Shrek 2 [Original Soundtrack]

Following in the footsteps of the original Shrek soundtrack, Shrek 2 emphasizes the crossover potential of the movie and its music. Unfortunately, though, the album doesn't have as many surprises as its predecessor; none of the songs here have the same left-field feel as Rufus Wainwright's version of "Hallelujah" (or the John Cale version that actually appeared in the film), although Tom Waits' mischievous, middle-of-the-night "Little Drop of Poison" and Nick Cave's dignified ballad "People Ain't No Good" come close. On the other hand, Shrek 2 doesn't include anything as obnoxious or omnipresent as Smash Mouth's "All Star" or "I'm a Believer," although it does feature of plenty of covers, including Frou Frou's odd techo-pop revision of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero," which turns the song from a fun if overblown AOR anthem into a chilly yet slick lament. Butterfly Boucher's "Changes" and Pete Yorn's "Ever Fallen in Love," meanwhile, have the dubious distinction of being average renditions of great songs; not even David Bowie's cameo on "Changes" can elevate it (although his duet with Mick Jagger on "Dancin' in the Streets" remains his worst collaboration). And while Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas' version of "Livin' la Vida Loca" isn't as thorough a deconstruction of a Ricky Martin song as William Hung's infamous "She Bangs" (or as funny -- albeit unintentionally so -- as his own single "Party All the Time"), it is a dose of silly fun on a soundtrack that is sorely lacking that quality. Jennifer Saunders' "Fairy Godmother Song" -- which sounds like her Absolutely Fabulous character making up words to the Cinderella classic "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" -- and "Believe"-esque version of "Holding Out for a Hero" also liven up the soundtrack a bit. However, most of Shrek 2 features mopey love songs like Dashboard Confessional's "As Lovers Go [Ron Fair Remix]," the Eels' "I Need Some Sleep," and Rich Price's "I'm on My Way"; they reflect the film's romantic misadventures between Shrek and Princess Fiona, but these songs don't make the soundtrack an especially fun listen, particularly considering that the movie is, ostensibly, first and foremost aimed at kids. But Counting Crows' "Accidentally in Love" -- which sounds like a cross between one of their old hits and the BoDeans' "Closer to Free" -- and Joseph Arthur's "You're So True" are aimed at those kids' older siblings and parents, making Shrek 2 a lukewarm compromise that isn't likely to satisfy either audience. ~ Heather Phares

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