Album Review: The Fiercely Femme ‘Birds Of Prey’ Soundtrack

Mike Nied | February 10, 2020 6:20 pm

Margot Robbie put her iconic pastel pigtails back in, grabbed her trusty mallet and reassumed the role of Harley Quinn in DC’s latest blockbuster Birds Of Prey (out February 7). And she and her crew of fellow ass-kicking anti-heroines are being supported in theaters by an equally talented crew of female musicians on the soundtrack. Released via Atlantic Records it boasts a genre-spanning lineup including established hitmakers like Halsey and rising stars the likes of Normani and CYN.

Each artist brings something unique but fiercely femme to the mix. The end result is a body of work that should be just as big as the film its attached to. It also proves that Robbie (who acted as executive producer) may have a backup career if she wants to step away from acting in the future. Dive into a track-by-track review of the collection below and let us know if you agree with our thoughts.

1. “Boss Bitch” – Doja Cat

I’m the whole damn cake and a cherry on top.

You don’t have to worry about a slow start when it comes to the Birds of Prey soundtrack. The star-studded project opens with a relentless banger courtesy of Doja Cat. “Boss Bitch” delivers racing beats and self-assured lyrics. And the song only improved once stans got their hands on it and created a mash-up featuring Azealia Banks and Nicki Minaj. Can we get an official remix, please?

2. “So Thick” – WHIPPED CREAM feat. Baby Goth

If you’re gonna play with me you better know who run the game.

Next up is an equally cocky gem courtesy of WHIPPED CREAM and Baby Goth. The Canadian producer creates a soundscape tailored for twirling around a pole. And her collaborator lays it all out with some brag-heavy lyrics. Her soft but commanding voice is the perfect foil for the sharp synths, and this is an unassuming number that emerges as a highlight with repeated listens.

3. “Diamonds” – Megan Thee Stallion and Normani

I don’t need you. I got flooded out baguettes.

Megan Thee Stallion and Normani kicked off the Birds Of Prey campaign and landed one of the first excellent song-video combinations of 2020 with “Diamonds.” And the ferocious lead single only improves with age. From the historic Marilyn Monroe sample to Meg’s predictably tight verses, there’s so much to love here. The only way it could get better is if the “Motivation” siren got an expanded section instead of being restrained to the verse and bridge. As it stands it’s still on track to become a modern-day classic.

4. “Sway With Me” – Saweetie and GALXARA

Dancing in flames. Sway with me. Sway, sway, sway.

Breakout stars Saweetie and GALXARA are one of a couple surprise duets on the tracklist. But the unlikely duo clearly works well together. “Sway With Me” may just be the best interpretation of “Sway” since the Pussycat Dolls tackled the standard in the early aughts. Their frenzied update takes the classic and brings it into an entirely new decade. This is unhinged dance pop at its finest. It’s also worth pointing out that Saweetie’s verse is the first to directly reference the film’s titular protagonist, which makes for an even better meeting of worlds.

5. “Joke’s On You” – Charlotte Lawrence

I’ve lied for you, and I liked it, too. But now my makeup’s ruined.

Don’t get mad or sad after breaking free of a toxic relationship. Get even. That’s the message Charlotte Lawrence imparts on “Joke’s On You.” Laying her voice over a vaguely retro production courtesy of Daniel Pemberton and Imad Royal, she evens out the score with what sounds like an abusive ex. (He could easily be Harley’s Joker.) There’s a particularly visceral quality to the lyrics, which do nothing to hide the relationship’s negative qualities or how liberated Charlotte feels. All things considered, this ranks as a personal favorite.

6. “Smile” – Maisie Peters

Got bridges to burn and places to run. Yeah, this smile is a loaded gun.

Maisie Peters brings her brand of Emo Girl Pop to the Birds Of Prey franchise with “Smile.” Her contribution to the mix is another fierce celebration of female independence. What sets it apart is how the production evolves from the sparse intro. Things grow in power as a choir comes in behind her whispery vocals on the chorus. The song also takes on a more personal edge as Maisie reclaims her discography from detractors who have threatened to dull her shine.

7. “Lonely Gun” – CYN

You could see it in her walk.

CYN’s Mood Swing ranks as one of the best EPs of 2019. And the rising star proves her craft only improved in the passing months with “Lonely Gun.” The tantalizing anthem is one of the first bright pop moments on the tracklist. And her always compelling voice cuts straight to the bone as it vibrates over the soundscape courtesy of Matias Mora. It should be noted that the post-chorus here is the definition of pop perfection.

8. “Experiment On Me” – Halsey

Lock up your guns. Make way for the daughters.

Halsey’s contribution to Birds Of Prey falls more in line with the rock-focused sonics of last year’s “Nightmare” than anything she explores on Manic. Created alongside Bring Me To The Horizon bandmates Jordan Fish and Oliver Sykes, the walloping track is a musical tidal wave that builds in power and crescendos with her screaming in the final moments. Her all-out attack is certainly nothing like “Graveyard” but deserving of just as much respect.

9. “Danger” – Jucee Froot

It’s a all girls party, and no boys can come.

Jucee Froot sounds the alarm on her growling, party starting banger “Danger.” Built around an instantly hummable and very quotable chorus, the song is clearly a celebration of girl power. That alone makes it an obvious addition to the tracklist. However, it does feel a little lost in the mix. In comparison to some of the other demented bops, this is a slightly more pedestrian celebration in the long run.

10. “Bad Memory” – K.Flay

I recognize just who you truly are: a liar. So I set all of your records and your clothes on fire.

Do not cross K.Flay. Because she gets even as evidenced by the hell she rains down on a good-for-nothing ex on “Bad Memory.” The crashing takedown is reminiscent of Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad lost hit “Breakin’ Dishes.” Only this time around the siren has evidence of her man’s cheating ways. And she wastes no time going in for the kill. Everything comes together effortlessly on the furiously delivered anthem, which emerges as another standout deserving of a single treatment.

11. “Feeling Good” – Sofi Tukker

Let me be too much. Let me be more than enough.

New York duo Sofi Tukker makes excellent use of their electro-pop soundscape on “Feeling Good.” On an album lush with retro samples, I initially expected this to revisit Nina Simone’s track of the same name. Instead, the hitmakers create a tantalizing party anthem lush with synths inspired by the late ’90s and early aughts. The end result is a celebration of confidence and good vibes with an excellent breakdown.

12. “Invisible Chains” – Lauren Jauregui

I found beauty in this pain. Gave me strength to break these invisible chains.

The Birds Of Prey soundtrack is the breeding grounds for a Fifth Harmony reunion. Sort of at least… Lauren Jauregui is the second member of the girl group to join the tracklist. And her contribution – “Invisible Chains” – qualifies as the heroine’s ballad of the mix. There’s a twist though. Opening over a sparse production, the song transforms into something suitably epic and deserving of Harley Quinn and Co. And the “More Than That” star’s smokey vocals have rarely sounded better than they do here. A serve.

13. “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” – Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Black Canary

Nothing without a woman or a girl.

Jurnee Smollett-Bell plays Black Canary in the film. And she also lands on the soundtrack. The star brings a sense of ominous tension to Jame Brown’s timeless standard. She does so by making use of a distinctly more modern, at times almost industrial soundscape. That is enchanting on its own. But what really pushes it over the edge is the strength of Jurnee’s vocal performance.

14. “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” – Summer Walker

Emotionally Summer Walker’s “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” is an outlier. In a sea of fiercely femme rebel anthems, this is a hopeful and romantic moment that could soundtrack the climax in an early millennium rom-com. But the loved-up R&B cut is a welcome addition to the mix. Especially since it highlights Summer’s captivating vocals and evens things out with a sole moment of sweetness.

15. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” – ADONA

Fire away.

ADONA’s cover of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is even more forbidding than “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” The Nashville-based rising star transforms the buoyant ’80s cut into a bone-chilling ballad, which crashes over listeners and leaves no prisoners. Did I know I needed this before pressing play? No. But now that I’ve heard it, I can’t seem to take it off repeat.

Score: 4/5

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