This is one movie that doesn't need any help in the publicity department, but the soundtrack is worth a closer look. I would submit that the original Shrek was so memorable because of its use of pop music. As The Breakfast Club did for live-action movies, Shrek showed that well-chosen songs can add a lot to a cartoon's emotional impact. If you remember the scene in Shrek when Rufus Wainwright's "Hallelujah" played, you know what I'm talking about. For a movie about an ogre with a Scottish brogue, it was a surprisingly touching scene. And the music made it work.
Like millions of dutiful Americans, I have already seen Shrek 2 (thumbs up), and the music is even better this time. I'm not so sure you need to own this CD, as the songs are often best in 30-second doses, but there are a few keepers. Among the non-keepers is "Accidentally in Love" by Counting Crows, a band that should be filed under "used to be good." Still, the song is perfect when it kicks off the film -- heck, it'll probably be the radio hit of the summer. Then there's Butterfly Boucher's butchery of David Bowie's "Changes." Why not just stick with the original?
A definite keeper is the classic "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. Easily written off as fluff when heard as you run through the dial on your radio, upon a closer listen it's revealed as an insanely inventive song. "As Lovers Go" by Dashboard Confessional is great, as is the Eels' "I Need Some Sleep." Tom Waits ("A Tiny Drop of Poison") and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ("People Ain't No Good") even make appearances, attesting to the CD's wild mood swings.
The best song on the CD is Rich Price's "I'm on My Way," a folksy tune that captures the gruff sweetness that is the essence of Shrek. Price is a 28-year-old, Oxford-educated folk singer only two years removed from his debut CD.
Finally, as Shrek concluded with The Monkees' "I'm a Believer," covered by Smashmouth, Shrek 2 ends with a show-stopper of its own. Unfortunately, it's "La Vida Loca," sung by Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas. It's nearly unlistenable on the CD, but via the magic of animation, even a song so overdone as Ricky Martin's signature song will put a smile on your face.
Publication date: 05/27/04