In Defense of Suicide Squad's Music

I'm not afraid to own the fact that I thought Suicide Squad was going to take the world by storm.  Even when early reviews were... really, really, bad.

Turns out I still enjoyed the film.  However, I'm not here to defend the actual film, or the very reasonable amount screen time the Joker gets despite marketing wanting you to think otherwise!  I think I did a pretty good job of that over here: Episode 30 of Spoiled Rotten.

Instead I want to talk about how the music in this movie actually elevated a bunch of scenes and added to an overall fun time out at the movies.

I have read elsewhere that people feel like the song choices in this film feel superfluous.  Like DC saw howGuardians of the Galaxy used a bunch of hits from the 70s to make a hit movie and they wanted to mimic that.  However the trick that was pulled off there was Marvel's ability to effortlessly make the songs a part of the film's story.  I argue Suicide Squad was able to pull that trick off too.

No the soundtrack isn't a gift from the protagonist's mother, however it does works like a sort of Greek chorus, providing insights and allusions, if you're willing to listen.

Right away The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" plays over our introduction to Belle Reve.  A prison, which happens to be located in New Orleans!

The song is able to sonically set the mood but if you're paying attention to the words it's describing the setting as well.

Continuing the amazing pairing of visuals and sound is the scene where Viola Davis' Amanda Waller introduces the general concept of the film while The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" plays and the Suicide Squad title card fills up the screen!

Harley Quinn's backstory is scored by RICK JAMES' "Super Freak"

Before you get the wrong idea, though, the first time you see Harley, who can be freaky at times, she is seen in her cell while Lesley Gore reminds the audience that no one owns Ms Quinzel.  Playing "You Don't Own Me" provides further insight into how volatile and self reliant this character can be.

Okay so maybe Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" may fall into the "just thrown in there" category as I can't link it to any plot point or character insight other than Deadshot is a bald black person... 

However!  When Will Smith's eyes light up and the music kicks in, his bullets act like new percussion over the track and music helps push the energy of the scene and make it a stand out moment.

I also appreciated the use of Eminem's "Without Me" as the team's "suit up" music. 

It's not just the song that uses the 60s TV show theme and the video that features crude versions of Batman and Robin.  It's the song that talks about the necessity of a bad guy like Slim Shady/Deadshot/Harley Quinn/Captain Boomerang/Killer Croc/El Diablo.

The songs that appear on the actual soundtrack are important for a different reason.  They aren't just songs by artists from a specific label for promotion.  There does seem to be some kind of enthusiasm by the artists to create music specifically for the movie.

For instance, Rick Ross and Skrillex have a music video for a song so infectious that Jared Leto went back into Joker mode for "Purple Lamborghini"

I never thought I'd hear a self proclaimed drug lord from Miami rap about Gotham city and a bunch of Batman's villains as well as appear in a video with one of them.

There's also the first single and only song I've actually heard on the radio, "Heathens" by twenty one pilots. I think I get why these guys are so stressed out now!

Then there's the ultimate soundtrack song!  Like Amanda Waller herself needed the musical version of Task Force X for the closing credits to the film.  "Sucker for Pain" is by Lil Wayne x Wiz Khalifa x Imagine Dragons (ft. Logic x Ty Dolla $ign x X Ambassadors)

So whether or not you like the movie, the music was picked and created for it carefully.  Maybe you'll see it again somewhere down the line and think, "This movie was at least fun... and what a great use of music!"