Eat Nuts And Kick Butts: The ‘Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’ Mixtape [Music Week]
We at ComicsAlliance love comics, and we love music, so this week we’ve decided to combine those two loves and create playlist tributes to some of our favorite titles. Think of these as something to listen to while you read the comic, or an introduction to the vibe of a comic if you’re not yet a fan.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi is a vibrant, self-reflexive, upbeat and funny female-led comic — and those happen to be all the qualities I enjoy in my pop music as well! So stick on your headphones, grab some nuts, and let me kick your ears’ butts in this playlist inspired by Doreen Green.
Check out the track-by-track guide below, or listen along on the ComicsAlliance Spotify.
Let’s kick off with the easy cheat pick. Y’see, Squirrel Girl already has her own official theme tune, and it goes like this: “Squirrel Girl, Squirrel Girl! She’s a human and also squirrel! Can she climb up a tree? Yes she can, easily! That’s whyyyy her name is Squirrel Girl! Is she tough? Listen, bud: she’s got partially squirrel blood! Who’s her friend? Don’t you know: that’s the squirrel, Tippy-Toe!”
Sadly, this theme tune has never been recorded, so we’ll have to make do with the best version of the inferior Spider-Man theme.
That might be the official theme tune, but this Shakira track is the perfect three-minute encapsulation of how Unbeatable Squirrel Girl actually feels to read: a big positive message over a kick-butt beat.
The fact that it’s taken from the Zootopia soundtrack and thus is canonically being sung by an animal — sadly not a squirrel, but you can’t have everything — is just the icing on the (presumably nut-filled) cake.
More butt-kicking positivity! The book is absolutely brimful of good vibes, most of which emanate from its squirrel ear headband-wearing star, Doreen Green, who spends pretty much every issue making the absolute best of whatever situation she finds herself in.
You won’t find that attitude in the lyrics here, but it’s definitely present in the song’s irresistible forward momentum.
The main reason Squirrel Girl is great? The jokes, which are packed into every corner of the page.
The book has a really distinctive sense of humor, one that “Dream Ghost” basically takes and sets to a catchy tune. The song delights in the same kind of unexpected digressions, while poking fun at familiar tropes, the same way North and Henderson do for superhero books.
Another great thing about Squirrel Girl as a character is her ongoing effort to help the supervillains she faces off against, rather than just beating them up until they somehow end up in jail. Doreen’s astonishing empathy powers stretch even to the likes of Doctor Doom and Galactus, and that creates some of the comic’s finest moments.
One of my favourite musical self-esteem boosters, “The Middle” really feels like it could be one of the speeches she gives. It’s music to punch the air to (not a villain’s face), and that’s pretty much Squirrel Girl in a nutshell.
Peanut Butter Jelly
“Alex,” you might ask at this point, “did you just type Squirrel Girl’s ‘eat nuts and kick butts’ catchphrase into the Spotify search bar and it threw up this song?” And you’d be right to ask that, dear reader, because that is exactly what I did.
But, hey, not only is this an awesome song, but also totally the kind of music I can see Doreen’s roommate Nancy Whitehead listening to while she knits. The cover art even has a cat on it, just like Nancy’s beloved Mew, recently the star of his own story in issue #15.
Just in case you’ve somehow missed it, the theme of this mix is “songs that make me grin uncontrollably when I listen to them.” A song about the joys of bouncing 100% fills that remit, and I think we can all agree that, “First you fall down, then you jump back up again” feels like a message Doreen would endorse.
I’ve focused pretty consistently on Unbeatable Squirrel Girl‘s softer side — the big heart, the good vibes — but it’s important that you don’t forget the first word of that title.
When she needs to, Doreen kicks serious butt. I mean, it’s one half of her catchphrase, and there’s an entire OGN about her beating up the Marvel Universe. So let’s finish with the song that should be on every Get Pumped mix, whether you’re going to the gym or heading into space to do battle with a planet-eating god. It’s unbeatable.
If you want to check out these songs at home or on the go, we’ve assembled a playlist of all the songs available on Spotify to make it even easier. Make sure to follow ComicsAlliance on Spotify, and keep an eye out for more comic-themed playlists this week.