|by Natasha Theobald
For those of you who mark your Saturday by reading the Sonic Death Monkey column, (I'm talking to you, Mom), I'm so sorry to be late this week. There were circumstances beyond my control. Mea culpa. Dispensing with that, this week we will give a listen to some AM radio favorites on the soundtrack for "Intolerable Cruelty," still in theaters, and lots of women and a few men who rock on the soundtrack for "Freaky Friday," coming soon to DVD. Enjoy (or loathe) them with me, won't you?
The soundtrack for "Intolerable Cruelty" intermingles easy listening all-stars from decades past with some fairly enjoyable tunes written for the film by Carter Burwell. If the desperately familiar picks are part of our cultural fabric, they are the section of double-knit, bi-stretch, highly flammable polyester from which mustard-colored leisure suits were cut, once upon a time. That's not to say there are no good or interesting tunes on the disc. It's just that the bad ones are so nausea-making that you may not stick around for the pleasant surprises. I might not have done so were it not for my dedication to sussing out the truth for the HBS/eFilmCritic readers who need to know. For my suffering, you can skip to the good stuff.
Let's start with the bad news. Out of curiousity, and no offense to Melissa Manchester, did anyone feel the need to ever hear "Don't Cry Out Loud" again in their lives, ever? Anyone? Anyone!?! This, once again, is the sort of song which hearing in the waiting room of the doctor's office makes you sicker than whatever brought you there in the first place. Similarly, does "Feels So Good" need to be ten minutes long? You may not be able to recall the Chuck Mangione song, but you would know it if you heard it. You've been hearing it in elevators for years. Why resurrect tunes better left in the AM radio graveyard? Who knows. Maybe there is some kitsch appeal for lovers of all things grating from the days of their youth.
Of course, there are some oldies included that are less moldy than the others. "The Boxer" from Simon and Garfunkel is a more welcome remembrance of things past. And, Edith Piaf sings "Non Je Ne Regret Rien" for some boldly defiant French flavor.
Carter Burwell's original music is, in turns, feisty and touching, giving what the mood or moment requires. In particular, the lovely tunes entitled "You Fascinate Me" and "Fully Exposed" are a welcome respite from the less lovable selections, bringing love and honesty into the picture, making it fuller and richer as a whole.
Finally, the pleasant surprises include a selection from Tom Jones from the early 90s. It's a funky, danceable ditty, "If I Only Knew," which opines "If I only knew what I could do to make you, make you love me." It mixes a James Brown-type groove with a modern sound and injects the disc with some needed energy and verve. The other great addition is a folksy, bluesy, acoustic guitar version of "Glory of Love" from Big Bill Broonzy. It is refreshing and unexpected and, at the end of the disc, it almost completely makes you forget how much you didn't like some of the other stuff. I guess buying this CD wasn't such a bad risk after all.
Moving into the future, which is to say now, we have great energy with the soundtrack from "Freaky Friday." The music is universally rock-worthy, and it grabs the listener and doesn't let go. The disc has many tributes/re-imaginings/covers of favorite tunes. For the most part, the offered versions give youth and energy, with all the due respect to the originals. My interest in the CD was piqued when I saw the track listing for Joey Ramone doing "What a Wonderful World." If that doesn't entice you, there are many other items of interest.
We'll start with the actors. Lindsay Lohan sings, quite well, the song "Ultimate" to open the disc. I haven't heard the Hillary Duff CD, but I bet a battle of the bands between those two could be really interesting. The other actor inclusion takes a snippet from the film and gives us Chad Michael Murray doing a little something with "...Baby One More Time." Let me just tell you, he is no Britney Spears. He may be equally dreamy to the Teen Beat crowd, (Am I aging myself? Does Teen Beat still exist?), but if he tries to be the next JT, it might be wise to watch the video with the mute button engaged. I think it was meant to be as comedically bad as it is. I'm just joshin' with Chad, silly.
Among the strong male voices, we have the Bowling for Soup rendition of "...Baby One More Time," which improves on Britney emphatically. "Happy Together" is redone with imagination and drive by Simple Plan. Andrew W.K. deserves all praise for "She is Beautiful," and Forty Foot Echo offers the closest thing to a love song, "Brand New Day," with ballad-like sentiments minus the slow dancing and sappiness. Diffuser gives us another thoughtful song with "I Wonder." Also, American Hi-Fi has found their way onto yet another soundtrack with the same song, "The Art of Losing," which remains good despite its seeming cinematic omnipresence this year.
In addition to the song from Lindsay Lohan, there are plenty of women who rock. Lillix puts an interesting spin on "What I Like About You." Halo Friendlies get all teen-angsty, in the best possible way, with "Me Vs. the World." Christina Vidal says "Take Me Away," and the Donnas take us "Backstage." Lash breaks up with one who doesn't know he is with a "Beauty Queen." Finally, Ashlee Simpson asserts that even the strong sometimes want you to "Just Let Me Cry."
This soundtrack will defy whatever expectations you may have of what another Disney Freaky Friday movie might sound like. The cool factor here is way higher than you might ever expect. This has earned a place in my disc changer for a good while. It truly rocks. It goes the distance. Feel free to insert the last article-ending cliche of your choice in this space. Just buy the thing.
Until next time...on time.
1. Simon and Garfunkel - The Boxer
2. Carter Burwell - Intolerable Mambo
3. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds
4. Carter Burwell - Hanky Panky Choo Choo
5. Melissa Manchester - Don't Cry Out Loud
6. Chuck Mangione - Feels So Good
7. Carter Burwell - You Fascinate Me
8. Colin Linden - April She Will Come
9. Carter Burwell - Heather 2 Honeymoon
10. Tom Jones - If I Only Knew
11. Carter Burwell - Love is Good
12. Edith Piaf - Non Je Ne Regret Rien
13. Carter Burwell - No More Working
14. Carter Burwell - Fully Exposed
15. Big Bill Broonzy - Glory of Love
16. Colin Linden - The Boxer
1. Lindsay Lohan - Ultimate
2. Simple Plan - Happy Together
3. Lillix - What I Like About You
4. American Hi-Fi - The Art of Losing
5. Forty Foot Echo - Brand New Day
6. Halo Friendlies - Me Vs. The World
7. Christina Vidal - Take Me Away
8. Chad Michael Murray - ...Baby One More Time
9. Bowling for Soup - ...Baby One More Time
10. The Donnas - Backstage
11. Andrew W.K. - She is Beautiful
12. Diffuser - I Wonder
13. Lash - Beauty Queen
14. Ashlee Simpson - Just Let Me Cry
15. Joey Ramone - What a Wonderful World
16. Rolfe Kent - Fortune Cookie?
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originally posted: 11/16/03 14:09:33
last updated: 12/29/03 19:57:03