Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Drew Barrymore, left and Adam Sandler dress up the "50 First Dates" soundtrack cover.

Hot ‘Date’
with reggae

Adam Sandler's movie turns out
a soundtrack that will pique the isles

"50 First Dates"
Original soundtrack (Maverick)

'80s rock ballads done with a reggae twist. Put them on a soundtrack of a major studio movie shot mainly on Oahu starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Hmmm, you think local music lovers might eat this thing up?

The soundtrack album features such artists as Wyclef Jean.

Well, if our island music and rock radio programmers were akamai, they'd be all over this CD like flies on rice. The first single off this album, dancehall crooner Wayne Wonder's cover of the Thompson Twins' pop smash "Hold Me Now," has been out since mid-January -- but it's not even the best track off the album.

No Doubt's Tony Kanal produced that particular track and, along with main co-producer Nick Hexum of 311, were handpicked by Sandler and company to pair the guest artists with the selected '80s songs, and overall they've made a good account for themselves.

While the album itself makes for a perfect soundtrack itself for a sunny Hawaiian day (bypassing the souvenir cutesy song from the movie itself, "Forgetful Lucy," written and sung by Sandler in his trademark goofiness), about a little more than half of the 12 songs are pretty near inspired reggae-ified versions of classic rock ballads.

One of Hawaii's favorite bands, UB40, gets represented twice on the soundtrack: The band's version of the Police's "Every Breath You Take" (one that should be getting major airplay on local radio) and a cover of their own previous hit "Breakfast in Bed" sung by Hawaii-born Nicole Kea, who used to be Nicole Scherzinger of girl band Eden's Crush. It makes for a nice female counterpoint to the original sung by Ali Campbell.

The Cure gets covered twice as well with 311's faithful cover of "Love Song" and "Friday, I'm in Love," sung by Alien Ant Farm's Dryden Mitchell. The latter song lends itself well to the reggae lilt, and Mitchell's vocal ups the happy and giddy quotient found in Robert Smith's lyrics.


Other songs that benefit from the rhythmic change include Echo and the Bunnymen's "Lips Like Sugar," sung by Seal in his familiar, light vocal style and including a dublike breakdown in the bridge by Mikey Dread; Spandau Ballet's "True" done in a bit of dwali-stylee by Will.I.Am and Fergie, both of the Black Eyed Peas; and inspired choices in Roxy Music's "Slave to Love" (sung by Elan Atias, of the re-formed Wailers, with background cooing by Gwen Stefani) and "The Ghost in You," the Psychedelic Furs' 1984 hit decently done up by Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath.

The remainder include Wyclef Jean and Eve's lively-upped take on the Outfield's "Your Love," a rather flat version of "Drive" sung by Ziggy Marley that doesn't even approach the emotion of the late Ben Orr's original vocal on the Cars' hit, and Jason Mraz's cover of "I Melt With You," of which the same can be said when compared with the Modern English smash.

One song in the film that did not make the soundtrack is Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's wildly popular rendition of "Over the Rainbow." What with its inclusion already in recent film, TV and commercial projects, I guess it could've amounted to overkill to include it on the album. Still, I would've gladly taken that over "Forgetful Lucy" as the final track.

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