Before even considering the music pressed into the twelve-inch score released in support of Deadpool 2, one has to respect the flamboyant nature of this album. First, in a time period marked by the decline of interest in soundtrack and score album releases (due in no small part to the fact that the cherry picking nature of soundtracks mirrors the common operating procedure of iTunes pretty closely), releasing an instrumental-only record feels intentionally ironic. Really, how could this release be seen as anything other than a naked attempt at wringing every last dime out of a very financially lucrative franchise? This release doesn’t just concede that fact, it celebrates it; with fantastic graphics laid out on both sides of the vinyl itself and each side featuring a coy little twinkle in Deadpool’s eye, there is no debate surrounding the possibility that this album is totally subversive of most of the things that both the music and film industries have upheld for years. That this instrumental record has received (and, honestly, deserves) a parental advisory sticker for explicit content about says it all – doesn’t it?
Regardless of the obviously comical outward nature and appearance of the Deadpool 2 score LP, it’s impossible to deny the quality of the compositions which are pressed into it. From the moment the “X-Men Arrive” introduction erupts to open the album’s A-side, listeners will be hypnotized by the bombastic string arrangement which powers it (and proves to be the consistent aspect of the score as a whole). The enormous and undeniable compositional style which is Bates’ staple is in full and ready effect here from note one which lets listeners immediately find a comfortable position as the track unfolds, and that also allows the music to start developing in some pretty unexpected ways after introductions are made. After that, the album gets some velocity behind it with a succession of heady, powerful and short cuts (the average length of individual tracks here is between one and two minutes) which are both classical in their discipline and formulaic in their pacing. That styling keeps listeners held tightly in this early play; they won’t want to get away.
That sense of familiarity begins to change as bigger electronic beats play a factor in the development of “Hello Super Powers” and more rock-informed guitars appear in “Escape,” and the resolution for those developments lies in the perfect combination rockist instruments, big strings and electronic beats which construct “Weasel Interrogation.” Those listening to this vinyl release (and so, playing through side-to-side instead of trying to jump from track-to-track as one could with a CD player) will find the cut-by-cut build both dramatic and compelling, certainly more so than one might expect of a typical “score” release.
… And after listeners find themselves really hooked on this instrumental release and the early development of its play, Tyler Bates pulls the rug out from under the neo-classicism he had set up so well in the early play of Deadpool 2 and subverts convention with “Holy S*** Balls.” Yes reader, that track title is not a typo – it is the title of the seventh cut on this album’s A-side. Not only is it the song’s title, “Holy shit balls” is also the central lyric of the song and, when one hears it, one will find it impossible to not crack a dubious little smirk as they’re subjected to what sounds like a Roman Gothic chorus backed by a lush string section chanting obscenities. It’s in that moment listeners get the clue this score has no intention of taking itself seriously because, as profitable as the Deadpool movies may be for Marvel and Fox, the movies are still fantasy work based on comic book characters; this music may sound epic and bombastic, but it was still written to propel a film about a character who was initially created and written to be a farcical comment on superhero “culture,” and got popular by accident. In that regard, the score takes the self-reflexive form that both the character and the comics did, and so perfectly emulates the form. From that point forward in the score’s running too, it’s impossible to avoid that humor and personality.
While the humor is unmistakable, that doesn’t mean the music gets any lighter or sillier as the album progresses. Obvious elements of rock style and production (distorted guitars, bigger-sounding drums) begin to infiltrate the late-playing of Deadpool 2 score’s A-side but become both unmistakable and unavoidable on the album’s B-side to great and exhilarating effect. Throughout cuts like “Knock Knock,” “Maximum Effort” and the pinnacle of power which is “The Orphanage,” the tone of the score grows and mutates away from the sort of fare that would be considered standard issue and becomes more urgent by the minute. Listeners will be able to feel their anticipation growing and growing as the side plays because the growth and excited energy grow so consistently to the point that, when “Genuine High Grade Lead” and “Courage Motherfucker” crest and then recede to close the side, listeners will find themselves doing the same in response. The powerful cascade of energy that rolls out of this record as its B-side closes is incredible.
The power with which the B-side of the Deadpool 2 score closes may seem improbable but, when one looks at the way the whole score conducts itself, some could argue that each turn the record makes leads listeners precisely this way. This score is characterized by boldly working against the normally staid and faceless nature of the form, and succeeds at not just making an impression for itself, but hints at the chance of being the first release on which a whole new school may be built. The notion of that possibility is exciting in and of itself, but the possibility that the score for Deadpool 2 (of all things) may lead to all-new methods of thinking when it comes to film composition is just spectacular. This album demands an audience, reader – believe it.