Basically, this is when Electronic Music is associated with the villains. Historically, it comes from several factors. First of all, this trope is the natural evolution of the association of Evil and Rock'n Roll in public consciousness: it's popular (so it's dumb), it's loud and unartistic. In other words it is bad music, so it is logical that it should be associated with bad guys, right? Then, Rock & Roll and all his punk and metallic siblings (the previous musical scapegoats) progressively lost their "rebellious" vibe throughout the years, and the use of this genre for the villains' Leitmotifs mostly appears as a Dead Horse Trope.
In effect, the electro soundtrack gives to the villain an overwhelming aura, while the association of extremely sharp and low noises also gives to its presence an uncanny feeling of disharmony. Because of the rift between the electro fans and haters, the music could at the same time make the bad guy look awesome and badass or an unbearable and tasteless Scrappy, turning the character into a Base-Breaking Character.
Despite the "Evil Electro" name, the trope does not only apply to Hip-Hop inspired electronic music. As a villain theme, the main characteristic is that it must be scary in some way, which is usually done by the aggressiveness of the beats. All Electronic Music does not necessarily work well for a villainous leitmotif:
- Usually Evil: Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Glitch, Industrial, Techno
- Usually Not: Electroswing, Eurobeat, Vaporwave
- Neutral: Ambient, Chiptune, Electro House, Synth-Pop, Trance, Synthwave
- Depending on the Writer and, in most cases, subgenre.
The trope also has its own little Sub-Trope: the Deadly DJ. After all, what could be more evil than the guy who creates Freaky Electronic Music? This Musical Assassin (who doubles as a Dreadful Musician for some) will often be portrayed as a cocky clubber, flamboyant but lazy (because Electronic Music has the bad reputation of being "easy to make"; the use of samples is often considered a "theft" showing how unimaginative they are) and wasting all their money — that they earned thanks to all the sheeple who bought their crappy music, remember? — in extravagant parties.
It also allows to include Evil Electronic Music in a more diegetic way, wherein the heroes have to use the Power of Rock (ironically enough) in order to defeat the DJ in a Battle of the Bands and prove that "real" music will always win over their engineered and soulless noises. Obviously, their own composition will serve as Battle Theme Music, or it could be a fitting Boss Remix.note
Outside of the army of bodyguards and corrupted people in his pocket, the Deadly DJ's favorite weapons usually are the Dubstep Gun and Sharp Vinyl Discs. A usual representation of the Deadly DJ is an Expy of Daft Punk or deadmau5 and their eccentric helmets, or Lady Gaga and her no-less eccentric outfits and hairstyle for a female variant.
Electronic music is also the theme of most Killer Robots, malevolent AIs and other Mechanical Abominations. When the metallic creature appears and its electronic tune starts playing, it feels like if the distorted noises were coming directly from it, almost like if that amalgamate of codes and circuitry was screaming its rage and its pain at the face of mankind. It would be poetic, if it wasn't simultaneously trying to disintegrate your face with some deadly lasers. Similarly, Industrial is often and fittingly enough the soundtrack of Eternal Engines and Nightmarish Factories, the violent slams of the presses marking the beat.
Compare Cyber Punk Is Techno when its Black And Grey characters have electronic leitmotifs, Creepy Jazz Music for the Jazz equivalent of this trope, Rotten Rock & Roll for the Rock equivalent of the trope, and Rock Me, Asmodeus! when rock music is associated with the Devil himself. No direct relation with Psycho Electro, though electricity is often an Elemental Power associated with this kind of villains. May overlap with Circus Synths, in Creepy Circus Music.
One final note: if you didn't get it, a lot of this intro is written with Sarcasm Mode on. Of course, Electronic Music is not "soulless", "unartistic" and "evil", everything is a matter of personal taste. Thus, No Real Life Examples, Please! This page has no vocation of listing all the electronic music that you hate, no matter how terrible you think it sounds and how douchey their creators could be.
- Downplayed in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt since both the titular duo and Scanty & Kneesocks have an electro theme song. But when you compare the upbeat "Fly Away" and the rock-inspired "I Want You", it is not really difficult to find out which group works for the Devil.
- The Pillar Men from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency have a theme mixing electronic and arabic music with some rotten riffs here and there. Their battle themes, Elephant Talk, also are dubstep-filled madness.
- In Senki Zesshou Symphogear, the protagonists' Magitek Powered Armor is powered by singing, with each character having a signature genre.
- In G: "Distorted Mirror" is a dubstep song, and is sung by a Brainwashed and Crazy Yandere.
- In GX: activating the IGNITE Module (a controlled version of what's normally a Superpowered Evil Side that drives the user into a berserk rage) results in an Evil Costume Switch plus remixing the user's songs into dubstep.
- Almost the entire soundtrack of Kemono Friends is relaxing music that wouldn't be out of place in a nature documentary... Except for when the Blob Monster Ceruleans show up, always accompanied by dubstep.
- The Wicked + The Divine:
- Woden has a character design clearly modeled after the Daft Punk members and is also one of the most morally reprehensible Jerkass characters in the series.
- Inverted by his nemesis, Dionysus, who is the in-universe divine equivalent of a DJ with Hive Mind / Mind Control powers...and is totally a Nice Guy to the Nth degree. He just wants people to be happy! His debut issue even features a visual beat with mood-based color shifts.
- Inverted in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks in which dubstep enthusiast Vinyl Scratch is the one saving the day by helping the Mane Seven defeat the Dazzlings and their hypnotic siren chants with her Rockin' Convertible (although the actual song used to defeat them is more pop than electro).
- Slightly downplayed in Wreck-It Ralph: the theme for Hero's Duty is a dubstep piece composed by Skrillex himself. It is not associated with an evil character in particular (as it can be seen as both the theme for Sergeant Calhoun and the Cy-Bugs), but it is clearly supposed to evoke violence and fear (as Ralph feels throughout his "game session") especially when compared to AKB48's Sugar Rush.
- Although Home has a rather lighthearted electro-pop soundtrack (which is no surprise, considering that Rihanna voices the female lead), the Big Bad has a contrasting and stressing drum'n'bass leitmotif.
- In The Angry Birds Movie, the pigs distract the birds to steal their eggs by throwing a huge party with Daft Piggy (helmet and all) at the turntable.
- In Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, inside the Instrument of Destruction is sheet music, that, when played, mind controls the Kraken into destroying everything. In attempt to have the Kraken kill all monsters, Abraham Van Helsing plays an EDM rendition of this song. He comes very close to succeeding.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Electro fittingly gets a techno leitmotif called "My Enemy".
- Two of Ramona's Evil Exes than Scott Pilgrim has to fight are the Japanese twin DJs Kyle and Ken Katayanagi. In the movie Scott's band — the Sex Bob-Omb — has to do a Battle of the Bands with them, countering their Freaky Electronic Music with The Power of Rock (which results in a fight between their respective Animal Battle Auras).
- In the 1996 live-action film version of The Wind in the Willows by Terry Jones, the weasels sing a catchy Villain Song called "Secret of Survival", accompanied by wild electronic music.
- In Hobbs & Shaw features a Villain Song called "Even if I die" which Brixton Lore is a DJ under the name DJ Big Driis/Big Driis the Londoner and also he writes the song inspired by his character.
- In the third season of Arrow, Chase became the DJ of Verdant (after saving a lame night with "Turn Down for What") and the love interest of Thea, only to be revealed later as a member of the League of Assassins sent to kill her.
- Inverted in Sense8 where Riley and Will first link to each other when Riley is DJing. The song that plays in the background is an uplifitng Trance song with lyrics where the singer vows to be there for a friend in distress.
- DJ Octavio from Splatoon embodies the Deadly DJ subtrope (to the point of being a Dumbass DJ in the American release), not just playing his own boss theme, but also riding a Humongous Mecha shaped like a show stage loaded to the gills with weaponry.
- In the sequel's DLC campaign the fight against Agent 3 under the control of the Big Bad takes the series' main theme, "Splattack!", and turns it into a frantic breakcore piece. It's never mentioned in-game, but the official Splatoon Tumblr blog states that the in-universe musician credited for the remix was also kidnapped and brainwashed by the Big Bad.
- ARIA, the Big Bad from the Killer Instinct reboot, has a Drum And Bass-style theme song. A bit downplayed since most of the characters actually have an electro leitmotif, but ARIA's one is arguably more aggressive than the others.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- In Sonic Lost World, Zavok's battle theme starts out with just orchestra instruments, but later adds some wubs, essentially turning into a dubstep remix of itself.
- Infinite's theme from Sonic Forces is a Boastful Rap set to hardcore dubstep, and his battle themes are all Boss Remixes in a similar style, but more fast-paced and intense. Metal Sonic's boss theme also leans into this, being a dubstep-heavy remix of the Stardust Speedway Bad Future theme.
- The better instance of the trope in DmC: Devil May Cry's is Lilith's Club, a psychedelic and Tron-esque place managed by the concubine of Mundus. A good chunk of soundtrack has been done by Noisia, including the aforementioned club level.
- Matt Miller and the Deckers' level in Saints Row: The Third is a Cyberspace filled with electro and dubstep music.
- The game Monster High: New Ghoul in School has a surprisingly catchy electronic OST. Subverted in the sense that the environment and characters are based on classical Horror Tropes but are not actually evil by nature.
- Mass Effect: Saren's theme is a menacing sounding synthesizer piece, which also plays whenever you get a Game Over.
- The Subspace Emissary uses an electronic Dark Reprise of the game's main theme in the levels that take place in Subspace, Tabuu's realm. Tabuu himself has electronic music in parts of his battle theme.
- The Twilight beasts in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are announced by distorted, muted electronic music. This is combined with use of Tron Lines and floating pixels to emphasize how alien they are in a medieval fantasy setting.
- Omega/Photoshop Flowey's theme "Your Best Nightmare" in Undertale — which in itself is a Dark Reprise of an upbeat chiptune theme — is some kind of orchestral/breakcore combination which, combined with the Interface Screw and his over-realistic sprites, really inspires an eerie feeling of Uncanny Valley.
- Crash Bandicoot:
- Crash Bandicoot (1996): The levels Heavy and Castle Machinery, Toxic Waste, Cortex Power and especially Generator Room are all part of Big Bad Dr. Neo Cortex's bases and they all have industrial music accompanying them. In particular, the minimalistic feel of the themes make all of those stages more ominous.
- Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back: The stages Piston It Away and Spaced Out, parts of Cortex's factory, ere accompanied by electronic and industrial music.
- Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: Dr. N. Tropy, the third boss and the one who keep the Time Twister Machine in check, has a heavy industrial theme that goes well with his clockwork design. There also are the stages 19 and 21 which are set in the futuristic Neo York city (that is, a future where Cortex takes over a city), complete with electronic music.
- In Kirby: Planet Robobot, most of the soundtrack is composed of electronic music, due to the Haltmann Works Company taking over and mechanizing Dream Land. The best example of this trope action, however comes from President Haltmann's battle theme, Crazy Rolling In Money, which starts off with a Dark Reprise of "The Noble Haltmann" and becomes increasingly chaotic as the fight goes on. Combined with Haltmann's constant shouts and laughter and some of his attacks (including destroying his own robotic minions with a laser), it makes the fight against him surprisingly unsettling.
- Klonoa: In Door to Phantomile, the impish Joka is commonly associated with this type of music. His normal leitmotif, Joker Mood, is a bouncy, funky piece. No Jokes Around is a Dark Reprise of this song that plays as he gets more unhinged, Joker's Move is a creepy sci-fi sounding piece that plays when he finally snaps and kills Grandpa with Frickin' Laser Beams. And last, but not least, there's his battle theme, Facade and Blade, which starts out with Creepy Circus Music, then switches to dark techno music, symbolic of his Villainous Breakdown.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon has two examples:
- The Donkey Kong Country music by David Wise has a few examples of Industrial music used in Nightmarish Factory levels:
- The first game has "Fear Factory", although the track is more Ambient than Industrial (in accordance with the rest of the soundtrack).
- Honorable mention: this fan remix named "Industrial Hysteria" by Vincent Rubinetti turns the original song into a real Industrial piece. It is often mistaken to be an official remix by Nintendo.
- The track would however actually be reprised in Donkey Kong Country Returns under the name "Slammin' Steel" and in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze by David Wise himself this time under the name "Frozen Frenzy" where it is mixed with crystalline xylophone sounds.
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! uses a new song named "Nuts and Bolts" for its factory levels and is way scarier as it completely drops the ambient tones of the first game.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns has a factory level names "Music Madness" in which the beat of the music is marked by the presses of the machinery and serves as hints for the player for when to progress to not be squished by the giant hammers.
- The World 7 (Factory) level selection music is also rearranged with literal industrial noises and a sharp electronic sound.
- The first game has "Fear Factory", although the track is more Ambient than Industrial (in accordance with the rest of the soundtrack).
- In Persona 5, Okumura's Palace theme, Sweatshop. It suits the concept of the factory, where workers are treated as expendable robots, and his own "space villain" image.
- In contrast to Fire Emblem: Three Houses' orchestral soundtrack with a light EDM touch, "those who slither in the dark" are specifically associated with electronic music genres, mainly Dubstep, highlighting their technological superiority to the rest of Fódlan. Their lair, Shambhala, has unique map music in the form of this absolutely brain-melting track.
- If you take a look at Just Shapes & Beats you'll know much of the music is Electronic anyway. But one notable example for this trope is Annihilate, composed by Destroid members Excision and Far Too Loud, which makes for a song that is very intimidating and very fitting for the final showdown between the protagonist and the now-monstrous Boss.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: in "Mozart vs Skrillex", although the battle is pretty even in terms of quality and overall meanness, at one point Mozart calls Skrillex a "lonely little troll [knowing] how to press a spacebar", tying with the whole "easy to make Electronic Music" bad rep. Note that Skrillex is a fair player, as he played his own part at Youtube Comedy Week.
- Emperor Awesome from Wander over Yonder is an insatiable party shark who parties so hard that he literally destroys planets, usually with his leitmotif "Let's Get Awesome". He also acts as a foil for Lord Hater and his Rotten Rock & Roll theme, and both of them also act as foils for the titular Wander and his acoustic banjo.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Mane Attraction": a Lady Gaga expy called "The Countess" is about to perform at Ponyville, but by the end of the episode she fires her mean agent and drops the Countess act to finally make "true" music.
- In an episode of American Dad!, the bad guy of the week is a deadmau5 expy called DJ Iron Monkey who secretly enslaves whales while publicly claiming to be a Nature Lover.
- The Bikini Sisters from the 2016 The Powerpuff Girls reboot have trance music playing when they appear, very reminiscent of what you could hear on a Fashion Show.
- Allegro is a panda who brainwashes everyone to make them happy. His own diabetes-inducing world is a giant rave party. On a nice touch, the rave music progressively turns into dubstep the more Allegro's physical body is damaged.
- When Blossom accidentally releases a bunch of partying ghost in the episode Puffdora's Box, their party is managed by two Daft Punk expies.
- In Class of the Titans, Pan uses evil techno to mind-control the patrons of his eco-rave, until the heroes shut him down and stop what made him evil.
- Samurai Jack:
- In the second episode, when Jack has just arrived in Aku's future, he goes to a futuristic Bad-Guy Bar. The heavy Drum and Bass music playing in this new, hostile environment is playing loud enough to make Jack's ears pulse.
- In the episode "Jack and the Rave", a demon known as "DJ Stylbator" uses electronic music to brainwash young kids into violent vandals loyal to Aku. The show seemed to literally treat the music itself as evil, with Jack telling all the newly liberated kids to never dance to this kind of music again. This was completely ignored for Season 5, as we revisit the same rave and there's nothing sinister about it at all. The young girl Jack saved on the original episode is now the DJ, using their eternal party of electronic music to keep alive the memory of Jack. It's very heartwarming.
- Soundwave in Transformers: Prime and Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) is accompanied by dubstep music, mostly to compensate and contrast his creepy mute status and make him even more threatening by its mere presence.
- Steven Universe: To emphasize the alien nature of the Diamonds, their leitmotif is heavy synthesizer beats.