SoundTreks | Deadpool
Deadpool, out in theaters this Friday, is the superhero movie that the genre has been aching for. Deadpool is an indestructible, superviolent, half-mad mercenary who cusses a blue streak, and, in a unique twist, knows that he is a character in a comic book. Despite changing trends in comic books (and in comic book movies), Deadpool can serve as an antidote to the self-seriousness and ultra-dramatic mythmaking of the format.
Check Out: 10 Great Movies That Broke the Fourth Wall
The soundtrack to the Deadpool movie, then, is an eclectic mix of weird-ass pop selections that are in a clever state of constant self-referral. It’s like the hit soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy, but possessed of, y’know, actual wit. In the context of the movie, all of the songs are ironic counterpoints to the on-screen action. Yes, all of them. Well, maybe not the DMX song, but the rest for sure. Deadpool is an enjoyable, funny flick. Does the soundtrack record reflect that? SoundTreks took a listen, and drew the following hasty conclusions:
Track 1. “Angel of the Morning” – Juice Newton
Songwriter Chip Taylor’s “Angel of the Morning,” also known as the single wussiest song in pop history not sung by Rod Stewart or Bryan Adams, was originally recorded in 1967 by Evie Sands, and it has been re-recorded innumerable times since then by both obscure and well-known artists. My favorite was the pop-punk version by little-known video game rock chanteuses Vagiant (a.k.a. Vagiant Boston, a.k.a. Tijuana Sweetheart, a.k.a. defunct now). But the version everyone knows is the heartfelt Juice Newton rendition from 1981. The song, with no small amount of shameful weepiness, describes the morning after a lovin’ encounter, where the singer begs an unknown sexual assailant to “just touch my cheek before you leave me.” I love hating this song.
In the movie, “Angel of the Morning” plays over the film’s opening credits, which is a violent montage of extreme bloodshed. It’s hard not to use “Angel of the Morning” ironically, so the filmmakers did right by the song here.
Track 2. “Maximum Effort” – Junkie XL
The score to Deadpool was written by Junkie XL, a.k.a. Tom Holkenborg, who has also scored other hyperactive, dumb teen boy movies like Resident Evil, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, and a lot of other movies you’d probably see on sale for $3.99 in the GameStop DVD bin. He’s also worked on critically acclaimed hit genre films like Inception and Mad Max: Fury Road. His noisy electronic mixitude is well-suited to the short attention spans of the hyper, Monster-drinking, gaming comic book crowd. Junkie XL may be the primary exemplar for all modern action movie music. It was once bombastic orchestral scores, but for the past 15 years, actual instruments have given way to dancefloor techno, to the point where it’s almost all we here in the “badass” montages of heroic action movies.
This is not a bad thing, as the sound is exciting and appropriate, and actually conveys way more attitude than an orchestra could. I would usually complain that there is a lack of noisy heavy metal guitar shred in such a film, but Deadpool is encapsulated well by this sound. “Maximum Effort” is not only Deadpool’s mantra, but the central theme of the film.
Track 4. “Shoop” – Salt-N-Pepa
From Salt-N-Pepa’s 1993 record “Very Necessary,” and currently residing right in that nostalgic sweet spot. “Shoop” is a song about – what else? – sex. It’s a fun, jumpy song that just about everyone in their early-30s to early-40s can sing at karaoke. In the movie, it’s used as establishing background music near the beginning. It is then, and I’m so happy about this, played in its entirety, over the film’s credits.
I am often annoyed how certain movies will slap a pop tune over the credits, only to fade it out after 50 to 90 seconds in favor of a less interesting pop song. Or, worse yet, a snippet from the score. Stick with your guns. Deadpool lets the audience hear the entire song. Indeed, they have to extend it slightly. Hey kids, if you don’t know about Salt-N-Pepa, here’s an excellent introduction.
Track 8. “Calendar Girl” – Neil Sedaka
Yes, it’s been used in a hundred movies. You heard it on the oldies station 20 years ago. It’s an earworm. If you’re a music supervisor, and you find that you’re going to insert a 1960 Neil Sedaka song that has been heard countless times in previews, movies, and TV ads for Marie Callender’s, then you had better use it right. Luckily, in the film, it is used to punctuate a series of increasingly dirty sex scenes, each one themed after a different holiday; Deadpool may be the only superhero film ever wherein the protagonist is pegged up the ass, willingly, by his girlfriend’s strap-on. Because what else does a couple do on International Women’s Day? This year, it’s on Tuesday, March 8th. Get the toys and the lube ready, kids. Just like in your favorite Marvel movie!
Did I mention that I kind of love Deadpool?
Track 12. “Deadpool Rap” – Teamheadkick
Teamheadkick (a band made of Machinima employees, as far as I can tell) belongs to a genre called nerdcore, a specialized genre of pop – usually rap – that references nerd-friendly pop properties (video games, sci-fi, comics, etc.). “Deadpool Rap” was made in reference to a Deadpool video game, and refers to events from said game, as you can observe in the below video.
While the song wasn’t written exclusively for the Deadpool film, it does take the place of a sorely missed cinematic tradition: That of the movie rap song whose lyrics speak directly to the characters and events of the film. I grew up with these, and miss songs like “The Addams Groove,” “T-U-R-T-L-E Power,” “Are You Ready for Freddy?,” and “On Our Own” from Ghostbusters II. Some of the Deadpool filmmakers knew what was what.
Track 17. “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” – DMX
I’m not at all knowledgeable about DMX, I’m afraid, so I don’t know how hip it is to say the following: I kind of like DMX. He’s a little scary, still palateable, and, most importantly, not gratingly obnoxious. “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” is well enough, I suppose, although it’s the only song on this soundtrack that is not an ironic comment. It’s just a straightforward pop song that serves the same function as the pumped-up score. Functionally, it’s kind of dull. By itself, it’s fine enough.
Track 23. “Careless Whisper” – WHAM!
Deadpool, in the context of the film, is a huge WHAM! fan, and indicates that their record “Make It Big” was when they finally “earned the exclamation point.” “Careless Whisper,” a notoriously wussy song beloved by many and hated by as many more, is Deadpool’s preferred love song. Although I suspect that both the character and the filmmakers have no genuine affection for “Careless Whisper,” since it’s presented, once again, as a tonal counterpoint. I appreciate the overabundance of irony on a soundtrack. In a modern epoch of overinflated pop sincerity, a little bit of piss-taking is absolutely necessary.
Which is Better? The Soundtrack or the Movie?
The soundtrack, like the movie, is very funny and a sheer delight, but doesn’t quite go far enough. On the upcoming episode of Crave’s The B-Movies Podcast, you’ll hear the full analysis as to why, but Deadpool only goes 90% of the way to true dissection. The soundtrack as well. As you can see, there are only six songs on the soundtrack which is mostly taken up by Junkie XL’s score. I feel like there was a missed opportunity with this soundtrack, however fun it may be: To include dialogue and songs performance by Deadpool himself, and a chance to include more original tunes that comment more directly on the action.
But, that said, the film and the soundtrack are both pretty damn fun. The movie, I think, outstrips the soundtrack overall; it just has more to work with. But the record is just an additional bonus to enjoy with the film, once it comes out. In an age of superhero critical mass, we need satire. Deadpool is the best we’ve gotten so far.
Top Photo: 20th Century Fox
Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and the co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. He also contributes to Legion of Leia and to Blumhouse. You can follow him on “The Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.