Well. This was a thing and I, for whatever reason, thought it was something I’d enjoy covering. Needless to say, I did not. I can say without question, that it is my least favorite pop culture, media escapade I’ve had all week, offering very little in the form of value. For what it’s worth, I didn’t want to dislike the album (where’s the fun in that) but regardless, it took only a few songs to realize how much the album matched the slapped together tone of the film and how that wasn’t a good thing.
“Sucker for Pain” is grossly on the nose. Performed by Imagine Dragons, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa, the line “I torture you” the leads into the chorus is a lazy attempt to be edgy, much like the tone of the film, and the song quickly grows into a monotonous routine with performers singing with no motivation or interest. Not a great way to begin the album.
It soon grows apparent that there is no rhyme nor reason to the song choices picked, instead with choices that range from hip-hop, to Warped tour alternative, to synth heavy acts such as Kehlani’s “Gangsta” with lines such as “my freakness is on the loose” being little more than eye roll inducing.
Five songs in and I was desperate for a song that would make this process worth it, with none of what had come thus far being something that would typically fit into my own personal musical library. If the goal was for the album to get featured airplay at Hot Topic, than they may have succeeded with the film itself being primed for baby goths to dress as Margot Robbie’s hyper-sexualized Harley Quinn for years to come.
“You Don’t Know Me” by Grace and featuring G-Easy is the first song to catch my ear in a positive manner, having been one the many trailer songs for the film and one that fits perfectly with the rebellious nature those trailers had lead audiences to believe the movie was going to be. Grace has a crooning element to her voice that inspires visions of smoky bars and femme fatales. It’s a perfect tune for a Harley in another iteration of the character.
Grimes is one of my favorite current artists, blending empowering lyricism with pop inspired, indie synth and while there’s a nice edge to “Medieval Warfare” it doesn’t even scratch at the best that she is capable of. Another band I’m fond of? Panic! At the Disco and as someone who has seen lead singer Brendon Urie perform the cover live, I had some curiosity on how the song was going to transfer over to a recording, with much of the covers success coming from how charismatic Urie is live and how energetically he performs the classic tune. His skill isn’t lost on the album but much of the ferocious delivery is and, more than anything, highlights an undercurrent problem that the album-movie really-has. It desperately wanted to be DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy but rather than getting classic tunes from the 70’s that help motivate a narrative, they dropped pop hits that they hoped would see an increase in radio play and that ended up cheapening the aesthetic. Simply put, they missed the point about just what made the songs in Galaxy work which was the contextual significance of them having been given to Peter on a tape from his late mother. It’s his one connection to where he came from. There are maybe a few bright spots on the Suicide Squad soundtrack but man oh man does it just manage to further highlight the lack of nuance that went into this entire spectacle.
Just take a look at Creedence Clearwater Revival song that pops up one song later, further implying that there was no tonality thought of beyond pulling from the top 40 catalog. There could have been something interesting here if they’d stuck a singular motif but instead they didn’t fully commit to make the soundtrack a cohesive part of the storytelling process and in the end it became a distraction rather than an asset.