Fame [Lakeshore Soundtrack]

With the success of franchises like High School Musical and the continuing popularity of films about hard-luck kids with dreams to sing and dance, a version of Fame retooled for the Radio Disney generation was inevitable. However, the soundtrack to the 2009 remake of Fame isn't a strict reworking of the 1980 musical's songs -- along with adding new songs and standards, it also includes pop songs, making it a strange hybrid of musical soundtrack, Broadway revue, and a soundtrack to films like Step Up and Stomp the Yard. Only a few of the original musical's songs survived the retooling, including the show's indelible theme song and "Out Here on My Own," both of which are performed by Naturi Naughton, who does a fine job with both even if she doesn't yet have the warmth and presence of Irene Cara. Fame's new songs capture the look-at-me spirit of the musical, if not the exact sound; Asher Book's interpretation of John Legend's "Ordinary People" feels descended from a long line of piano-driven show tune ballads, while "This Is My Life" and "Street Hustlin'" would sound like the music for big production numbers no matter when they were recorded. A strong dance-pop influence makes itself known on tracks like "Can't Hide from Love" and "Back to Back," which ties in with the inclusion of the Switch & Sinden remix of Santigold's "You'll Find a Way" and Sam Sparro's "Black & Gold." Ironically, Megan Mullally's take on Rodgers & Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me" might be the most jarring song here, if only because it's one of a few tried-and-true show tunes here, along with a pointedly retro version of "You Made Me Love You." At times, this Fame feels like it's trying to be all things to all audiences, but it still manages to be a crowd-pleaser. ~ Heather Phares

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