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Sinister Tango Music

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And now: the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail, in their rendition of the Cell Block Tango...

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".note  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).


The music is typically associated with Wicked Cultured characters, due to its elegant mood. But because the dances are usually intimate, it is also often associated with seductive characters, such as Femme Fatales. After all, Evil Is Sexy!

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Arrancar leitmotif from Bleach often makes use of this trope, especially in Nube Negra, which has a tango/flamenco-esque sound.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Addams Family Values has Gomez and Morticia doing a Tango that is equal parts sinister and sexy.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus features a brief tango between Mister Nick (played by Tom Waits) and Valentina (played by Lily Cole).
  • Once Bitten opens with a Tango number as Sebastian gets his vampire mistress all done up for an evening of hunting virgins.
  • Sunset Boulevard: Tango music plays as Norma Desmond forces protagonist Joe Gillis to dance with her.
  • 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.
  • In 12 Monkeys (by Terry Gilliam, who also directed the aforementioned Doctor Parnassus), 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.
  • Waking Life: Most of the soundtrack is tango music—and so when The Dreamer starts to become more and more unhinged and the visuals become (literally) more nightmarish as the movie nears its climax, this Trope is pretty much in play.

    Live-Action TV 



    Video Games 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Gomez and Morticia

Gomez and Morticia do a dance at their bistro. Being Addamses, their dance occasionally takes a few turns into the deadly.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SinisterTangoMusic

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