While we await its theatrical release with baited breath, Universal Music
sent me the best early Christmas gift - an advanced copy of the soundtrack for Nine. The film, based on the play of the same name, is inspired by the story of legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini and takes place around the time Fellini underwent a creative drought making his acclaimed masterpiece, 8½. Replace Fellini with the character Guido Contini plus a very sexy female cast of award-winning entertainers as his lovers, and there you have the most eagerly anticipated movie musical in quite some time. Canada
Just looking through the album’s track listing, I could not help but be filled with curiosity how Pénelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson and the film’s main star Daniel Day-Lewis, would fare as singers. Nicole Kidman, many of us already know is an adequate vocalist as seen in one of her career best roles in Moulin Rouge. And well, Grammy winner Fergie needs no introduction.
Rob Marshall and John DeLuca arranged for the cast to record the film’s tracks in
late September 2008, about a month before shooting began. The results though are mixed, but there are some incredible surprises to be found. For one, Music Director Paul Bogaev does an excellent job setting the musical landscape of London in the ‘60s, when the story takes place. Day-Lewis is first introduced to us on Guido’s Song and although he is not blessed with an amazing voice, he still does a very credible job tapping into the psyche of a man in a midlife crisis. With the abundance of cast members the material is dispersed, meaning at most, the cast members are responsible only for one or two numbers each. Italy
Oscar winner Cruz is working with a paper thin voice, but delivers with conviction as sultry seductress Carla on A Call from the
. Folies Bergere is perhaps the soundtrack’s greatest performance alongside Fergie’s fiery Be Italian, as Judi Dench delivers pure Parisian ferocity as Guido’s confidante Lili. And who would ever have guessed that Kate Hudson as American film critic Stephanie, could belt it like a champ on Cinema Italiano? This track was one of the three new pieces which Broadway composer Maury Yeston made for the film. Vatican
Cotillard who plays Guido’s neglected wife Luisa is an incredible actress, but not so much a vocalist. The same can be said about the legendary Loren as Mamma. It is said that Yeston had to craft songs specifically around both Cotillard and Loren’s limited ranges. Perhaps I should really wait to see the visual pairing of the film together with these songs before commenting further as I have a history of falling in love with songs after seeing them in video form.
Ron Fair (The Pussycat Dolls, Christina Aguilera) remix of Cinema Italiano, which still wouldn’t have much of a place on radio today even in its reworked state. Surprisingly, The Noisettes also make a contribution on the charming Io Bacio, Tu Baci, in addition to a second contribution from Fergie, an okay updating of Quando Quando Quando. Newcomer Griffith Frank beautifully takes the reigns on his version of Unusual Way, sung by Nicole Kidman who struggles somewhat on her version. Although director Rob Marshall’s casting choices (not the material itself) account for much of the mixed moments on the soundtrack, it is still very much worth a listen. Nine – The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is in stores December 21, 2009. Grade: B
Also featured on the soundtrack is a
Also featured on the soundtrack is a
Kate Hudson give it her all on Cinema Italiano (Ron Fair Mix) (courtesy of Geffen Records/Universal Music):
Listen to actress