Happy Feet is another animated movie about delightful animals having charming adventures (we’ve had a few of those this year, haven’t we?…2006 must going for the record) that I will not be seeing until it hits DVD (nothing against animated movies about delightful animals having charming adventures…I’m just not willing to pony up 9-10 bucks for the experience.) This one seems to be about singing/dancing penguins (see? I told you…delightful…charming…it’s all there.)
This soundtrack is, like so many others, a compilation of pop songs that may or may not fit together without the context of the movie. On the CD, they don’t flow all that seamlessly but, that said, the individual tracks are a lot of fun.
The disc opens with some dialogue from the film which flows directly into the beat of a fun, inspirational, snappy new pop song, “The Song of the Heart”, by Prince. The song features a smooth beat, tasty horns, and sweet female background vocals (and a vocal break by, I can only assume, one of the animated penguins from the movie.) It’s a charmer all the way around.
17-year-old Gia Farrell makes her recording debut with the spunky “Hit Me Up” (which is featured in the commercials for the movie.)
The rest of the new recordings here are covers. Pink takes a funky stroll with “Tell Me Something Good”, a Stevie Wonder song originally recorded by Chaka Khan and Rufus. Another Stevie Wonder song, “I Wish”, is given the full-on gospel treatment by Fantasia, Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams, and a gospel choir (the choir could have pushed a bit further down in the mix for my tastes but the ladies cut loose and the thing still works anyway.)
Some of the actors lending their voices to the movie take turns at the mike with varying degrees of success. Brittany Murphy is more than up to the task of covering Queen’s gospel-flavored classic “Somebody to Love” (she’s no Freddie Mercury on the tune but she has a strong, soulful voice) and later she has fun with “Boogie Wonderland” (originally recorded by Earth, Wind, and Fire with The Emotions.) Robin Williams cheerfully mugs his way through Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” (sung in Spanish.)
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, get a bit lost in a strange mash-up of Prince’s “Kiss” and Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” (they sound okay together but the arrangement and vocals, despite a promising beginning by a breathy Kidman on “Kiss”, end up seeming more suited to a Broadway show than in the same company with the sprightly pop tunes that dominated this CD.)
Another strange mash-up, Jason Mraz covering Steve Miller’s “The Joker” mixed together with Chrissie Hynde’s take on Bread’s “Everything I Own” (???), actually works against all odds. It’s a loping, fun pop song.
(Again, I’m presuming these mash-ups will make more sense when seen in the context of the film.)
The disc also features the Beach Boys’ chestnut “Do it Again” and the Brand New Heavies’ propulsive “Jump n’ Move”.
K.D. Lang closes the disc (well, before an instrumental piece from the soundtrack) with a version of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers/The End”, which is pretty enough (of course…it’s K.D. Lang) but kind of a somber way of ending the record (like the Kidman/Jackman offering, it seems a poor fit with the rest of the performances here…but, yet again, I’m presuming it makes more sense in the context of the movie.)
The Happy Feet soundtrack will indeed make you want to get up and dance…and there’s nothing wrong with that in my book.