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Descent Into Darkness Song
A song that starts out pretty but then descends into dark tones.


(permanent link) added: 2012-05-06 07:34:52 sponsor: SeptimusHeap (last reply: 2012-11-23 07:34:24)

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This is part of the Trope Repair Shop thread. Starting with portions of the page that is getting cut.

You know how sometimes you're listening to a pretty chipper song, and you think it's gonna stay that way? Sometimes it doesn't. That's what you call the descent into darkness. A Descent Into Darkness Song is a song that changes its tone, slowly or quickly, into something much darker. The evolution of the music can involve modulating from a major key to a minor one as shorthand for a darker style.

If there are words which are consistantly upbeat, there may be Lyrical Dissonance at the end; the inverse is also true if they're depressing throughout it. If in a musical, it can be a positive song that becomes sinister when the heroes leave. If the song is wholly cheerful but later sung tragically, you have a Dark Reprise. This can be a form of Villain Song.

Examples:

  • The Once-ler's Villain Song from The Lorax seems fine and dandy for most of the song. That is until he starts talking about not caring if a few trees are dying, while you see him destroying said trees with the soundwaves from his guitar. Not only does the song get so much darker, his voice gets a distinct malevolent echo at the end.
  • "The End", by The Doors, famously starts off as a ponderous musing about the nature of finality. However, eventually the imagery shifts into describing a masked killer grappling with the desire to kill, and then killing, his own parents. Afterwards, the tempo builds up to the end, creating a mesmerizing climax.
  • Bill Bailey has an OTT Obsession Song that starts a bit depressed. Only a bit, mind you. Then it goes serenely upbeat and joyous, followed by being unbelievably angry and unhappy.
  • The Flight of the Conchords song "Petrov, Yelyena, and Me": The lyrics get more disturbing as the singer catches on that Petrov and Yelyena are eating him piece-by-piece.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the "Little Boy, You're Going to Hell!" song that plays when poor Kenny, well, goes to Hell.
  • Helen Reddy's hit "Angie Baby" (written by Alan O'Day) which starts out okay, being about a "touched" girl who uses her radio to keep her company. It soon turns to the girl having to be removed from school and eventually to the subject of potential rape and the vague aftermath that results in the disappearance of the young man, leaving the listener to wonder whether he was killed by Angie with something maybe worse (since Angie has "a secret lover who keeps her satisfied") or she's just imagining him still there.
  • Several songs by Stephen Lynch. "Superhero" starts with describing various superheroes kids might want to be before turning into a diatribe against his unfaithful wife who now lives in Hawaii with a doctor, dumping him with three kids and no job. For those interested - song here.
  • 'Princess of December' from UFO Princess Valkyrie. Starts out as a romantic song of eternal love and devotion, sung by the titular Valkyrie, only for it to be hijacked halfway through by her Shadow Archetype, Valkyrie Ghost, who turns it into a heart-wrenching song of loneliness and despair. It's one of the first hints that the Dark Valkyrie is actually a tragic figure, rather than the out-and-out villain she first appear to be. You can hear it here.
  • "More Gun" from Meet The Engineer? It starts off as a calm campfire song but VERY quickly turns harsh and ends up sounding like a western duel song. If you are interested, here it is.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the Clock Town theme. It starts out rather upbeat enough, as the town is mostly going about its business and the townspeople blissfully ignorant that anything's wrong. Sure, the moon is up there glaring at them, but it's way out there. What's it gonna do? The next day, the moon is demonstrably closer than its original position, and that night, closer still. The music is slightly darker to accomodate. Then, by the third day, the music is outright apocalyptic, since the townspeople have all but fled or given up in terror, and the moon is so close it looks like it could cleanse the planet with one strong snort.
  • In Friendship is Witchcraft Pinkie Pie's orphanage song does this. It begins as a happy song, but then Pinkie starts singing about how unworthy she is.
  • "I Believe" from Spring Awakening has its tone darken as the two leads transition from kissing to ambiguously consensual sex.
  • An instrumental example, Rude Awakening, No. 2 by Creedence Clearwater Revival starts out mellow but becomes more and more spooky as the song goes on.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo's "Hellfire" song counts as a Dark Reprise of "Heaven's Light", but it also counts alone as this trope. A sacred chant leads into the song, With composure, Frollo sings to the Virgin Mary, "You know I am a righteous man..." and then the song gets darker as he sings of how desire for Esmeralda tempts him. The accompanying chants turn ominous, and Frollo pictures himself condemned. He concludes: "She'll be mine or she will burn!"

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