"Rotten to the Core" is a song from Disney Channel's 2015 television film Descendants, whose music and lyrics were composed by Joacim Persson, Shelly Peiken and Johann Alkenas. The song was performed in its original show-tune version in the film by the main cast – Dove Cameron, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson and Cameron Boyce – in their vocal roles as Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Carlos De Vil (son of Cruella de Vil), Jay (son of Jafar) and Evie (daughter of The Evil Queen). The song peaked at number 38 in the Billboard Hot 100. A second version, performed by actress and singer Sofia Carson, was released as a single on December 18, 2015.
Background and composition
A midtempo dance-pop song, "Rotten to the Core" exhibits elements of pop, dubstep and hip hop. Built on a beat, multi-tracked harmonies, the song's instrumentation includes slow-bouncing synthesizer tones and keyboard. The song was written by Joacim Persson, Shelly Peiken and Johann Alkenas and produced by the duo Twin. Cameron's vocals span from the low note of F and Carson vocals span from the high notes of F. The song introducing the four villainous offspring in the film. Gary Wright of Rotoscopes noted that part of the song is spoken, whispered, reflecting an ominous tone to the voices, while only the chorus is sung. Lyrically, the song talks about the feelings of the villains, who are evil and wicked, but they like to be just like this ("Who's the baddest of them all? / Welcome to my wicked world, wicked world"). The stanzas are sung also among the four artists, while the pre-chorus is only performed by Cameron and the chorus by Booboo Stewart.
The song has received mixed reviews from music critics. The |KidsWorld Magazine He said the "Rotten to the Core" is fun and the best song on the album. Chuck Campbell of Knoxville News Sentinel was positive and commented the song is "surprisingly bold". Daynah of Disney Geek He commented that the song have an addictive melody and good sound effects, with a marked keyboard. Marshal Knight of Laughing Place was negative and said "Rotten to the Core" is disjointed and the worst song from a Disney Channel Original Movie, analyzing that Booboo Stewart "saying the same phrase over and over with a rasp that wasn't necessary". Gary Wright of Rotoscopes said that the song is a "ridiculously cheesy song", "fails to hit the right notes" and "makes the movie so bland and forgettable". Common Sense Media mentioned that the song should not be introduced for children under 6 years, because in the film scene that plays the song, Evie "draws one boy in to kiss her in a very seductive scene and wants to land a prince with money and a big castle". Ryan Clavin of WDW Info said "the song is a little ‘meh’ and a bit too on the nose, as most Disney Channel songs are".
- The song was written and produced by Joacim Persson, Shelly Peiken and Johan Alkenas.
- Sofia Carson has her own solo version and it is the theme for the Descendants: Wicked World animated shorts.
- The Mad Hatter made a cameo when Evie was introduced.
- The song has a Christmas version sung in Disney parks called Jolly to the Core Performed by Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson and Booboo Stewart
- It was the first song to be heard in the movie Descendants