Anti-Oscar Album Reviews

    Barber Shop 2–

    Skimming the list of all-stars that appear on the soundtrack to “Barbershop 2,” the compilation doesn’t seem promising.

    Anything that involves 50 Cent typically assures mediocrity. In “Unconditionally,” 50 Cent performs with G-Unit and sounds like he is rapping with his mouth wired shut. The track’s infectious melody and beat can’t help its trite lyrics and lack of heart.

    Giving 50 a run for his money, the soundtrack also features an appearance by Sean Paul, whose awful robotic renditions of reggae stand untouched.

    However, these appearances stand alongside a cast of hip-hop heavyweights that resurrect the ruin to create a solid soundtrack. Every element of soulful hip-hop is present — from early Motown sounds (Mya, Keyshia Cole, Eve) to early bebop emcee style (D12, Outkast, Sleepy Brown).

    The soundtrack also celebrates pop diversity. Synthesized beats and incredible flow from Andre 3000 to Mary J. Blige emphasize the staying power within the record and underscore the artists’ individual impacts on hip-hop and pop music as a whole.

    — Richie Lauridsen

    Staff Writer

    Cold Mountain–

    If you have or expect to have a cold this winter, buy the soundtrack to “Cold Mountain.” You will be one of many, because not only is “Cold Mountain” nominated for an Oscar for best score, but the soundtrack is also being snatched from store shelves about as fast as Nyquil and Kleenex in the middle of February.

    That probably has something to do with the fact that “Cold Mountain” has a shiveringly good soundtrack. It aches in all the right places. It shuffles and soars and moans and forgives Jack White for all the dumb things he’s done since Elephant came out. The song White wrote for the album, “Never Far Away,” is as sweet and sadly playful as his songwriting has ever been.

    This soundtrack is a soothing history lesson, a warm retreat from the grinding machinery of the modern music world. Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of traditional folk music, this album is a good listen — its elements are as simple as chicken noodle soup and its magic is just as effective.

    — Ian Port

    Contributing Writer

    50 First Dates–

    Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starred in the loveable romantic comedy “The Wedding Singer,” and its soundtrack housed some of the most beloved hits of the 1980s. Both the film and the soundtrack were hits. Columbia Pictures is hoping lightning strikes twice with its latest project, “50 First Dates,” and while the film is doing well, its ill-begotten soundtrack takes one terrible idea — reggae covers of ’80s love songs — and drives it into the ground across 13 tracks.

    It’s not that the idea would have been impossible to pull off, it’s that Sandler and company haven’t chosen actual reggae artists to cover these songs. Seal? Mark McGrath? Jason Mraz? None of these artists share any musical quality other than the ability to butcher some of the loveliest songs of the ’80s through bad reggae imitations.

    311 plods through the Cure’s “Love Song” and destroys the mystery and darkness it once held, as frontman Nick Hexum is unable to even hit the notes Robert Smith once tortured. Rapper Will.I.Am and everyone’s least-favorite band addition, Fergie (of Black Eyed Peas), render Spandau Ballet’s “True” even more vapid than when it was first released.

    Only the real reggae artists, like Ziggy Marley, have any luck with their renditions, which sound genuine and are enjoyable, if not grabbing. The rest confuse covering a song reggae-style with completely stripping away from it anything that was musically interesting.

    — Billy Gil

    Associate Hiatus Editor

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