Top 10 Spookiest Disney Songs
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
We're always spooked when these Disney songs come out to socialize. For this list, we'll be looking at the most haunting and eerie tunes from Disney live-action media and animations. Our countdown includes "Maleficent," "Fantasia," "Hocus Pocus," and more!
Top 10 Spookiest Disney Songs
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Spookiest Disney Songs.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most haunting and eerie tunes from Disney live-action media and animations.
Which Disney tune sends chills up your spine? Let us know in the comments.
#10: “The Headless Horseman”
“The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” (1949)
Here’s a tale that had us all hiding under the covers as kids: The legend of the Headless Horseman. Perhaps for many of us, our fears began with this scene where Ichabod’s rival of sorts, Brom, tries to spook him with a musical retelling of the mythical folklore. Sure, the tune is upbeat and jazzy, but that doesn’t make the actual lyrics any less terrifying. Who was Brom trying to scare exactly? His adversary or the young viewers watching this scene in horror? And the terror of this song is only matched by the scene where Ichabod ends up encountering the fabled being and mysteriously disappears… Should we tell Disney their audience is made up of kids or…?
#9: “Friends on the Other Side”
“The Princess and the Frog” (2009)
Is there a more slick villain in modern Disney animation than the beguiling and tricky Doctor Facilier? The smooth-talking voodoo man lures in an unsuspecting Prince Naveen with promises of “green”. (Honestly, the lack of specificity here probably should’ve been the first red flag.) This dazzling showstopper fills us with intrigue as Facilier uses a captivating melody and spectacular bright imagery to distract us from his true intentions. By the time the song reaches its climax, you’re too busy dancing along to realize that you’re now tapping feet that are green and webbed! This devilishly deceptive number is among the film’s finest, even if it is exceptionally sinister. Fortunately, it also comes with an other-worldly reprise.
#8: “Heffalumps and Woozles”
“Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” (1968)
Even the Hundred Acre Wood isn’t exempt from creepy caricatures. In 1968’s “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,” Tigger tells his honey-loving pal about these creatures known to steal his favorite sweet treat. A trippy nightmare sequence follows as Pooh frets about this newly discovered threat. You have to wonder just what went on in the animators room before such a psychedelic scene came to fruition. Watching Winnie the Pooh tormented by the shape-shifters is a haunting sight for children and the very essence of the melody feels like some sort of cautionary tale. It was spooky enough to put us off honey for life!
#7: “Poor Unfortunate Souls”
“The Little Mermaid” (1989)
Ursula's classic number is among Disney's most iconic villain songs. It's catchy and spellbinding, but also incredibly ominous. Like Doctor Facilier, this sea witch uses her charms to convince an unassuming royal to make a dark deal. This song is even more sly and conniving than our young ears realized back in the day. We were too busy singing along to notice how Ursula's carefully chosen words pulled the veil over our eyes, but she never actually lied about who she was. At its core, "Poor Unfortunate Souls" has a chilling message, but the melody is as alluring as Ursula's promise to Ariel. Villains really do get the best songs.
#6: “Once Upon a Dream”
In 2014, Disney reinterpreted the story of “Sleeping Beauty”; this time from the point of view of its villain, Maleficient. This darker reimagining needed a fitting theme song, and what better choice than a spooky rendition of the original’s standout number? Featuring Lana Del Rey’s soporific vocals, the song took on a more melancholy sound that deviated quite a bit from its source material. “Spin,” an American music magazine, described it as a “haunting lullaby.” Indeed, it never fails to send chills creeping up our spines or make our hair stand on end. You just know that this “Once Upon a Dream” won’t be followed by a happily ever after.
#5: “Be Prepared”
“The Lion King” (1994)
In one of Disney’s most sinister songs, Scar rallies the hyenas in preparation for a dark new era where he’s the king. This is literally a song about plotting to fatally (and literally) overthrow his brother, yet it’s so catchy! Now that’s scary. It oozes pure evil, and as many have noted, the scene’s overall vibe is reminiscent of one of history’s darkest periods. Even the comic relief provided by the hyenas isn’t enough to distract from how twisted and intimidating it all is. Still, we feel almost compelled to bop along. Is it any wonder that Timon and Pumbaa chose to skip this part in “The Lion King 1 ½ ”?
#4: “Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria”
A song doesn't need lyrics to scare the living daylights out of its listeners. Anyone who's seen "Fantasia" can tell you that. Saving the scariest for last, this segment, set to composer Modest Mussorgsky's dramatic melody, is brimming with nightmarish characters. As if Chernabog, the god of evil, isn't horrifying enough, the backdrop of Mussorgsky's powerful and striking music only heightens our terror. There's no denying this scene is an animated masterpiece, and the majestic and intimidating tune complements the artistry perfectly — even if we had to sleep with the lights on for a little while after.
#3: “This Is Halloween”
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
A song about a town inspired by Halloween? What could be more haunting than that? We could’ve chosen any number of songs from the iconic 1993 animation. “Jack’s Lament” is moody and ghostly, while “Oogie Boogie’s Song” is downright petrifying. However, nothing puts us more in the Halloween spirit than the film’s opening number, “This Is Halloween.” Despite its ominous and mischievous lyrics, there’s something wonderfully festive about the tune, which introduces us to the town’s ghoulish residents. We meet the monsters who live under our beds and in our closets, among other familiar hair-raising characters. Burton essentially listed all our nightmares and compiled them into one spook-tacular song.
#2: “I Put a Spell on You”
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)
While Sarah Sanderson's magnetic lullaby, "Come Little Children," is unnervingly eerie, there's another song from this bewitching classic that never fails to cast its magic over us. “I Put a Spell on You” got a poppy makeover, which Marc Shaiman specifically arranged for Bette Midler. She gives such an enchanting performance that it's no wonder she has the party-goers and audience under her spell. It's so enthralling you almost forget that the Sanderson sisters are total witches. The scariest part of this whole thing is that this scene almost didn't happen. Producer David Kirschner needed more convincing that a musical number would fit the film's tone. Luckily, the Sanderson sisters managed to put their spell on him too!
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Cruella de Vil,” “101 Dalmatians” (1961)
“If She Doesn’t Scare You No Evil Thing Will” – It’s Right There in the Lyrics!
“Grim Grinning Ghosts,” “The Haunted Mansion” (2003)
These Guys Sure Know How to Have a Ghoul Time!
“The Horned King,” “The Black Cauldron” (1985)
The Track of Our Nightmares
“The Mob Song,” “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)
There’s Little Scarier than Mob Mentality
“Trust in Me,” “The Jungle Book” (1967 & 2016)
Both Renditions of This Song Are Eerily Hypnotic
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)
As one of Disney's most mature and emotionally intense songs, it's no surprise that it once left the entire film's fate in the balance. Incorporating themes like lust, sin, damnation, and hell, the song and its attached visuals underwent numerous alterations to maintain the film's coveted G-rating. Naturally, it garnered plenty of media attention – the likes of which either praised its beauty or condemned its subject matter. Still, it’s a spine-tingling and breathtaking experience as we head down a deep dark hole into the psyche of one of Disney's most multidimensional and complex villains. The hauntingly stunning melody is striking and a perfect contrast to Quasimodo's "Heaven's Light."