'Birds of Prey: The Album' Dismantles Sexist Myths One Female Lead at a Time
The feminine perspective is a colorful one. Though comprising half the world's population, this perspective has been consistently ignored or misrepresented in popular media. Some fun facts to drive this point home: according to Forbes in 2019 women made up only 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and 2.1% of producers in the music industry. The film industry mirrors this, as in 2019 the Women's Media Center reported that women accounted for less than a third of speaking roles in the 1,1000 films released between 2006 and 2017 and only 6.6% of directors worked on the highest-grossing films.
In the past (and often present), when industry executives have been approached with this gaping disparity, they turn to box office and record sales to defend their reservations. But do sales actually suffer from all-female fronted projects or do they just very rarely exist?
Regardless of the few chances women have gotten to disprove this myth, recent blockbusters such as the Star Wars reboot, Hunger Games, and Wonder Woman have shown that audiences do in fact want to see women in empowering roles. These conversations have bled into music too, resulting in a new era of "women helping women" in the industry. Cue Harley Quinn, her gang of female villains, and the trailblazing all-female lineup of artists featured on the highly anticipated Birds of Prey: The Album.
Birds of Prey: The Album was devised by the same team who put together the 2016 Grammy Award - nominated SUICIDE SQUAD: The Album, which was arguably the best part of the SUICIDE SQUAD franchise. Well, the album and Margot Robbie as the transfixing Miss Harley Quinn, of course. Robbie's performance as the abused, loyal-to-a-fault girlfriend of the psychotic Joker was so inspirational and widely-received, that the largely male supporting cast was essentially forgotten (fortunately including Jared Letto's cringe-inducing interpretation of the Joker, sorry not sorry).
Accounting for the Harley Quinn phenomenon which swept pop culture in 2016, the only logical next step was a standalone spin-off that divulged her story a bit deeper, and this time, through the eyes of a woman. The film's director Cathy Yan reinterprets the half-crazed, half-sweet Harley Quinn, giving her the triumphant story she always could have had but was never afforded by her original creators. A conceptual project through and through, the electric energy of the franchise translates directly to the album, as Yan along with Robbie, Sue Kroll, and Bryan Unkeless executively produce a magnetic musical collection.
The dynamic nature of the female perspective is mirrored with uncanny accuracy in the soundtrack. Featuring an array of genres and sentiments that express empowerment while admitting vulnerability, the album is a profound step for female representation in the entertainment industry as a whole. Featuring a star-studded cast of female powerhouses, boasting previous releases from Megan Thee Stallion & Normani, Doja Cat, Charlotte Lawrence, and Saweetie and GALXARA, the full 15-track body of work is nothing short of exhilarating from start to finish.
The album brings forth some unprecedented moves from artists such as Halsey, Lauren Jauregui, Summer Walker, and actor Jurnee Smollet-Bell. Halsey recently called her pop-industrial smash "Experiment On Me" the "hands down craziest song I've ever recorded. By a landslide," while Lauren Jauregui reappears for her first solo track in over year with "Invisible Chains," an anthemic ode to self-fortitude.
R&B sweetheart Summer Walker makes her first appearance on a feature film soundtrack with "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby," showcasing her honeyed vocals as she riffs through the track in seemingly seamless fashion. A particular eye-opening moment arrives courtesy of Jurnee Smollet-Bell, who plays Black Canary in the film. The actor and singer delivers a slow-burning rendition of James Brown's seminal classic "It's A Man's World," posing the question of whose world is it really.
Listen to the Birds of Prey: The Album below: