Artist: Various Artists

Information about the artist.

Works

Album:American Beauty: Music from the Motion Picture

American Beauty: Music from the Motion Picture

Thomas Newman, Various Artists

What’s the soundtrack for suburbia gone awry? Perhaps it’s American Beauty—the music for the dark Sam Mendes-directed flick starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. With its mix of classic and indie rock, the disc seems to reflect something for everyone (or at least those found in middle America). Bobby Darin’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is the epitome of unhip, Free’s “All Right Now” is a classic rock anthem we’ve heard way too many times, and Peggy Lee’s “Bali Ha’i” is vintage exotica at its best. But then there are some surprises: Elliott Smith’s…

Album:Moulin Rouge: Music from the Film

Moulin Rouge: Music from the Film

Various Artists

Nicole Kidman playing a singing prostitute? Ewan McGregor channeling the Police? If the soundtrack to director Baz Luhrmann’s freakish musical Moulin Rouge has its way, we’ll all be wearing corsets and swinging from the ceiling while the former Mrs. Tom Cruise becomes our favorite new pop sensation. As daring as Luhrmann himself, the compositions test Kidman—who could have easily used a league of backup singers and studio knob-twiddlers to hide her inexperience—and she actually passes. She’s no Olivia Newton-John, but she capably mixes Madonna’s “Material…

Album:O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Original Soundtrack

O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Original Soundtrack

T-Bone Burnett, Various Artists

The best soundtracks are like movies for the ears, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? joins the likes of Saturday Night Fever and The Harder They Come as cinematic pinnacles of song. The music from the Coen brothers’ Depression-era film taps into the source from which the purest strains of country, blues, bluegrass, folk, and gospel music flow. Producer T Bone Burnett enlists the voices of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, and kindred spirits for performances of traditional material, in arrangements that are either a…

Album:Big Fish: Music from the Motion Picture

Big Fish: Music from the Motion Picture

Danny Elfman, Various Artists

Director Tim Burton’s adaptation of author Daniel Wallace’s bittersweet Southern Gothic novel has been billed as his first mainstream character drama, a notion that conveniently ignores the story’s inherent fables and flights of imagination. But composer Danny Elfman understands their every dark nook and murky cranny with this magical, often deftly understated score. While the epic melodrama of his comic book scores (Batman, Spider-Man, The Hulk, et. al.) have made him a mainstream Hollywood music star, longtime fans know that the composer’s…

Album:Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar

Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar

Various Artists

A dozen of the world’s greatest instrumental Acoustic Guitarists tackle the most beloved melodies of legendary composer Henry Mancini. From the brilliance of Grammy Winning gutiarist Laurence Juber’s phenomenal display on the Pink Panther Theme to Ed Gerhards lovely arrangement of the classic Moon River….this collection will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart. Mancini’s melodies are so strong they adapt well to solo guitar whether it be steel string or nylon acoustic….and the finale is a brilliant duet on A Shot In the Dark.

Album:Livin', Lovin', Losin'

Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers

Various Artists

Given their impact on generations of country, country-rock, and bluegrass acts, it’s amazing the Louvins haven’t had a modern tribute before. Unlike tribute albums that stumble through inconsistent performances and ill-matched material, this one soars, the selections well matched to the paired artists. Joe Nichols and Rhonda Vincent capture “Cash on the Barrelhead’s” sassy humor. Emmylou Harris—who spearheaded the Louvin revival—and Rodney Crowell are relaxed on the Louvin hit “My Baby’s Gone.” Merle Haggard and the album’s producer Carl Jackson capture the…

Album:Timeless

Timeless: The Songs of Hank Williams

Various Artists

Like 1999’s tribute to Gram Parsons, Timeless: The Songs of Hank Williams revives the tired “tribute” concept and applies it in homage to a key figure in country music. Interpreting songs from across Hank Williams’s short and troubled career, a range of high-profile artists use different approaches with equally gratifying results. Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow and Hank Williams III play familiar songs with traditional arrangements (Ms Crow’s yodel is an eye opener); Beck, Mark Knopfler and Keb’ Mo’ stay closer to their own idioms. Keith Richards’ reedy vocal…

Album:Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

The soundtrack was co-produced by 10-time Grammy Award winner T Bone Burnett. Burnett, who co-produced the soundtrack with guitarist/songwriter Stephen Bruton.

Album:Forever, for Always, for Luther

Forever, for Always, for Luther

Various Artists

This star-studded smooth-jazz tribute to Luther Vandross adds credence to the idea that the saxophone is the instrument that comes closest to mimicking the human voice. The passion that these reed players—including Kirk Whalum, Boney James, Mindi Abair, and Dave Koz—pour into their respective tracks makes it seems like they’re speaking right from the heart. Guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. does a very funky turn on “Never Too Much,” and two of the most underrated singers in contemporary urban music, Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi, also provide highlights. But the sax…

Album:Kill Bill: Volume 1 Original Soundtrack

Kill Bill: Volume 1 Original Soundtrack

The RZA, Various Artists

Fashion be damned: Pop culture is just one big Hometown Buffet for writer-director Quentin Tarantino. Nowhere has that sensibility been more apparent than on his hand-picked soundtrack choices, and this oft tongue-in-cheek tale of a female assassin’s revenge (his first film in six years) is no exception. With dizzy, almost palpable glee, Tarantino evokes the international hall-of-mirrors influences that energize martial arts films and much of Asian pop culture in general. Thus the hip-hop of Wu Tang’s RZA (who, along with composer Charles Bernstein, concocts what…

Album:Chicago: Music from the Motion Picture

Chicago: Music from the Motion Picture

Danny Elfman, Various Artists

The movie version of Kander and Ebb’s Chicago was long in the making, but it’s well worth the wait. Director Rob Marshall’s main change was to turn the classic musical numbers into fantasy sequences, but of course this isn’t obvious on CD. Most importantly, the arrangements are bursting with life while being true to the show’s spirit, and the casting is simply inspired. Catherine Zeta-Jones actually started her career on the British boards (she was in The Pajama Game and 42nd Street), so her turn as slinky Velma Kelly isn’t that surprising;…

Album:Live and Kickin'

Live and Kickin'

Willie Nelson, Various Artists

The great Willie Nelson tends to either thrill or sorely disappoint, depending on the kinds of projects he takes on—and his decision to be either a musician or a celebrity. This live recording, culled from his 2003 USA Network concert event, unfortunately falls into the latter category, and Nelson sounds as if he arrived just before show time and plunged in without rehearsing. On the album’s opener, “I Didn’t Come Here (And I Ain’t Leavin’),” almost everything is wrong—the chorines, the overwhelming bigness of the production, and most troublesome, Nelson’s…

Album:Shrek: Music from the Original Motion Picture

Shrek: Music from the Original Motion Picture

Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, Various Artists

Like The Muppet Show or The Simpsons, Shrek is tiered with visual appeal, fantasy, and sophisticated humor that appeals to children and adults on two mutually exclusive levels. Judging by the soundtrack alone, there is some genuine emotion coming from this movie; Rufus Wainwright, the Proclaimers, and especially the Eels all pen winsome, longing tunes. Dana Glover’s “It Is You (I Have Loved)” represents the soundtrack’s requisite glossy ballad, but it’s better than most, and John Powell’s climactic, orchestral “True Love’s First Kiss” makes…

Album:Billy Elliot: Music from the Motion Picture

Billy Elliot: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

In a movie all about contrast, a unifying element keeping the emotional content together is essential. That’s achieved by a specific method of song placement. When we see Billy joyously losing himself to the rhythms of “Children of the Revolution”, it is not just a snatch of music bridging scenes. The movie is a modern musical, and these songs have to speak literally (as well as emotionally), with lyrics that explain what no one is actually saying. A group of Marc Bolan’s classics is therefore a stroke of genius as opposed to having new songs written. The other…

Album:Smooth Jazz Christmas

Smooth Jazz Christmas

Dave Koz, Various Artists

Cohesiveness is what separates this all-star Christmas release from the others. During the last four years, Dave Koz, vocalist Brenda Russell, pianist David Benoit, guitarist Peter White, and trumpeter Rick Braun have hit the road spreading holiday cheer among the smooth-jazz masses and their collaborative ease is palpable throughout these 14 tracks. Benoit is featured on “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” while Koz adds one of his best solos. Braun has the spotlight on “Little Drummer Boy,” where Benoit shines too, and White highlights “Silent Night.” All five…

Album:Buena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club

Ry Cooder, Various Artists

Ry Cooder’s name has helped bring attention to this session, but it’s the veteran Cuban son musicians who make this album really special. Reminiscent of Ellington in its scope and sense of hushed romanticism, Buena Vista Social Club is that rare meld of quietude and intensity; while the players sound laid-back, they’re putting forth very alive music, a reminder that aging doesn’t mean taking to bed. Barbarito Torres’s laoud solo on “El Cuarto de Tula” is both more blinding and more tasteful than any guitar showcase on any recent rock album; a…

Album:28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album

28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album

Various Artists

The soundtrack to the harrowing Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave) film features the lead track from the film, the beautiful “Season Song” by Blue States & tracks from Brian Eno & Grandaddy. The original score was composed by John Murphy, one of the UK’s most prominent film composers, & the CD is enhanced with unseen footage, film stills, & more.

Album:The 40 Year-Old Virgin

The 40 Year-Old Virgin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Soundtracks are all about setting a mood, so right away you know what to expect from one called The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Sure, it could try to portray the psychological complexity of the situation (though that would be a little creepy), but silly is definitely the safest and most-expected course. And “silly,” “safe,” and “expected” are the three words that best describe the The 40-Year-Old Virgin CD. You don’t need to see the movie to imagine what kind of scene might accompany Michael McDonald’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Lionel Richie’s…

Album:8 Mile: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture

8 Mile: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture

Eminem, Various Artists

How Eminem was able to assemble so many credible emcees of today and yesteryear (Jay-Z, Rakim) to endorse his Holly’hood coming out party is anyone’s guess. What is clear, however, is that (dare we say it) the Shady One might be growing up. On “Lose Yourself” Em abandons his callous, hardcore posturing to write thoughtful hood-centric coming-of-age lyrics that would make Melle Mel proud. On “Battle,” Gang Starr’s Guru tears through a sick beat from rap’s most prolific producer, DJ Premier. Sadly, Nas wastes more valuable studio time dissing Jay-Z (ho hum) on “You…

Album:Barbershop: Music from the Motion Picture

Barbershop: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Album:Because of Winn-Dixie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Because of Winn-Dixie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Winn-Dixie is a dog, the shaggy, adopted best friend of 10-year-old Opal (AnnaSophia Robb), a lonely little girl abandoned by her mother and largely neglected by her preacher father. Though director Wayne Wang’s film also features a promising character turn by pop star Dave Matthews, its soundtrack revolves around a core of bright, Southern-inflected performances by female singer-songwriters. The folksy “Opal’s Blues” by Vancouver’s Be Good Tanyas, sprightly “I’ve Gotta See You Smile” by Sixpence None the Richer founder Leigh Nash and an inviting contribution…

Album:Bend It Like Beckham: Music from the Motion Picture

Bend It Like Beckham: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Underdog athlete triumphs against all the odds and finds more than mere victory in the bargain—it’s a cinematic tradition that stretches considerably beyond the Rocky franchise. But this 2002 UK hit about an East Asian immigrant teen who dreams of becoming a soccer star puts a winning new trans-cultural spin on the formula. The film’s song-score is as savory, playful and determined as the film itself, a rich collection of mostly contemporary tracks that shakes up an evocative cocktail of pop infused with soul, club mixes, cool jazz, new wave, traditional…

Album:Breakfast on Pluto: Music From The Motion Picture

Breakfast on Pluto: Music From The Motion Picture

Various Artists

Album:Brother Bear: Original Soundtrack

Brother Bear: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

Album:Collateral: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Collateral: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Director Michael Mann’s gritty urban thriller revolves around a Los Angeles cabbie (Jamie Foxx) taken hostage on his late-night rounds by charming mob hit man Tom Cruise. Mann’s penchant for uniquely eclectic film scores has previously encompassed everything from the electronica-suffused world beat of Ali to the brooding, ambient post-modernism of The Insider. Here Mann effectively cobbles together an even more far-ranging musical landscape, one that echoes LA’s rich multi-culturalism (the savory, nouveau Latin rhythms of Guero Canelo’s “Calexico,”…

Album:The Color Purple (Various Artists)

The Color Purple

Various Artists

Album:Devil In A Blue Dress: Music From The Motion Picture

Devil In A Blue Dress: Music From The Motion Picture

Various Artists

Album:Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: Music From The Motion Picture

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: Music From The Motion Picture

Various Artists

With the soundtrack to Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, O Brother, Where Art Thou? producer T Bone Burnett has compiled another gently nostalgic gem. Filled with covers of jazz standards, sparse blues picking, and traditional Cajun pieces, Sisterhood matches Brother in ambiance and impeccable musicianship. The highlights are numerous: Bob Dylan’s lively song waltzes with a raspy narrative, Lauryn Hill uses acoustic plucking to complement her soulful croon, and Bob Schneider contributes an understated love-ballad rumbling with…

Album:Ella Enchanted: Original Soundtrack

Ella Enchanted: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

“Ella Enchanted” showcases a hot lineup that includes the film’s star, Anne Hathaway, who makes her singing debut by appearing on teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney’s rendition of the Elton John/Kiki Dee hit “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” Hathaway also performs bouncy covers of the 1976 Leo Sayer smash “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and the 1977 Queen hit “Somebody To Love.” All three tracks were recorded specifically for the film.

Additional highlights on “Ella Enchanted” include new tracks by singer-songwriter Darren Hayes, formerly of Savage Garden, (“Strange Magic”), punk-poppers Stimulator (“Magic”), rising new star Kari Kimmel (“It’s Not Just Make Believe”) and Radio Disney faves Jump 5 (who contribute a cover of the Katrina & the Waves’ top ten hit “Walking on Sunshine”). Ella Enchanted also features “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson’s stirring rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” Disney star Raven’s “True To Your Heart,” Bryan Adams & Andrea Remanda duet (“If You Believe”) and the Beu Sisters’ “Once Upon A Broken Heart.”

Album:Endless Love: Original Soundtrack

Endless Love: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

Album:Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: Music from the Film

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: Music from the Film

Various Artists

Album:Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Original Soundtrack

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

With his soundtrack for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jon Brion has carefully crafted music every bit as quirky (and fascinating) as the movie itself. As he did with Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love, Brion has made a varied score filled with odd instrumentation, infectious melodies, and at least one or two near-perfect pop songs. Best of all, these offbeat tracks compliment the movie incredibly well, and stand on their own as great listening. Mood-wise, this soundtrack is all over the map: "Row" is a simple, haunting piano solo; the…

Album:Everything Is Illuminated: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Everything Is Illuminated: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Paul Cantelon, Various Artists

“Everything Is Illuminated” is the directorial debut of actor Liev Schrieber and an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel. A blend of high comedy and great tragedy, the film tells the story of a young American man, played by Elijah Wood (The Lord of The Rings trilogy), who journeys to the Ukraine to find the woman whom he believes saved his grandfather from the Nazis all those years ago.

The soundtrack features two new songs from high energy New York City based gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, including one track not on their current cd. (Note: Gogol Bordello’s lead singer plays a role in “Everything Is Illuminated”). Also included are gypsy folk songs from Russia and the Ukraine by Leningrad, Arkadie Severmie, Csokolom and Tin Hat Trio. And finally, Paul Cantelon’s ethnic score ties together this nicely cohesive soundtrack.

Album:Holes: Original Soundtrack

Holes: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

The movie is about holes—specifically, a bunch of kids forced to dig them. Something else worth digging is the film’s soundtrack. Few of the 15 ultra-accessible songs miss their mark. Big-name artists Shaggy, Moby, and the Eels keep the kids hopping, while a heap of lesser-known acts also make impressive contributions, most notably Pepe Deluxe (the from-Mars-sounding “Everybody Pass Me By”) and the D-tent Boys (the irresistibly fun “Dig It”). It wouldn’t be a Disney soundtrack without a wannabe or two, and for that we have a sprinkling of flimsy rock and…

Album:Hotel Rwanda: Music from the Film

Hotel Rwanda: Music from the Film

Various Artists

The true-life account of Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) and his courageous efforts to shield a thousand refugees from the genocide that swept his country in 1994 features a soundtrack that evokes both a range of rich African musical traditions and the horror of ancient tribal tensions pushed to a murderous breaking point. Afro Celt Sound System’s “Mama Ararira” medley sets the tense, haunting dramatic tone, while a pair of contributions from group vocalist Dorothea Munyaneza underscore the innocent humanity at the heart of the tragedy.…

Album:Hustle & Flow: Music from the Motion Picture

Hustle & Flow: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

“Everybody wanna be the king of the South” rhymes the P$C crew (featuring T.I. and Lil Scrappy), kicking off the Hustle & Flow soundtrack with the amped-up “I’m A King” remix. This film, about a Memphis hustler trying to become a respected rapper, won the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and appropriately, the soundtrack has the hottest dirty South (a.k.a. crunk) songs around. Lead actor Terrence Howard is a double-threat, not just playing up-and-coming rapper DJay, but also performing on a number of tracks in character. From the…

Album:Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Jive Records again draws heavily on its roster of teen-pop stars and wannabes for this Nickelodeon film’s soundtrack album. The disc offers various tracks by ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys, while 13-year-old Aaron Carter delivers more mock-boasts and party-boyisms on three cuts, including “Go Jimmy Jimmy.” The cheerleading doesn’t stop there, as vintage punk-pop from the Ramones (“Blitzkrieg Bop”) and Go-Go’s (“We Got the Beat”) and a remake of Kim Wilde’s early-’80s hit “Kids in America” by No Secrets help fill out the disc. (Yet another new…

Album:Kill Bill: Volume 2 Original Soundtrack

Kill Bill: Volume 2 Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

In many ways, the soundtracks that director Quentin Tarantino commissions are as iconic as his films, and Kill Bill Volume 2is no different. The combination of dialogue snippets and songs reflect the atmosphere of cold-blooded revenge that’s the central theme of the film. And, as expected from Tarantino’s soundtracks, there’s been some clever digging through the archives once again. Wisely, there are three tracks from legendary soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone, who made his reputation with his spacious Western epics, all of which add some heavy menace. And rockabilly has rarely sounded as threatening as the reverb-heavy Charlie Feathers’ track “Can’t Hardly Stand It”. Perfectly complementing the dust-and-tumbleweeds on offer is “A Satisfied Mind”, from Johnny Cash’s acclaimed Rick Rubin-produced later years, weighing the soundtrack down with even more gravity. Kill Bill Volume 2 is rarely a jolly listening experience, but that’s very much to its credit. Tarantino’s previous soundtracks have often veered rather too close to the cartoonish, mixing levity with brutality; Kill Bill Volume 2 remains stone-cold throughout. —Robert Burrow

Album:Lilo & Stitch: Original Soundtrack

Lilo & Stitch: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

If you thought Stitch was a ball of fire, wait till you see your kids bobbing, bouncing, and breaking bad to this soundtrack. The kid/Elvis Presley connection is by now a known quantity (check out the many kid-specific compilations devoted to the King), and the songs selected here couldn’t make better sense—”Stuck on You” sends ‘em out on the living-room dance floor and serves as this shake-and-shimmy session’s starter course; “Suspicious Minds” blows off its paranoia for packs of precocious lip-synchers; “Heartbreak Hotel” will have to adjust its check-out time;…

Album:Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Writer-director Guy Ritchie’s street-tough look at London’s decrepit underworld and the unsavory dealings of four best friends whose cockiness is undercut by some serious trouble features a soundtrack of quick dialogue sound clips, a smattering of classic rock, pop, and reggae, and a few current submissions as well. Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves,” known most to rock audiences by the Clash cover, is a great piece of political resistance and laidback dub groove. James Brown’s “The Payback” and “The Boss” and Iggy and the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” stake…

Album:Love Actually: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Love Actually: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Noted English screenwriter Richard Curtis makes his directorial bow with this romantic comedy that follows the dizzying foibles of no less than a dozen couples, featuring a cast that includes Hugh Grant as a bachelor British PM and Billy Bob Thornton as a disturbing hybrid of the worst of Clinton and Bush. Seemingly taking its lead from Bridget Jones’s Diary and its sequel (both of which Curtis also wrote), Love’s rich, eclectic collection of pop songs becomes something more than mere movie-soundtrack wallpaper. Indeed, tracks as disparate as Joni…

Album:The Mambo Kings: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Mambo Kings: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Ten of the 13 tracks here are from the great Machito and his orchestra, which featured Mario Bauza and Charlie Parker as well the lesser-known but legendary Chano Pozo and Jose Mangual. Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, including Quincy Jones and Mongo Santamaria, contribute the 16-minute "Manteca Suite." Other highlights include the first-ever-recorded Cuban jam session--"Con Poco Coco" by Andre's All Star--and "Cubop City" by Howard McGhee and his Afro-Cuboppers (basically Machito and his orchestra). These historical recordings come from the third stage of…

Album:Memento: Music for and Inspired by the Film

Memento: Music for and Inspired by the Film

David Julyan, Various Artists

The challenge for young filmmakers tackling genre pieces is often considerably more than breathing new life into old familiarities. In the tradition of John Boorman’s Point Blank, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey, sophomore English director Christopher Nolan’s film noir whodunit doesn’t so much deconstruct traditional narrative as shatter it outright, challenging viewers to examine the broken pieces from fresh perspectives. Musically, Nolan has again turned to David Julyan, the young Brit composer who also…

Album:Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture

Various Artists

This Clint Eastwood vanity-project was one of the biggest box office disappointments of 1997, despite a masterful performance by Kevin Spacey, Eastwood’s typically subtle direction and, to these ears anyway, one of the most satisfying collections of songs gathered in service of a film in many a year. It didn’t hurt that they were all penned by the late, great Johnny Mercer (a native of Savannah, GA, the film’s locale and most crucial, underrated element) and with the exception of Tony Bennett’s “I Wanna Be Around” and Sinatra’s classic “Summer Wind,” were…

Album:The Mighty Quinn: Original Soundtrack

The Mighty Quinn: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

Album:Murderball: Music from the Film

Murderball: Music from the Film

Various Artists

Album:My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Music from the Motion Picture

My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Ask anyone who’s attended one and they’ll tell you: there’s nothing quite as colorful—and emotionally melodramatic—as a Greek wedding. Based on Winnipeg actress-comedian Nia Vardalos’s one-woman show and brought to the screen by Rita Wilson and husband Tom Hanks, the film tells (with some parallels to Moonstruck) the story of a thirtysomething Greek spinster for whom falling in love with a “Xeno” (non-Greek) is surely the easiest part of a wedding that more than lives up to its billing. The film’s soundtrack perfectly captures those swirling clouds of…

Album:The Polar Express: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Polar Express: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

In adapting Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved, 1986 Caldecott Medal winning children’s Christmas fable, director Robert Zemeckis fused the technologies of live-action motion capture and CGI to an unprecedented degree, producing a visual sensibility that perfectly embodies the netherworld between fantasy and reality that made the book so inviting. Musically, Zemeckis has shrewdly teamed longtime collaborator Alan Silvestri with hit tunesmith Glen Ballard for the original half his soundtrack, then given the rest over to a star-packed tribute to pop Christmas past that…

Album:The Producers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Producers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

As Mel Brooks’s The Producers returns to the big screen where it began, this soundtrack completes a trilogy of sorts that also includes the original 1968 movie soundtrack and the 2001 original cast recording. Broadway director Susan Stroman is still at the helm, and budgets being larger in Hollywood than on the Great White Way, Douglas Besterman polishes his own orchestrations to a luscious sheen. The Broadway principals also make the trip, including leads Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom; both could probably play these…

Album:Queen of the Damned: Music from the Motion Picture

Queen of the Damned: Music from the Motion Picture

Jonathan Davis, Richard Gibbs, Various Artists

Befitting the film’s hip goth vibe, its accompanying soundtrack is suitably dark and sexy, with a strong mix of new songs and nü-metal hits. In an interesting move, Korn frontman Jonathan Davis collaborated with composer (and former Oingo Boingo keyboardist) Richard Gibbs on 5 of the CD’s 14 tracks, though Davis doesn’t sing his songs. Instead, taking those duties are Static-X’s Wayne Static on “Not Meant for Me,” Disturbed’s David Draiman on “Forsaken,” Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington on “System,” Marilyn Manson on “Redeemer,” and Orgy’s Jay Gordon on “Slept So…

Album:Run Lola Run: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Run Lola Run: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

German film Run Lola Run has been compared to a 70-minute rock video: nonstop action and music, and (for better or worse) not a whole lot of plot. But the premise works, as does the film’s high-energy techno soundtrack. Most of the tunes on this disc are credited to the trio of Tykwer/Klimek/Heil—the threesome of film director Tom Tykwer, techno producer John Klimek, and Rynhold Heil (best known as the producer of German pop import 99 Luftballons by Nena). Included are several remixes of the movie’s main themes, the bass-heavy “Rock Me” by Pills,…

Album:A Scanner Darkly: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

A Scanner Darkly: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Album:Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Soundtrack

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Beck, Sex Bob-Omb, Various Artists

Original soundtrack to the 2010 motion picture features four new songs by Beck under the guise of Sex Bob-omb and two versions of a totally new Beck track. Also on the soundtrack are tracks by indie heroes Broken Social Scene, Beachwood Sparks and Frank Black—alongside classic Rock anthems from stalwarts Rolling Stones and T.Rex plus a stellar inclusion from Britpop kings The Bluetones.

Album:Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack

Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

While it lacks some of the innocent charm of Pixar’s similarly oceanic-themed Finding Nemo, Dreamworks’ computer animated fish opera works from a more adult source, spoofing Coppola’s The Godfather with an impressive array of all-star vocal talents. Its soundtrack may be one of the film’s most consistently successful elements, a party-ready mix of contemporary r&b and hip-hop lite. Two of the highlights here are rooted in a 1970s disco groove: Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott take a slinky cruise through a beat-drenched take on “Car Wash,” while…

Album:The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Various Artists

Where the film “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” follows the transformative events in the lives of four young women, the album mirrors the its emotional arc with vibrant new music from a roster of vital emerging female artists. “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants—Music From The Motion Picture” includes songs from the literate and reflective singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata (“Be Be Your Love”), the roots-rockin’ and passionate Shannon Curfman (“Sun’s Gonna Rise”), the multiple Brit Award nominee Natasha Bedingfield (“Unwritten”), 17-year-old singer-songwriter Alana Grace (“Black Roses Red”), “Blender Magazine”’s “Next Big Thing” vocalist Katy Perry (“Simple”), “Rolling Stone” “Artist To Watch” Brandi Carlile (“Closer To You”), and So Cal all-girl buzz band The Valli Girls (“Always There In You”).

Album:Sophie's Choice: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Sophie's Choice: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Various Artists

Album:The Squid and the Whale: Soundtrack to the Motion Picture

The Squid and the Whale: Soundtrack to the Motion Picture

Various Artists

The soundtrack to The Squid and the Whale will probably be most enjoyed by the cynical, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. In fact, it’s a nice intro to some ‘60s and ‘70s folk. British musical legend Bert Jansch appears here as does John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. (To rely on cliché: Phillips’ “Holland Tunnel” is a forgotten road trip-ready gem.) However, the really on-point songs come from Loudon Wainwright III and his former wife and sister-in-law, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, respectively. Anna M’s brutal “Heart Like a Wheel” tells a story of…

Album:Stuart Little 2: Music from and Inspired By

Stuart Little 2: Music from and Inspired By

Various Artists

Album:Super Size Me: A Soundtrack of Epic Portions

Super Size Me: A Soundtrack of Epic Portions

Various Artists

Album:The Jackal: Music from and Inspired By

The Jackal: Music from and Inspired By

Various Artists

The Richard Gere/Bruce Willis bomb was destined for a quick exit from the big screen, which is too bad since this is an exemplary sampler of up-to-the-minute electronica. Norman Cook (ex-Housemartins/Beats International) reemerges here as Fatboy Slim, neatly sampling The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” for lead track “Going Out of My Head.” And tracks by Prodigy, Bush, Moby, Lunatic Calm, and Black Grape’s pro-pot anthem “Get Higher” (which craftily subverts a comment by Ronald Reagan) keep the pace jumping. —Jeff Bateman

Album:This Boy's Life: Music from the Motion Picture

This Boy's Life: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Album:Treasure Planet: Original Soundtrack

Treasure Planet: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

Not exactly the most seamless adaptation ever attempted, this animated version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic swashbuckler (now set in outer space, even if the “ships” appear inexplicably unchanged since the 18th century) at least benefited from Disney’s always high production standards. Those factors also insure that James Newton Howard’s orchestral score is serviceably effervescent and retro enough for the film’s storytelling gambit—if still a long way from the heights of Korngold’s triumphant, genre-defining music for The Sea Hawk and other Errol…

Album:Under Suspicion: Music from the Motion Picture

Under Suspicion: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Album:The Wild Thornberrys Movie: Music from the Motion Picture

The Wild Thornberrys Movie: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Eliza Thornberry and her simian pal Darwin take on an African safari, evil poachers, and a London boarding school in Eliza’s big-screen debut. That’s quite a tall order for a 12-year-old—and a movie soundtrack—to handle, but like the dynamic tween, The Wild Thornberrys Movie delivers. Youssou N’ Dour and Sting, Angelique Kidjo with Dave Matthews and Las Hijas del Sol contribute world music celebrations flavored with exotic percussion and soulful vocals, while Baha Men skid around on the manic pace of reggae-pop with “Accident.” Paul Simon’s…

Album:Wonder Boys: Music from the Motion Picture

Wonder Boys: Music from the Motion Picture

Various Artists

Director Curtis Hanson chooses a lineup of vintage rock and R&B for the musical side of his screen adaptation of Michael Chabon’s brilliant Wonder Boys. Foremost is Bob Dylan, who contributes a new rocker, “Things Have Changed,” as well as cuts from Blood on the Tracks, Oh Mercy, and Time Out of Mind. These 13 cuts do a fine job of limning Michael Douglas’s lead character’s confusion, regret, and weary-to-the-bone ambivalence. Smartly sequenced—soul giants Little Willie John and Clarence Carter fit perfectly alongside the likes of…

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