Saturday, June 23, 2012

VARIOUS ARTISTS "Rock Of Ages" Soundtrack

(c) 2012 Watertower Music

  1. Paradise City (Tom Cruise)
  2. Sister Christian/Just Like Paradise/Nothin' But A Good Time (Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin)
  3. Juke Box Hero/I Love Rock N Roll (Boneta, Baldwin, Brand, Hough)
  4. Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
  5. Waiting For A Girl Like You (Boneta, Hough)
  6. More Than Words/Heaven (Hough, Boneta)
  7. Wanted Dead Or Alive (Cruise, Hough)
  8. I Want To Know What Love Is (Cruise, Malin Akerman)
  9. I Wanna Rock (Boneta)
  10. Pour Some Sugar On Me (Cruise)
  11. Harden My Heart (Hough, Mary J. Blige)
  12. Shadows Of The Night/Harden My Heart (Blige, Hough)
  13. Here I Go Again (Boneta, Paul Giamatti, Hough, Blige, Cruise)
  14. Can't Fight This Feeling (Brand, Baldwin)
  15. Any Way You Want It (Blige, Constantine Maroulis, Hough)
  16. Undercover Lover (Boneta)
  17. Every Rose Has Its Thorn (Hough, Boneta, Cruise, Blige)
  18. Rock You Like A Hurricane (Hough, Cruise)
  19. We Bult This City/We're Not Gonna Take It (Brand, Zeta-Jones)
  20. Don't Stop Believin' (Hough, Boneta, Cruise, Baldwin, Brand, Blige)

Adam Anders--Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Bass
Peer Astron--Drums, Keyboards, Bass
Michael Landau--Guitar
Josh Freese--Drums
Tim Pierce--Guitar
Kevin Randolph--Piano
Brandon Fields--Saxaphone

...and too many background singers to list...

Okay...  There are three ways to look at this soundtrack...and the movie...and even the broadway musical, for that matter.  You are going to have purists who are going to HATE this, and there are people who are on the fringe who FREAKING LOVE IT because it sounds like Glee on steroids (and with bigger hair), and then there are going to be people like my wife who can't stop smiling when she hears these songs because they are familiar, comfortable, and given new life with new singers and new interpretations, sometimes created by "mashing up" multiple tracks into one song.  Where do I stand?  We'll get to that in a moment...

For those who are unfamiliar, Rock Of Ages is the story of an aging rock star (Cruise), a midwestern girl chasing her dreams on the Sunset Strip (Hough), a barback (Boneta) who works at a rock club owned by two shady businessmen (Baldwin and Brand), and the ultra-conservative wife of the city's mayor (Zeta-Jones), who is trying to shut down the club.  I'm not going to get into any plot details or anything like that, because they have little to do with the review of the music here.  However, it is key to understand that the setting for the musical/movie is 1987, and every single song here is from that era, and there are movie cameos from Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon), Nuno Bettancourt (Extreme)...and Debbie Gibson.

I know a lot of people are going to cringe as soon as they see that the actors are singing these songs and that this is NOT the typical movie soundtrack with the original bands performing their own songs.  Keep in mind, however, that this is a MUSICAL; the actors are going to be singing.  That's how it works.  Now, does that mean it works on all levels all the time?  Nope, not even close.  There are a few cringe-worthy moments here, but there are also some rather pleasant surprises, as well.  So, let's break this project down in that fashion:  pleasant surprises and cringe-worthy moments.

The pleasant surprises:

  1. Tom Cruise can sing.  There...I said it.  But it's true.  I was as shocked as probably anyone, but the guy does a more than credible job on the microphone, having put in a reported 5 hours per day on vocal lessons.  He is particularly good on "Paradise City" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me".  In fact, Def Leppard gave Cruise high marks for his performance of their megahit, which is a huge endorsement.
  2. Russel Brand can also sing.  I was really surprised here, but much like Cruise, it is obvious he took his singing seriously on this soundtrack and he really pulls off some solid performances, particularly.on the REO Speedwagon track and the Starship/Twisted Sister mash-up of "We Built This City/We're Not Gonna Take It". 
  3. Mary J. Blige is surpisingly convincing on her vocal contributions, especially since this is obviously not her musical genre.
  4. The musicians, especially the guitar players, are very faithful to the original compositions (except where some guitar solos are completely eliminated...see Cringe-Worthy Moments).
  5. Some of the "mash-ups" are pretty interesting to hear and very well done.  I was really surprised at how well the "We Built This City/We're Not Gonna Take It" combination worked, especially when both choruses are being sung at the same time. 

Cringe-Worthy Moments:

  1. Julianna Hough.  There is no doubt she can sing, but her voice sounds like a child made out of sugar and syrup...just too sweet for most of these songs.  In some places it's not overly bad, but as a general rule, it's almost like fingernails on a chalkboard to hear her overly-sweeten some of these classic tracks.  Her takes on "Sister Christian" and "Rock You Like A Hurricane" are particularly painful for me.
  2. Diego Boneta doesn't have any edge to his voice at all, which really sticks out on a song like "Jukebox Hero", which is one of the few songs I think is given a truly bad treatment here.
  3. Some song choices really made me shudder. What in the world is "Undercover Love" doing here?  I've also never been an REO Speedwagon fan of any shape or sort, but I guess the song makes sense here.  I also don't understand why Quarterflash's "Harden My Heart" shows up twice on the soundtrack, once as a full song and once as a medley.
  4. The exclusion of song lyrics (sometimes entire lines), solos, and specific song parts really bugs me, although it may make sense for the movie/musical.  It just makes it hard for me to sing along in my car...and that's frustrating.
So, after getting through all of that, where do I stand?  With which group do I side?  I tend to side with my wife and fall mostly in the "smilers" category, because it is fun to hear different takes on many of these songs.  There are moments, however, when I fall into the "haters" category, mostly when Hough steps up to the microphone and my ears fill up with saccharine and Jell-o due to the insane sweetness she liberally applies to each of her vocal takes.  (I still shudder when I hear her kicking off "Sister Christian", and I have to...I mean HAVE TO...skip it...).  The soundtrack is not going to be a frequent player for me, but I'm not going to throw it out or trade it off, either.  Take it for what it is and you will likely be fine; go in looking for killer new renditions of your all-time favorite songs and you will be sorely disappointed.  And, to the Glee fans...I can't help but think you're going to love this completely...

For you purists, keep an eye out, because I have a feeling there will be a second sountrack released (I could be wrong and have NO inside information regarding this, but it seems likely), as there are several songs performed by the original artists in the movie as well.  I know that Quiet Riot and Skid Row are both featured in the film, for example, among others.  That disc might be more to some folks liking...
I can't wait to see the movie, by the way...and I am not a fan of musicals, in general.

Rating:  I say rock this at a 6, but it could be borderline crankable without most of (not all of) Hough's work, here. 

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1 comment:

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