Created By: DrNoPuma on February 1, 2017 Last Edited By: DrNoPuma on February 20, 2017
Troped

Sinister Tango Music

Tango music in fiction is usually creepy or evil.

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trope
Like a few other types of music, tango music is often used in fiction for creepiness. Unlike genres such as jazz and rock, tango music isn't exactly "rebellious". In fact, the reason it is played for creepiness in fiction may be because of how elegant it sounds. The tune itself is tantalizing, captivating, and decadent within its melancholic vibe. It has a syncopated march rhythm, which gives the air of mystery and uncertainty. It helps that it's usually played in a specific chord progression making use of minor chords, which are generally associated with negative things (see the "Multiple Ensemble" section in Mood Motif).

Contrast Creepy Jazz Music, which is also conducive to dancing, and Rotten Rock & Roll.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Addams Family Values has Gomez and Morticia doing a Tango that is equal parts sinister and sexy.
  • Once Bitten opens with a Tango number as Sebastian gets his vampire mistress all done up for an evening of hunting virgins.
  • True Lies plays with the trope. Arnold's character has a weakness for the Tango and dances it with his sexy but evil target. At the end, he dances another with the wife he loves, inconveniencing their partner in the van.
  • 12 Monkeys: the title theme is also the leitmotif of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, the Animal Wrongs Group believed responsible for causing the apocalypse. It's written and performed by legendary tango musician Astor Piazzolla.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 

    Theatre 

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • The opening sequence of The Adventures of Figaro Pho, which shows Figaro being frightened and chased by some of the monsters that appear in the show, is accompanied by a classy-sounding tango tune.
  • Littlest Pet Shop has an episode wherein Pepper and Blythe duet "The Guilty Tango" and the animation goes all dark and gloomy.


Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • February 1, 2017
    LondonKdS
    In The Threepenny Opera Macheath and Jenny have a "romantic" tango song about their past relationship when he used to pimp her, which is mildly sinister in the traditional but bowdlerised Blitzstein English translation. The German original and later more accurate translations go even further by referring to violent abuse and back-street abortion.
  • February 3, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    The tune itself is tantalizing, captivating, and decadent within its melancholic vibe. Are there any Argentine soap operas channeling this?
  • February 4, 2017
    MetaFour
    Film:
    • Twelve Monkeys: the title theme is also the leitmotif of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, the Animal Wrongs Group believed responsible for causing the apocalypse. It's written and performed by legendary tango musician Astor Piazzolla.
  • February 5, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Contrast Creepy Jazz Music, which is also conducive to dancing, and Rotten Rock And Roll.

    Also, can this please be expanded by someone who knows music (i.e. not me): "It helps that it's usually played in a minor key." What about minor key makes music creepy? Or at least makes this music creepy.

    For a better name, why not just snowclone it with Creepy Jazz Music and Creepy Circus Music? They're pretty much "this type of music is unsettling" and so is this... right?
  • February 5, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^ I'm not sure about the snowclone. Like I mentioned in the description, this is usually more "elegant" than those types of music, and I feel like the use of "sinister" helps get that across better. I don't know.
  • February 7, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    For the Music example, I'm going to start working on a wiki page for Jungermann soon.
  • February 7, 2017
    MisterApple
    As a sub-par musician, the tango seems to be sinister because of the following. It has a syncopated march rhythm, which gives the air of mystery and uncertainty. Melodically, I think it's the specific chord progression in a minor key that makes them have a creepy feel, but I don't know what specific tango chord progressions are. Not sure if that's any help, but that's my figurative two cents.
  • February 10, 2017
    GrigorII
    alnair20aug93: I'm from Argentina, and although I have seen several films and TV series use tango music or make indirect or direct references to it, I can't recall any example of this proposed trope. In fact, in the current telenovela Amar Despues De Amar the villain is a tango dancing instructor, but that's not used in this way, it's just a placeholder job without any actual significance for the plot or the character's definition.
  • February 10, 2017
    KantonKage
  • February 10, 2017
    TheWanderer
  • February 18, 2017
    Skylite
    • The Littlest Pet Shop has an episode wherein Pepper and Blythe duet "The Guilty Tango" and the animation goes all dark and gloomy.
    • Once Bitten opens with a Tango number as Sebastian gets his vampire mistress all done up for an evening of hunting virgins.
    • Addams Family Values has Gomez and Morticia doing a Tango that is equal parts sinister and sexy.
    • True Lies plays with the trope. Arnold's character has a weakness for the Tango and dances it with his sexy but evil target. At the end, he dances another with the wife he loves, inconveniencing their partner in the van.
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