From its first sounds — the beginning strains of “Angel of the Morning” playing over the Marvel logo — Deadpool distinguishes itself with a soundtrack that’s not only eclectic but sincere. Director Tim Miller tells EW, “Ryan Reynolds and [screenwriters] Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are all vast repositories of pop culture in general and music in particular. And they share a very special love for ’80s and ’90s music at its best and at its most earnest.” The script was always filled with very specific references, and here are the top five songs you’ve probably already searched for online after seeing the movie.
Juice Newton, “Angel of the Morning”
This deliciously vanilla soft rock classic has been covered by numerous artists ever since Merrilee Rush scored a hit with the ballad in 1968. But arguably no one is as responsible for the song’s immortality like Juice Newton, who released this version on her 1981 album Juice, which also featured the hit single “Queen of Hearts.”
In Deadpool, “Angel of the Morning,” sprinkles its rose petals over the opening credits sequence, a 360-degree analysis of a violent freeze-framed action scene. “This one has been in there since day one,” says director Tim Miller. “It has always been the perfect contrast to the complete and utter mayhem going on in the scene.”
“That was originally Ryan’s suggestion,” says Reese, who wrote the first draft of Deadpool’s script more than five years ago with Wernick. “Deadpool the character is so eclectic in terms of his references and his taste — and so what better way to set the tone of a movie than with Juice Newton? And to introduce a new a whole new generation to her. You go to an “Angel of the Morning” video on YouTube and all the kids are listening to it and commenting that they found their way there through Deadpool. That’s so awesome.”
Wernick suggests that the song works so well in the movie for one simple reason: Because it’s great tune. “It’s weird that you hear it at first and realize that it’s an ironic choice,” he says. “But the ironic choice can also work in an unironic, very earnest way. The song is there because we love it.”
“This one was a late arrival but I love it,” says Miller. “Aditya Sood, one of our producers, suggested it and everyone immediately saw how perfect it was. Ryan Reynolds got so excited he may have peed a little.”
Likewise for the film’s writers. Reese and Wernick met Salt-N-Pepa at the movie’s New York premiere and were overcome with excitement. “We try to make our motto be ‘Push it, push it, push it,’” says Wernick with a laugh, “so seeing them really left me starstruck.”
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Neil Sedaka, “Calendar Girl”
Deadpool’s music editor Ted Caplan suggested Sedaka’s upbeat 1961 anthem after a lengthy search for the perfect sex-montage piece. Says Miller, “We wanted something that reinforced the passage of time as they fell in love and felt a little fun, a little cheesy and — again — contrasted the steamy action. Hot sex versus wholesome love.”
DMX, “X Gon’ Give It To Ya”
“You just can’t beat this song for pure bad-assery!” says Miller of DMX’s 2003 hip-hop hit, originally recorded for the movie Cradle 2 the Grave — and featured liberally in early trailers for Deadpool. “This bad boy has been on my exercise playlist for six years now since I first read the script. And if you really listen to the lyrics they fit the scene perfectly, referencing the ‘stainless steel’ for Colossus and, of course, the X for X-Men.”
WHAM!, “Careless Whisper”
“Another song that’s been in the script from day one,” says Miller of George Michael’s fantastically retro 1984 single. “Wham! epitomized ’80s big-hair pop like no other group. Maybe if we had Flock of Seagull’s do a WHAM! cover we could do better…but I doubt it!”