Well, I purchased the original motion picture soundtrack of the upcoming remake of ANNIE that’s coming out next month. Mostly because I get a nice employee discount at Target and I’m currently following Sia’s work! Anyway, I’ve reviewed albums before, but I’ve never done a complete opinion piece. So please bear with me as you read on and (hopefully) enjoy my critique of this new spin on America’s favorite orphan! And make sure you comment with YOUR opinions.
“Overture” This is relatively short when compared to typical Broadway overtures, and there are New York sounds (like a jackhammer and cars) incorporated into this one. Somehow, though, it works and really sets the feel for the new setting of the movie.
“Maybe” and “Tomorrow” I’m grouping these two into one part because they are essentially unchanged from their original versions. Naturally, the vocals are different and even the music has a bit of a new sound, but the girls are all very good singers and reminiscent of the traditional “orphan chorus” from the stage play.
“It’s the Hard Knock Life” Speaking of which, there are no orphans in this new ANNIE. They are foster kids, and the lyric mentioning an orphanage in this song has been altered. I do like what they did with this song, although it’s perplexing to hear what sound like some electric drums.
“I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” Ladies and gentlemen, we have come to the first weak point in the album. I don’t know what’s going on in this scene, but it sounds as though Annie and Grace are talking to a robot. I don’t care for how this song sounds, and while Rose Byrne (Grace) has a voice that really suits her character, she on a whole is sadly underused.
“You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” Although this version is barely the original tune that we remember, I LOVE IT! It’s so fun and optimistic and Sia’s vocals are (as always) terrific. Definitely a highlight of the soundtrack, though I don’t know what context this number will be in once the movie comes out.
“Moonquake Lake” Okay, maybe Sia CAN’T spin EVERYTHING into musical gold. Again, I don’t know what is going on here, but the song itself is just…weird. Maybe Annie and Warbucks/Stacks are fishing in Central Park? Quite frankly, despite Sia’s vocals here, I can’t give this any brownie points.
“Little Girls” Oh no, what happened here?! I thought Cameron Diaz was miscast as Miss Hannigan from the beginning, and this song is just confirming my suspicions. The music of this famous number has been updated, but the sound is actually pretty catchy and fresh. It’s the vocals I’m having a problem with. I could even look past that if Hannigan were being played by a kick-butt character actor. But Diaz isn’t even that great of an actress…and parts of the song just sound nasal and soulless.
“The City’s Yours” This song essentially replaces “NYC” from the original, and boy do I miss it. Granted, it contextually would not have made sense in modern Manhattan, but this new tune has a big flaw. No, it’s not Jaime Foxx’s voice; that is actually quite nice. It’s the melody that is bad. I kid you not, the first thing that came to mind as I was listening was “Sexual Healing meets RENT.” It’s the flip side of “Little Girls”- good vocals, bad music.
“Opportunity (Film version and Sia cover)” I LOVE THIS SONG! This is easily the best of the new songs written for the movie. The lyrics are inspirational and the melody is lush and powerful. Honestly, this sounds like a contemporary Broadway ballad. It would have no place in the original ANNIE- but it is perfect for this adaptation. Honestly, “Moonquake Lake” notwithstanding, Sia Furler’s talent saved what could have been a disaster for the score of this show.
“Easy Street” Oh boy, do I have mixed feelings about this one. I should start by saying that this is my favorite song from the original. I was relieved they didn’t cut it from the new film, and granted, Cameron Diaz sounds better here than she does on “Little Girls.” But I do REALLY miss the characters of Rooster Hannigan and Lily St. Regis, who have been obliterated in the new story. And I also hope that the new character of “Guy” isn’t made into a love interest for Miss Hannigan. But if this duet and the next number is any indication…that may be where we’re headed…
“Who Am I?” When this song began, it actually prompted an audible “NO” from me. I can’t even give a fair assessment of it because I was so distracted by the fact that the song exists to humanize Miss Hannigan. And that gets a big seal of DISAPPROVAL from this thespian. She’s supposed to be a baddie that you love to hate. I swear, if they turn her into a sympathetic character, I’ll be super disappointed.
“I Don’t Need Anything But You” Aside from a last reprise of “Tomorrow,” this is the final song in the film. Fortunately, after the debacle that is Hannigan’s character, this made me feel a bit more positive about the movie. Annie and Stacks make a great pair, and we even get to hear from Grace again. I just wish she got to sing more. All in all, there is some pretty good stuff on this record, including a few lovely surprises. As I said before, they mainly came from Sia, but even most of the reinvented classics are worth a listen or two.