Various Artists - Minions: The Rise of Gru (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews

Various Artists - Minions: The Rise of Gru (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews
Helmed by Jack Antonoff, the ’70s-themed soundtrack for the children’s film features covers and collaborations from Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, Diana Ross, Tame Impala, and more.

Minions are—in so many words—Twinkie-shaped henchmen who love bananas, speak in gibberish, and have names like Bob and Kevin. In goggles and form-fitting overalls, they embody a childlike impishness while also possessing an unquenchable thirst for servitude, turning the many Bobs and Kevins into tragic figures if you think about it too hard and for too long. While the minions and their soft-hearted supervillain leader, Gru, always make a mess of world domination, in reality, the Despicable Me franchise has had no trouble conquering every sector it desires, from films to theme parks to the entire meme industry.

This is to say that there’s money in minions—just ask Pharrell Williams, whose soundtrack for 2013’s Despicable Me 2 brought us the flashmob-irritant “Happy.” Another Producer of the Year winner, Jack Antonoff, helms the soundtrack of the franchise’s latest installation, Minions: The Rise of Gru. (A quick plot summary for those who have yet to suit-up for a screening: In the 1970s, a pre-teen Gru gets revenge on a league of flamboyant villains by swiping their powerful stone, which one of the minions—a scene-stealing newcomer named Otto—misplaces after mistaking it for a pet rock and falling in love. Classic minions stuff.) Antonoff’s soundtrack is a fever dream of a lineup featuring a handful of artists who were actually present in the ’70s, a wide survey of this generation’s rising artists who take influence from the era, and some truly out-of-left-field recruits whose presence only highlights the unmoored absurdity of the project.

Like any decent soundtrack full of covers, The Rise of Gru has a few winners. Weyes Blood’s take on Linda Ronstadt’s No. 1 hit “You’re No Good” is a showstopper. Likewise, pairing Phoebe Bridgers with the Carpenters’ power ballad “Goodbye to Love” works well as her bittersweet delivery elevates the track’s inherent melancholy. Thundercat’s rendition of the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle” is the picture of space-funk heaven, while Brittany Howard conjures up soulful bliss on Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” that features original bassist Verdine White. Gary Clark Jr.’s spin on the Ides of March’s “Vehicle” is another faithful rendition that never veers too far from the source material’s tenacious infatuation and souped-up horns.

In spite of its stacked roster and hypothetically enjoyable concept, intriguing pairings are undermined by heavy-handed production choices. For some reason, Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” is covered twice, once by Caroline Polachek and then again by the Hong Kong singer G.E.M. Both versions reject the original’s ominous stillness in favor of slinky horn flourishes and lackluster vocal performances that erase any sense of drama. And then there’s the cover of “Instant Karma!” by Antonoff’s own band, Bleachers, which romanticizes his cosplay of John Lennon’s yelping vocals—as well as the saxophone as an instrument—at the expense of the track’s incisive commentary on ego. The irony is not lost.

The two worst offenders are reason enough to avoid The Rise of Gru entirely. If Kool & the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging” sold Los Angeles as a promised land full of “stars, movies, women, and cars,” Brockhampton’s rewrite of the 1974 classic makes the Sunset Strip seem like a boulevard of broken dreams. Interspersing the song with rapped verses of their own original lyrics—“Came a real long way to make it here/Ain’t no thing you could do to change it here”—conveys a profound sense of exhaustion. (According to Kevin Abstract, the song has been completed for two years, but “Hollywood Swinging” makes you wonder if the group decided to disband midway through recording.) Removing the joy from songs about big city dreams is a recurring theme: St. Vincent’s version of Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown” is soul-suckingly stiff with her vocals obliterated by a vocoder, a curse which also befalls Tierra Whack’s “Black Magic Woman.”

The soundtrack’s only moment of true glee is the Minions’ own rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia”—if your brain is full of holes, this will burrow right in like a worm to an apple. Representing the more tasteful side of the soundtrack is Diana Ross and Tame Impala’s “Turn Up the Sunshine,” an attempt at disco whose forced-fun vibes will likely earn its place on a few wedding playlists for the next three or four years. It’s a reminder that this soundtrack never needed to be an artistic triumph for any of the involved parties. On the Minions’ path toward world domination, all it needed was a hit.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Various Artists - Minions: The Rise of Gru (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews Various Artists - Minions: The Rise of Gru (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on July 13, 2022 Rating: 5


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