being referred to as a street rat, like he was worthless. He didn’t have a father in his life to take care of him or build up his self-esteem like Kayley did.

Nobody Else But You

Do you remember this Goofy Movie tune? I did not. (Props to Mel for reminding me!)

Before the song starts, Max and Goofy are mid-fight and they are really going at it. Max resent being treated like a kid, but to Goofy, Max is his kid. Goofy’s just trying to figure out what his role is now that Max is growing up and doesn’t want him around as much. Cue the sad feels.

goofy movie fight

But then the song starts and all the happy feels! They totally make peace and love each other to bits.


There are times you drive me, shall we say, bananas

And your mind is missing, no offense, a screw

Still, whatever mess I land in

Who is always understandin’?

Nobody else but you


Oh, your moodiness is now and then, bewilderin’

And your values may be, so to speak, askew

I love how it’s Max that makes the effort to go first and it takes him a few tries to get it going. Goofy and Max both have their differences, but none of that really matters in the long run. Family and dads in particular, are there for you when you mess up. Say you impersonate a pop star to get the girl and then tell her you know that pop star and will be on stage at his concert and give her a shout out and then have to highjack your father/son bonding trip to make it happen.

Goofy, for his part, is just dealing with what all parents do: that shift that happens when kids become teenagers. Parents have a hard game to play because they need to give their kids space to learn on their own, figure out who they are, and let them make their own choices. Teenage years are that inbetween phase and it’s hard for everyone involved.

goofy movie always my son

Nobody else but you

It’s just our luck

We’re stuck together

Nobody else but you

Is crazy enough to believe we’ll come through

Parents pretty much always have your back. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, sometimes my mom flat out has to tell me, “I’m always on your side.” We don’t get to pick our parents and parents do not get to pick their kid. It really is luck, pretty much, that got us here. That’s what family is. There are hard times and confusing times and sad times, but family are the people you’re always supposed to have in your corner. They’re automatically there for you.


So your jokes are all, let’s face it, pre-historic 


And your music sounds like monkeys in a zoo


But when life becomes distressin’

Who’ll I be S.O.S’in? 

See, your automatic. They’re who you call when shit goes to hell. No matter what your differences, big or small, material or moral, you’re stuck with them so suck it up. No, kidding. But it’s nice. Sadly, not everyone does have their automatic. But adoptive parents and siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles and even good friends can be that automatic, too. Because really, it was luck you got them, too.

goofy movie hug


Hard times we’ve had a few


Like we’re thrown in the drink


Like we’re tossed outta town


But when I start to sink, than I’d rather go down

With nobody else but Y-O-U!

The visuals here have them actually sinking since they get sucked in a whirlpool, which is a silly animation touch. This ending section is pretty much everything I’ve been saying. Like Aladdin and Cassim and their hard times, Goofy and Max have had something more akin to ‘normal problems’ but if all you have are ‘normal problems’ then well… they feel like big problems. But both pairs of fathers and sons were able to work it out in the end. Cause, family.

goofy movie dancing bigfoot


In what was probably the cheesiest meta in AM history…

No, but seriously. Okay all these songs are nice and all, but why are they all between fathers and sons? There are way more daughter/dad duos in animation. Especially in Disney with their KILL THE MOM fetish. That leaves so many princesses with fathers (Snow White, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, & Pocahontas) (Aurora, Hercules, Mulan all had moms also, but their dads arguably played a much larger role in their stories.) The Lion King was also largely about Mufasa and Simba, while Sarabi had a very minor role. If you go the Pixar route, look at The Incredibles which yes, featured a family, but the dad had the biggest storyline.

Turn to Dreamworks and The Croods is about a family, but again largely revolves around the father character. Even in the Shrek franchise we meet Fiona’s dad and Shrek 2 is largely about Shrek and Fiona’s dad finding common ground. How to Train Your Dragon finds Hiccup without a mother, though this is rectified in part two (so amazing), but the dad so far has played a much larger role in the story. Maybe this will be different in movie 3 (if we get one/are we getting one?).

From other studios, we have Despicable Me, which focuses on a foster/adoptive father. Could Gru have been a woman? In The Swan Princess, Odette’s mother dies in the very beginning and though her father dies a bit later into the film, she was still raised by him and seemingly close. Look at how many more father figures feature prominently in animated movies. Anastasia is mostly about Anya and her grandma, but in the beginning, before it all goes to shit, Anya dances with her father and then imagines dancing with him again in Once Upon a December.

While I am unhappy with the lack of mom-rep, the amount of dad-rep is overwhelming. So why few songs about dad and family? Why does romance get all the best songs?

However, for the songs we do get, they’re all positive. It’s good. All is happy in animated-dad land. Unless you’re Kayley’s dad.

Happy Father’s Day.

Who is your fave animated dad?

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Disney Villain Songs: Part Two


Welcome back to the Disney Villain Songs Meta. We tackled five songs last week and this time we have four more, plus some other films to discuss.

Last week I told you that Villain Songs didn’t really become a thing until the Renaissance era films, when the storytelling took a shift. The post-Renaissance films have been an odd mix. Some of them sway more Renaissance, while others lean back to more traditional Disney films, where the villain is a deeper theme.

After Pocahontas in 1995, we got The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Lilo & Stitch, The Princess & The Frog, Tangled, and Frozen. Out of those films only Hunchback, Emperor, Frog, and Tangled have Villain Songs.

Hades is definitely a villain of Hercules, constantly trying to keep the son of Zeus from regaining his god status. But the true villain of the film is Hercules’ isolation. He grows up believing he’s a human, where his extreme strength distances him from everyone—dude, he’s like the original Elsa!

hercules alone no one can hurt you

Meg is, too!

When he finds out who he is, that’s when things begin to change and he wants to regain his place among the gods, where he thinks he will belong. The immediate threat to this plan is Hades, so he becomes the physical villain. It’s not until Hercules rescues Meg from the underworld that he truly wins and becomes a hero and realizes he belongs with her and with his friends.

hercules punch hades

You can’t give isolation a song (though Frozen certainly tried, I guess).

Hercules’ need to belong is what is given a song. He gets an I Want song! “Sometimes I feel like I really don’t belong here, like I’m supposed to be someplace else,” he says, just before the song begins. This is the true threat to him. It makes him leave home (“You’re the greatest parents anyone can have, but I gotta know.”) And once he thinks knows where he belongs, he succeeds. He trains and he beats every monster Hades throws at him, trying to fulfill his role as a god. But when Meg gets hurt and is ripped away from him, he knows he belongs with her. That is when he really wins and even attains the status he was looking for.

In Mulan, the physical villain is the army of Huns and their leader. But really, Mulan is about gender roles and what a woman should and shouldn’t do.

mulan reflection

The Huns are always the background threat, driving the plot. Mulan’s storyline is deeper, its villains a society, a way of thinking. Even when Mulan saves the day and is confronted the emperor, she is afraid of his reaction, expecting to be berated for her heroism. I mean, and her destruction of the palace, but details.

mulan fuck you mulan reaction

When Mulan is the sole person that knows the Huns were not defeated, she is scoffed at because she brings the news as a woman. The antagonist of Mulan was never solely the Huns and that is why there is no Villain song.

Tarzan! I love the music in this film so much. I used to play Son of Man on repeat for hours. I loved the growing up montage; it amused me to no end. There’s no Villain Song here since it’s kind of a re-vamp of The Jungle Book. Both films are about boys that grew up away from humanity and are more comfortable with animals. While Mowgli had little interest in man, Tarzan is fascinated with the strangers that look like him.

tarzan man

I’m not sure what I’d call the villain of this film. Kerchak is an obstacle to Tarzan. Clayton is definitely a piece of work and his hunting of the gorillas is horrible. The message is, of course, pro-nature, but I think there’s also something to be said about the notion of home. Once Tarzan learns he’s human and there’s a whole world out there he should be in, he thinks he should leave the jungle. He’s in love, so that also plays a part in his decision. But as Jane finds out, home does not have to be what society expects. Home can be the jungle. I don’t know that I’d call Tarzan a film about finding the strength to be yourself and be open to change, but it certainly plays itself that way.

tarzan and jane swinging

Lilo & Stitch, precious film that it is, is not a musical, though it has some lovely songs in it. So there’s no Villain Song here because of its structure. But if it was a musical, it could easily devote a comedic song to Jumba and Pleakley attempting to catch Stitch. However, as you’re probably tired of hearing, the deeper villain here ties very closely into Tarzan. Stitch finds a home on earth with Lilo. Lilo also aligns very much with Hercules, struggling to figure out where she belongs, feeling isolated from the other girls in her hula class. Nani and Lilo are also grieving for their parents and trying to find a way to relate to each other.

lilo and stich hands

There’s so much more at play beneath the surface of silly alien hunting.

Frozen is erm… we all know Frozen is really about isolation and fear and not loving yourself. I don’t need to spell that out for you. Hence, Hans and his treachery don’t get a song. As Mel eloquently put it to me once, Let it Go is an odd Villain/Empowerment Song.

frozen strugglebus reaction

It speaks to Elsa’s fears and seeks to overcome them, but it really doesn’t since she’s still not in control of her powers. If everything was solved then, we wouldn’t have a movie. Frozen is hard for me to talk about because as I was watching it the first time, I adored it. But the more I think about it, there are things that don’t quite work, didn’t need to be there, etc. Hans is one of them. But the deeper themes of Frozen do not need to be contested and thus, there is no true Villain Song.

Now, onto the films that DO have Villain Songs!


Mel already did an analysis of Hellfire when she wrote about Hunchback and Religion. Let’s switch gears and look at it through the lens of villainy. It’s similar to Gaston, where Frollo sees himself as having done no wrong. Like Ursula did in Poor Unfortunate Souls, he tries to present himself as a saint.

Beata Maria
You know I am a righteous man
Of my virtue I am justly proud

Sorry, Frollo. You are not a righteous dude. And you should not be proud.

peter pan no me gusta reaction

You know I’m so much purer than
The common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd

You’re also not in a place to be insulting people.

Hellfire is Frollo’s confession. He’s torn between his… urges for Esmeralda (I could not say “feelings” because that feels too innocent) and the strict doctrine of his religion. He tries to justify his actions, his burning of Paris to apprehend her. Villains hardly ever see themselves as in the wrong, a case made clear here.

hunchback me or the fire

Frollo has a lot of internal conflict to deal with, perhaps more so than any other Disney villain. His journey is as complex as a hero’s. His beliefs are challenged and instead of shedding his ignorance and hatred, he does not. If Frollo had, he could have easily become the protagonist of this film. Hunchback could have been about a man finding mercy within himself, about seeing how his negative interpretation of religion led to so many horrible crimes. Two roads were set before Frollo in a way no other villain has gotten. Frollo chose wrong.

Like fire
This fire in my skin
This burning
Is turning me to sin
It’s not my fault

Frollo cannot accept blame or responsibility. If he admits he wants Esmeralda, a sinner, then what does that make him? He is no longer a righteous man (he never was, but whatever). So it becomes Esmeralda’s crime. She is the villain. She IS the devil, tempting him.

hunchback frollo witchcraft

Protect me, Maria
Don’t let this siren cast her spell
Don’t let her fire sear my flesh and bone
Destroy Esmeralda
And let her taste the fires of hell
Or else let her be mine and mine alone
Dark fire
Now gypsy, it’s your turn
Choose me or
Your pyre
Be mine or you will burn

Frollo turns to his beliefs for strength. He also turns to them for justification of what he’s about to do.

hunchback hellfire, dark fire

Hellfire is so interesting because it again questions sexism by placing the responsibility on the woman. If a man wants a woman, she has no choice. And if she tempts him, that’s her fault, too. It also represents a deep-rooted inner conflict none of the villains ever had to contend with. Frollo here is clearly torn between what he wants to do. He’s in distress, a quality we’ve never witnessed before. His inner conflict makes him so compelling to watch.

Snuff out the Light

I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you didn’t know The Emperor’s New Groove had a Villain Song in it. That’s because it was deleted and what a mistake! I know why they did—the song is so freakishly amazing and deep it would change the tone of the film. The Emperor’s New Groove is not deep. Snuff out the Light is. I wanted to include this deleted song in the meta because it is wonderful and it’s my meta, so I can.

follow your dreams reactiong

Yzma wants power, like Scar and many villains before her. Unlike most villains, though, Yzma is old, a fact Kuzco can never forget. It seems to diminish her in his eyes. His voiceover when the audience meets her is, “This is Yzma… living proof that dinosaurs once roamed the earth.” Later: “Wow, look at these wrinkles. What is holding this woman together?”
Oh, and here’s the best. When he fires her:

Yzma: But your highness, I have been nothing if not loyal to the empire for many, many years.
Kuzco: Hey everybody hits their stride. You just hit yours fifty years ago.


Kuzco is vain (remember when he had potential wives line up for him?) and Yzma is old and not pretty, so she has to go. Ageism at its finest, folks! Sure, she wasn’t doing a good job, evidenced by her having zero compassion for the peasant that comes to lament about the lack of food, but that is not why she was fired.

With that in mind, lets turn to Snuff out the Light. Listen HERE.

When a woman acquires a certain age
And the men who adored you no longer swoon
It pays to avoid the sunlit days
And live by the light of the kindly moon
But the moon grows old
Just like us all
And her beautiful years are done
So now she prays through endless days
To take her revenge on the sun

This is a song about beauty, the importance of looks, and revenge.

In similar fashion to Villain Songs before, Snuff out the Light provides backstory.

When I was a girl at my daddy’s side
Papa, the royal mortician
Revealed to me in secret signs
The mark of a magician

Yzma’s father was an intelligent man and she learned from him. She prided herself on her knowledge, seeking to one day discover a way to stay young and pretty.

I studied well I learnt the trade
I thought my looks would never fade
If I could find that recipe
To give eternal youth to me

It was always my ambition
To use Papa’s tuition
And gain some small remission
From the vagaries of time

But clearly that has failed her now. She never found it and Kuzco fired her because she reached “a certain age.” She is no longer adored. Like Poor Unfortunate Souls, a woman’s role is again questioned. Is her worth defined by her beauty?

little mermaid the human world is a mess

I’ve really stopped at nothing
Murder, treachery, and lying
Whatever it takes to keep my looks
You really can’t blame a girl for trying

To Yzma, it is. Beauty is everything. I love how Disney always presents these false, negative, and pervasive ideas of womanhood to us in a Villain Song. Ursula thinks it, and as we’ll see, Mother Gothel thinks it. Gaston certainly cares about beauty, it’s the main reason he fixated on Belle (“The most beautiful girl in town! That makes her the best.”). The Evil Queen is obsessed with being the fairest of them all and once a mirror tells her that someone else is the fairest in the land, she flies into a jealous rage.

This song also touches on something I mentioned in Hellfire. Villains don’t see themselves as such. They’re not self-aware. Yzma is very self-aware here. She admits that she’s murdered and lied, so she can’t go back now. She’s in too deep and does not see a way out. That’s such an interesting facet of her character that’s lost by cutting this song.

Friends on the Other Side

This song from The Princess and the Frog reminds me most of Poor Unfortunate Souls. It’s manipulative, meant to coax someone into doing exactly what Dr. Facilier wants.

On you little man, I don’t want to waste much time
You been pushed around all your life
You been pushed around by your mother and your sister and your brother.
And if you was married…
You’d be pushed around by your wife
But in your future, the you I see
Is exactly the man you always wanted to be!

Just like Ariel was putty in Ursula’s hands, Lawrence can’t resist. It’s also interesting to see Lawrence be the one to fall for it since he was staunchly against Naveen going for a reading. Whereas, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel was fully intending to get help from Ursula from the start.

Perhaps one reason The Princess & The Frog isn’t quite as loved is because it feels too safe. We’ve already seen this ploy before. Every previous song has changed the game in some way. Ursula’s was the first, Gaston’s introduced victim-blaming, Jafar’s was a victory song, Scar’s was a plotting song, Ratcliffe’s set up the eventual conflict of the film and featured a cameo by someone considered a hero, Frollo’s was just fucked up, and Yzma’s calls out ageism and those obsessed with beauty. Friends on the Other Side is an intimidation song.

princess and the frog reaction i will end you

Sit down at my table
Put your minds at ease
If you relax it will enable me to do anything I please
I can read your future
I can change it ’round some, too
I’ll look deep into your heart and soul
(you do have a soul, don’t you, Lawrence?)
Make your wildest dreams come true!

I got voodoo
I got hoodoo
I got things I ain’t even tried!
And I got friends on the other side

Massive Ursula vibes, okay! This is basically the male Poor Unfortunate Souls.

And I fortunately know a little magic
It’s a talent that I always have possessed
And here lately, please don’t laugh
I use it on behalf
Of the miserable, lonely, and depressed pathetic

Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them?
Yes, indeed

Dr. Facilier and Ursula both prattling about their magic? Check.
Dr. Facilier and Ursula both talking up their skills? Check.
Dr. Facilier and Ursula both promising to help? Check.

little mermaid ursula lips

Both villains are trying to coerce someone into doing something. They both follow the same structure and involve a transformation, coincidentally. If you’ve noticed Villain Songs have not followed this pattern. They usually involve the villain alone or with their minions lamenting some crime that has been done to them. As a result, Friends on the Other Side is stale and not as memorable as its predecessors.

Mother Knows Best

Finally we come to the last Villain Song. I’m kinda sad, guys. Lets meta the shit out of it.

This song also has lots in common with Poor Unfortunate Souls. It’s a manipulation and an intimidation song, but it stands apart simply because of who the characters are. We have our first abusive parent relationship here. There’s a history between these characters that hasn’t been seen since Frollo and Quasi (the parent/child relationship except the “parent” totally lied to them their whole lives and is not their real parent).

The manipulation tactic here is different, too. Where Ursula and Dr. Facilier both talked up themselves, Mother Gothel talks down to Rapunzel.

Look at you, as fragile as a flower
Still a little sapling, just a sprout
You know why we stay up in this tower
(I know but)
That’s right, to keep you safe and sound, dear

She makes Rapunzel fear her own supposed inability.

tangled fear

She makes Rapunzel feel vulnerable, like she needs Mother Gothel for her own protection.

Mother’s right here
Mother will protect you

Mother is the source of all your problems—I mean—

She uses her position of authority over Rapunzel. There’s an imbalance in the power dynamic between them. Gothel, as the parent, should be seen as a source of love and protection, and she abuses that. Rapunzel trusts her. And like all parent relationships, sometimes guilt is an easy tactic to use to discourage an action:

Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead
Me, I’m just your mother, what do I know?
I only bathed and changed and nursed you

Go ahead and leave me, I deserve it
Let me die alone here, be my guest
When it’s too late, you’ll see, just wait
Mother knows best

She talks down to Rapunzel and then also uses a guilt trip. I think we know who deserves an award for Mum of the Year.

tangled gothel

Where Pocahontas made a daring move and included John Smith in Ratcliffe’s song, Tangled goes ahead and gives Mother Knows Best a reprise! TWO VILLAIN SONGS PEOPLE. TWO. IT ONLY TOOK 9 MOVIES TO DO IT.

Gothel tries to use the same tactics here:

This is why you never should have left
Dear, this whole romance that you’ve invented
Just proves you’re too naive to be here

Again she tries to make Rapunzel doubt herself and talks down to her. But when Rapunzel recoils, she drops the charade.

Oh, I see;
Rapunzel knows best,
Rapunzel’s so mature now,
Such a clever grown-up miss

If we saw her as patronizing before, man, that’s nothing on how she acts now. Her demeanor is haughty, and she’s done talking sweet. She pats her on the head like a pet, spins her around harshly, snaps at her, invades her personal space. The mothering pretense is gone, and now Mother Gothel is just angry that she’s lost control of Rapunzel.

If he’s lying
Don’t come crying
Mother knows best…

Deep down, Gothel is not a mother. She’s not equipped to raise a child, shown here when Rapunzel takes her first steps into independence. Like Gaston, she sees Rapunzel as on object she can possess.

mine reaction


Over the last two posts we’ve looked at a myriad of films. I loved looking at each song and seeing how the Villain Song grew and changed. Even the nature of villains, really, evolved with every film. There were lots of similarities between them, common elements that Disney holds onto, which is why these songs have become classics.

What’s your favorite Disney villain? Do you have a favorite Villain Song? What do you think about villains being people vs ideas? Do you think one is stronger than the other?

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Religion


In our last post, about People of Color in Media, Mic talked about The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the many awesome topics it covers. Now, I could write a lot of metas about this movie, but ultimately, there’s one topic I really wanted to cover: how The Hunchback of Notre Dame deals with religion. This of course means I’ll be talking about the triad of religious ballads – God Help the Outcasts, Heaven’s Light, and Hellfire. I’m also going to take a look at how two of our central characters, Esmeralda and Frollo, view religion, and how their beliefs shine a light on different aspects of religion.

Okay, there’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started! (Quick note: for clarification, when I talk about religion, I’m talking about religion in terms of the movie, which is very Christian/Catholic.)

The Holy Triad of Ballads
We couldn’t talk about religion and Hunchback without talking about those three ballads: God Help the Outcasts, Heaven’s Light, and Hellfire. [Okay, so maybe Hellfire isn’t a ballad, exactly, but work with me here.]

Now, the interesting thing about these three songs is that in a way, they all qualify as “I Want” songs. Granted, Quasimodo’s “I Want” song actually occurs earlier in the movie (the wonderfully triumphant “Out There”), but in a way, “Heaven’s Light” also qualifies. And Heaven’s Light is our starting point for this discussion.

Heaven’s Light and Quasimodo

hunchback heaven-s-light-o
In Heaven’s Light, Quasi (cute nickname, right?) again deals with his angst and self-loathing, and how he feels about Esmeralda. Basically, he’s got a huge crush on her, and thus, has put her on a pedestal:

But suddenly an angel has smiled at me
And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright

I dare to dream that she
Might even care for me

Now, you’re probably like, okay Mel, that’s cute and all, but where does the religious aspect tie in? And I’m getting to that.

The religious aspect ties in because Quasimodo compares Esmeralda’s presence in his life to “heaven’s light,” and Esmeralda herself to an angel. He can’t comprehend that someone might like him for himself, and thus, Esmeralda is like an angel, a ray of light, because who else would love someone as hideous as he? (His words, not mine.)

Unlike Frollo (who we’ll get to in a bit), Quasimodo sees love and affection in a positive light. Look at how he refers to people in love:

So many times out here
I’ve watched a happy pair
Of lovers walking in the night
They had a kind of glow around them
It almost looked like heaven’s light

He uses positive words and phrases: “glow,” “heaven’s light,” “happy pair.” Him relating love to Heaven’s Light means that he views love as a great thing, something beautiful and glorious. It’s a positive take on religion, and it’s Quasimodo’s endearing positivity, even though he grew up in a life of darkness and cruelty and neglect, that endears us to him.

hunchback bells heaven's light

The visuals for Heaven’s Light match this: it’s nighttime, but the stars are shining brightly above Quasimodo. The color palette is made up of softer, cooler colors. There’s a lot of blue especially. Paired with the gentle music and the soft longing in Quasimodo’s voice, it’s very much the typical Disney love song. It’s sweet and charming, which is exactly the purpose. (It should also be noted that Quasimodo looks to the darkening sky, where Heaven would be located.)

Now let’s move to the other end of the spectrum and talk about Frollo.

Hellfire and Frollo

hunchback hellfire, dark fire
Hellfire is the complete opposite of Heaven’s Light. Instead of being cute and semi-heart-warming, it’s beyond creepy and pretty disturbing. Where Heaven’s Light focuses on a sweet crush, Hellfire focuses on bone-chilling lust. And unlike Heaven’s Light, which is filled with positivity and light, Hellfire is filled with darkness and negativity. They’re what I like to call foil songs.

A foil in literature (or any other media, I suppose, like TV/animated movies) is a character who contrasts with another character in order to highlight particular traits of that character. So in terms of Heaven’s Light and Hellfire, love for Esmeralda is being compared between two characters, and it highlights different aspects of the characters. For Quasimodo, it shows how he crushes on Esmeralda despite knowing that she would probably never go for him, and for Frollo, it shows him lusting after Esmeralda.

The key difference here is intent: Quasimodo isn’t some creep who would force himself on Esmeralda. He’s obviously upset when he finds out Esmeralda doesn’t like him (and don’t we all feel that way, when we had a crush on someone and it turns out they don’t feel the same way?), but he gets over it. He’s even happy for Esmeralda and Phoebus when they get together in the end.

Frollo, on the other hand, does not get over it. Quasi idolizes Esmeralda, which isn’t super healthy, but at least he respects her as a person. Frollo definitely does not. Frollo stalks Esmeralda, tries to force his affections on her, and basically tells her to choose him or he’ll burn her to death. Not exactly the traits of a healthy crush, which is why I file Frollo’s emotions under creepy crush.

hunchback me or the fire

Anyway, back to Hellfire. Like I said before, Hellfire is all about lust and denial. Frollo spends the entire song lusting after Esmeralda and denying both his lust for her and other negative aspects of his life (like his religious persecution, killing Quasimodo’s mother, the fact that he’s a horrible person in general…).

Unlike Quasimodo, who drowns in self-loathing, Frollo completely rejects any negative part of himself. Hellfire is filled with so much denial, made ironic by the Latin chanting of the priests in the background. While Frollo goes on about his virtue and righteousness, the priests are speaking of sin. If you solely highlight the translation of the priests’ Latin during Hellfire, it tells a very interesting story:

Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti (I confess to God almighty)
Beatae Mariae semper Virgini (To blessed Mary ever Virgin)
Beato Michaeli archangelo (To the blessed archangel Michael)
Sanctis apostolis omnibus sanctis (To the holy apostles, to all the saints)
Et tibit Pater (And to you, Father)
Quia peccavi nimis (That I have sinned)
Cogitatione (In thought)
Verbo et opere (In word and deed)

The true irony of the priests’ confessional in the background of Frollo’s song is that the priests’ confession is everything Frollo refuses to say about himself. If we look at the movie, Frollo has sinned in many ways. He’s sinned in thought; just look at his lustful thoughts of Esmeralda, and his thoughts of killing Quasimodo as a baby. He’s sinned in word. He’s lied to Quasimodo and treated him as a monster, which seems petty sinful to me, and he threatened Esmeralda in a place of sanctuary. Most importantly, he’s sinned in deed. At this point of the movie, Frollo hasn’t even done his worst, but already, he’s killed Quasimodo’s mother, nearly drowned baby Quasimodo, let a crowd full of people torment Quasimodo…should I go on?

Despite everything he’s done, Frollo refuses to confess his sins, and even when he admits to his lust for Esmeralda, it still isn’t really his fault, it’s hers, because obviously she was just too tempting and how could he resist?

hunchback frollo witchcraft

(Frollo’s excuse for everything, basically.)

He talks about how her hair “is blazing in [him] out of all control,” and compares her to a siren casting her spell on him, painting himself as the innocent party. It can’t possibly be his fault; she’s so attractive, so she must have enchanted him. Even though Esmeralda herself is disgusted by Frollo and tells him so, more than once, Frollo still thinks it’s HER fault that he is hung up on her. Frollo’s viewpoint has always been chilling to me, because he has this “either you’re mine or you’re dead” mentality, which screams stalker/serial killer. His possessiveness of Esmeralda is super creepy, and rightfully shown in that light. Hellfire is his villain song, as well as his creepy “I Want” song: he wants Esmeralda, and he’ll burn down all of Paris if he has to so that he can have her. The visuals only serve to illustrate this further.

Hellfire has a lot of disturbing visuals. Unlike Heaven’s Light, Hellfire is lit with warm colors: reds and oranges from the fire and the red robes of the apparitions of Frollo’s guilt. There’s also the interesting analogy made with Frollo praying into the flames, since fire is often representative of hell. The fact that he actually uses the word “hellfire” cements this.

hunchback hellfirehunchback red robe dudes

Now onto Esmeralda, whose song is the best of the bunch (in my opinion, anyway).

God Help the Outcasts and Esmeralda

hunchback god help the outcasts

Out of all of three songs, Esmeralda’s gorgeous ballad, God Help the Outcasts, is the most focused on religion. (The word God is even in the title!) God Help the Outcasts isn’t about a crush, or a lustful obsession: it’s about prayer of the purest kind. Esmeralda’s prayer, to be precise.

What’s amazing about Esmeralda’s ballad is that it’s about want, but it’s not about herself at all. Heaven’s Light and Hellfire both have a selfish nature to them, because it’s about two different men who want Esmeralda. But all Esmeralda cares about is her people. She doesn’t want anything for herself. Like she says in the song:

hunchback i ask for nothing

Esmeralda can handle herself (as we can see from how awesome she is in the movie).

hunchback esmeralda

She just wants God to step in and help her people, because no one else will, not with Frollo persecuting them and no one willing to stand against him. Her prayer is for them, not for herself, and it’s really beautiful in a selfless way:

But I know so many
Less lucky than I
Please help my people
The poor and downtrod

Esmeralda is actually a really great example of selflessness, in a story that’s filled with so many selfish actions and people. She cares deeply about her people and the persecution that others deal with, and I’ll talk more about why that matters a little later. The point is, she’s incredibly selfless, in a really awesome way, and that’s why her ballad is the strongest in the entire movie.

The music is also really gorgeous. It’s soft, with a quiet pleading to it, and Esmeralda spends so much of the song walking through the church, at peace while she prays. There’s also a divergent color palette for this song. There’s the bright clothing of those in prayer. There are the beautiful stain glass windows. The church is a mix of blues and browns, soft in contrast to the people around it.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t talked a ton about this song, since I just went on a huge ramble about Hellfire. Well, that’s because part of my discussion ties into my finale: aka, how religion is showcased through two of our central characters, Esmeralda and Frollo.

The Righteous Man and The Outcast: Two Sides to Religion
Now, I could’ve called this section Frollo and Esmeralda, instead of using titles, but those two titles have a lot of importance, especially because they’re the titles that the characters give themselves.

Frollo proclaims himself “a righteous man” in Hellfire, when he speaks with Beata Maria. I’m not exactly sure I agree with him, since I think self-righteous would be a better term for him, but it’s Frollo’s mindset, so it’s what he believes himself to be.

Now, righteous basically means “virtuous” or “good.” Let’s take a look at Frollo, and see if we really think he fits the title he’s given himself.

Is Frollo virtuous? He definitely thinks so. He waxes poetic about his virtue during Hellfire, and he certainly seems to hold himself to high standards, but high moral standards? Not so much.

Has he shown that he’s virtuous in any way? Has he done any good deeds to warm our hearts and make us like him? Not really. There’s a rule in writing, called “show, don’t tell,” and Frollo breaks it. He tells people about his virtue – brags about it, even – but he’s never really shown us any virtuous moments.

“But what about that time he saved Quasi from certain death?” you might say. Well, since he was about to drown Quasimodo until the archdeacon stepped in I’d say that doesn’t really count. The only reason he doesn’t kill Quasimodo is because he doesn’t want to feel guilty about it. It’s not because he’s a genuinely good person – it’s all about avoiding unpleasant feelings. Since that doesn’t count, I’d say no, he is not a virtuous man.

Unlike Frollo, who praises himself pretty heavily during his song, Esmeralda is pretty frank and honest about herself. She calls herself an “outcast”, which is true, since gypsies aren’t really well liked over the course of the movie. She also makes a really interesting comparison, during her prayer:

Yes, I know I’m just an outcast;
I shouldn’t speak to You
Still I see Your face and wonder…
Were You once an outcast too?

If you’ve ever read The Bible, then you’ll know that yes, Jesus didn’t exactly have the best experiences on Earth. Like Esmeralda, he was a bit of an outcast as well, and just like Esmeralda almost does toward the end, Jesus is killed by some pretty righteous people. His death is made a spectacle; crucifixion meant that he would be up on a cross for the world to see, his death on display much like Esmeralda’s was in Hunchback of Notre Dame. Of course, Esmeralda’s story in the movie ends with her surviving, but it’s a pretty close call. The comparisons between the two are pretty interesting, as both were outcasts and scorned by the ruling class.

There’s also the interesting fact that both Esmeralda and Frollo are praying in their ballads. They’re pleading in both prayers (although Esmeralda’s is for her people, while Frollo’s is desperate pleading for himself), and there is a tie to Mary in both.

One of the things that caught my attention listening to Hellfire was that Frollo prays to Beata Maria (which translates to Blessed Mary). Out of anyone to speak to, he speaks to the Virgin Mary. Why? Maybe it’s just Frollo’s creepy obsession with virginal women. Or maybe he thinks that out of anyone, Mary would judge him the least. I’m not sure of the answer myself, but it definitely piqued my interest when I listened.

Then, earlier in the movie, there’s Esmeralda’s lovely moment, when she sings to God. However, while she sings to God, the statue she stands in front of is that of Mary holding Jesus. So not only do we have the Jesus comparison from earlier, but we also have Esmeralda in parallel to Mary.

hunchback esmeralda mary and jesus 1 hunchback esmeralda mary and jesus 2

Esmeralda has a very maternal spirit during the movie. She stands up for her people and has a soft spot for people like Quasimodo who have been persecuted unfairly. Take, for example, her reaction when Quasimodo is tormented at the Festival of Fools. She stands up and unties him, standing up against the angry crowd and Frollo. She could’ve done nothing, but Esmeralda isn’t that kind of person.

hunchback injustice

Esmeralda is someone who acts on her virtue and beliefs. And that is where she and Frollo differ, in terms of religion.

Frollo uses religion as an excuse. He uses it as a shield to excuse his actions and persecute those he doesn’t like, for example: the gypsies. There’s a term for this, called religious persecution, and he embodies it. He also uses it to put down others and boost himself up, calling himself “purer than the common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd.” Frollo’s uses of religion are incredibly selfish, whereas Esmeralda’s are very selfless. In opposition to Frollo raising himself above others, Esmeralda is the one to point out: “I thought we all were the children of God”. It’s a nice contrast that shows a lot about their character.

To me, religion at its core has always been about finding guidance. It’s about having something to look up to that fills you with hope, even when the world around you is sometimes dark and bleak. Esmeralda’s prayer is her looking to that light for answers and help for her people. She doesn’t need to prove her faith the way Frollo does. She just believes, and stands by her belief. She doesn’t know if He will listen, or if He will hear her prayers.

But what Esmeralda understands – and what Frollo does not understand – is that at the core of it all, religion isn’t just something bound to only those highest in power. God isn’t someone who cares about your wealth or position, or how ‘righteous’ you proclaim yourself to be. His judgment is about your deeds, about what you do to back up all of those claims. And whereas Esmeralda has done some great, selfless things, Frollo has not. It’s why he looks so fearful when he falls to his death, directly into the hellfire raging below. At the end of his life, Frollo is forced to come face to face with his sins, and it’s not pretty.

Meanwhile, Esmeralda, Quasimodo and Phoebus step out into the light, free of persecution, and free to embrace the rest of their lives. A happy ending for all. (Well, except Frollo.)

I’ll end this with one last parallel:

hunchback god help the outcasts end hunchback hellfire end

The difference is striking, isn’t it? An image speaks a thousand words, and I think these both have a lot to say. All I’m going to say about them is that I think they both sum up each character’s soul quite nicely. Esmeralda’s is bright and spirited; Frollo’s is dark, cold and lonely.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions below, whether they’re about those final two images or anything else I discussed today.

[Note: I’ve known I wanted to talk about Hunchback of Notre Dame and religion for a while now, but it wasn’t until I was cruising through YouTube, listening to some old Disney classics, that I thought about tackling the three more religious songs of the movie. And thus, a meta was born.

[Also, my lyrics came from: http://www.stlyrics.com/t/thehunchbackofnotredame.htm

[I know a lot of these songs by heart, but in cases like looking at the meanings of the Latin in Hellfire, or trying to remember all the words for Heaven’s Light, lyrics sites come in handy.]

Cheers and have a happy Tuesday!