Supermodels may be anything but average, but they say it’s an accumulation of
little bits of average that make them paragons of pulchritude. Average angles, average
distance between the eyes—ok, maybe plastic surgeons would encourage a little bit of
an above-average boost in some regions—but you get the picture: the picture that most
attracts is the image that we know.
Pop music is much the same. Give me the familiar, and I’ll give you a hit. None
did it better than Eighties New-Wavers like Wham! and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Familiar
melodies, bopping beats and polished production—perfect for radio, or the catwalk.
Here, original cuts from such popsters are joined by the latest in techno-sampling and
some seemingly tantalising covers. And I say "seemingly" advisedly.
"Don’t judge a book by its cover" probably doesn’t wash to well with
glamour pusses of the fashion set, but like most tried and trusted adages it can be
extrapolated: "Don’t judge a cover by its CD booklet".
Interpretations of Call Me by the irresistibly funky Nikka Costa, and He Ain’t
Heavy . . . He’s My Brother should knock us out like a supermodel’s smile, but
they fail to glitter. Both artists are far too talented to deliver mediocre versions, yet
they are disappointing. Wainwright’s voice was a standout on the Shrek soundtrack,
and even sparkled among the many jewels of Moulin Rouge, but this seems the wrong number
for him (great song though it is). The piano chops and harmonies are grand, but he sounds
a little whiney carrying the tune.
As for the vanguard stuff: Moby does awful things to Michael Jackson—yes, even
worse than Jacko’s plastic surgeon—and you really have to wonder about an era
when a DJ who chops up Eddie Van Halen’s incredible Beat It solo and simply washes it
with reverb is more venerated than any virtuoso guitarist who can actually play such
music. Meanwhile groove merchants The Crystal Method provide plenty of energy, and a
typical lack of melody with their electronic beats, and Orgy deliver a super
post-grunge/metal track that has the usual lack of subtlety of its genre but is as artful
as it gets within the confines of ball-busting aggression.
Further variety includes the opening track of the Wiseguys with Start The Commotion,
replete with some rather tasty brass work and flute embellishments; and a very smooth
version of Love To Love You Baby by the evermore impressive No Doubt.
So, a bit of a grab bag of musical fashion that is compromised by the failure of its
most promising tracks to live up to their potential. I haven’t seen the film but I
believe it’s based around a supermodel out to prove that there is more to him than
appearances. Unfortunately, in some ways, this soundtrack is just the reverse.
Publication Date: November 1, 2001