Kiss of the Spider Woman


Villain Songs


“Kiss of the Spider Woman” from Kiss of the Spider Woman (music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb)

First off: Spotify calls this Vanessa Williams recording the “original cast.” Excuse me? Chita Rivera’s recording is tragically unavailable on Spotify, but let’s be clear: she’s the original.

I love a catchy minor tune that leans into spooky vibes. “Rain” from Once on this Island comes to mind. I also think of Frank Wildhorn shows. People hate on Frank Wildhorn, and I do get it—Jekyll and Hyde has issues, and I saw Dracula on Broadway (which was…yeah, I won’t even)—but there are spooky melodies in those shows I find catchy as hell. “The Riddle” from The Scarlet Pimpernel, “Facade” from Jekyll, and actually, two or three more in Dracula. I’m a sucker for spooky minor tunes, and I think Wildhorn has good ones. I said it.

If you asked me to name my favorite spooky showtune, though, Kiss of the Spider Woman would be my immediate answer. I discovered this song in high school. This was before the days iTunes and Spotify, when discovering new cast albums meant bidding for used copies on eBay. It took me a minute to get a hold of Kiss of the Spider Woman, but when I finally did I was delighted. I couldn’t figure out the story from the booklet’s synopsis, but there were a handful of great songs I had never heard (which is more than I normally dare hope for, listening to an obscure musical’s soundtrack).

As a high school sophomore, I thought this song was about a literal monster lady called “the Spider Woman.” I had no idea “kiss of the Spider Woman” referred to death. Not that one needs to, to enjoy this song. Fred Ebb’s imagery is captivating, whether you read it literally or as a death metaphor:

“Sooner or later, in sunlight or gloom, when the red candles flicker, she’ll walk in the room. And the curtains will sheik, and the fires will hiss. Here comes her kiss…”

Chills. I dig it. Anyone have a favorite spooky, minor showtune? Let me know in the comments!