UltimateDisney.com Presents:
Walt Disney Records - Holidays 2005 CD Roundup


Nine new Disney albums reviewed, including Narnia and Chicken Little soundtracks, Christmas compilations

For the second year in a row, Disney has undone ten months of lackluster box office performance with two films released in the final two months. Last year's duo was National Treasure and The Incredibles, this year's pairing is the computer-animated comedy Chicken Little and the fantasy adaptation The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It makes sense that Walt Disney Records would capitalize upon the studio's two biggest successes of the year and accordingly, nearly half of this roundup's reviews cover output tied to those productions, three connected to Chicken Little and one to Narnia (two other soundtracks for it were not sent for review).

The remaining five albums are predominantly tied to the holiday season in more ways than just timing. Much like how Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) appealed to different demographics with its full slate of Christmas-themed DVDs dispersed on two fall Tuesdays, Disney Records has called upon the Disney Princesses, The Cheetah Girls, and the performers who populate tween-oriented Radio Disney to mark the holidays with their takes on classic songs as well as some new creations. Another release not tied to the holidays but geared at the preschool sect was a third Playhouse Disney album. Finally, in conjunction with BVHE's four Muppet movie re-releases on DVD, the soundtrack to the most seasonal one (The Muppet Christmas Carol) was treated to a low-key but noteworthy return to stores.

We at UD hope your Christmas season is filled with love and joy. If you feel that music should contribute to the equation, then read on for our earnest critiques of the nine most recently-released CDs from Disney's music branch.

Click to jump to an individual review:
Disney's Princess Christmas Album | Radio Disney Jingle Jams | The Cheetah Girls - Cheetah-licious Christmas
Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn with Music | Chicken Little: Soundtrack | Chicken Little: Read-Along | Disney's Karaoke Series: Chicken Little
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Special Anniversary Soundtrack | The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Soundtrack

Disney's Princess Christmas Album

Running Time: 42 minutes / Release Date: October 11, 2005 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
1) "Christmas Is Coming!" - Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty & Snow White
2) "A Holly Jolly Christmas" - Snow White, Grumpy, Bashful & Doc
3) "I'm Giving Love for Christmas" - Cinderella
4) "Christmas in the Ocean" - Ariel and Sebastian
5) "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" - Cinderella
6) "Silver and Gold" - Pocahontas
7) "Holidays at Home" - Belle
8) "The Holly and the Ivy" - Mulan
9) "The Christmas Waltz" - Belle
10) "Ariel's Christmas Island" - Ariel
11) "Christmas With My Prince" - Sleeping Beauty
12) "The Night Before Christmas" - Snow White, Grumpy, Bashful & Doc
13) "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty & Snow White
14) "Beautiful" - performed by Jim Brickman featuring Wayne Brady

The Disney Princesses have added Christmas music onto their collective resumé. A mix of traditional and new alike, these songs are recorded by the likes of Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, as well as Wayne Brady, apparently the newest inductee to the society of Disney leading ladies. (Actually, he sings a "Christmas" version of the Cinderella-inspired song "Beautiful" accompanied by Jim Brickman on the piano, the original version appearing on Brickman's The Disney Songbook album.) The CD itself is not half as bad as it could be. On the other hand, it isn't quite good either. Proper measures have been taken so that princesses who do not celebrate Christmas will likewise not have to utter that word in any musical context. Mulan sings a secular version of "The Holly and the Ivy" while Pocahontas croons "Silver and Gold" reworked for a more environmental theme. Although they go uncredited, it seems that the newer Disney Princesses (Ariel on up) have maintained their original singing voices. One exception is that Paige O'Hara (Belle) seems to have been replaced by the more pleasing vocals of Susan Egan (Broadway's original Belle and the voice of Hercules' Megara). The older princesses do not fare so well. While not exactly matching up to Ilene Woods' performance as Cinderella, the voice on this compilation (presumably Jennifer Hale of Cinderella II and other recent Cinderella-themed output) is capable enough and her rendition of "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" accompanied by crooning mice is one of the more enjoyable tracks. Snow White, however, is downright annoying, while Sleeping Beauty sounds more like an old lady opera singer than 17-year-old Mary Costa who provided her vocals in the film.

Nitpicking aside, the album does not aspire to be a great work of art, merely to please girls of an age younger than myself. To that extent, it succeeds well enough, earning credit for upholding the princesses' familiar voices (or similar-sounding replacements at worst), for matching each princess with a holiday song suiting her the best, and for creating original songs, which while not masterpieces, are definitely catchy.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney's Princess Christmas Album on CD from Amazon.com
Read UD's DVD Review of Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment

Radio Disney Jingle Jams

Running Time: 55 minutes / Release Date: October 11, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Someday at Christmas" - B5
2) "Everyday is Christmas" - Everlife
3) "Winter Wonderland" - Jesse McCartney
4) "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" (Christmas Version) - Disney Channel Circle of Stars
5) "Santa Claus Lane" (North Pole Mix) - Hilary Duff
6) "Jingle Bell Rock" - Aly & AJ
7) "I Love Christmas" - fan_3
8) "Feels Like Christmas" - Caleigh Peters
9) "One Way or Another" - Jesse McCartney
10) "Home For Christmas" - The Beu Sisters
11) "Sleigh Ride" - Jump5
12) "Toy Town" - Christy Carlson Romano
13) "Run Rudolph Run" - Aaron Carter
14) "My Christmas Wish" - Raven-Symone
15) "Christmas Past, Present, and Future" - Ashlee Simpson
16) "Why Doesn't Santa Like Me" - Skye Sweetnam
17) "Circle of Life" (Christmas Version) - Disney Channel Circle of Stars

Increasingly, Radio Disney can be seen as a subgenre of pop music. The network largely sticks with young pop stars on the teen scene, a few of which have managed to break into the mainstream in a big way. In this music, synthesizers and rhythm play a bigger role than vocals in everything but the rare ballad and its fans are likely more attracted to the production than the performance. That isn't a bad thing, though; feel-good pop or dance music certainly has its place. To that end, Radio Disney Jingle Jams delivers in fine fashion exactly what those familiar with the style should expect, accented with the festive merriment of bells and chimes. Every track is catchy and in keeping with the Christmas spirit with only two exceptions: Ashlee Simpson's annoyingly angst-filled "Christmas Past, Present, and Future" and the even more insufferable "I Love Christmas" by fan_3, for which listening to completion is a formidable challenge. Both of the Disney Channel Circle of Stars' Platinum-inspired Disney cover songs ("Circle of Life" and "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes") appear here in holiday remix form and each surprisingly manages to exude that festive feel despite having nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas. In all, the album offers nearly an hour of almost entirely pleasant listening and is accordingly recommended to anyone who doesn't despise the typical Radio Disney output.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Radio Disney Jingle Jams on CD from Amazon.com
Read UD's CD Review of Radio Disney: Move It!


The Cheetah Girls - Cheetah-licious Christmas

Running Time: 43 minutes / Release Date: October 11, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Five More Days 'Til Christmas"
2) "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"
3) "The Perfect Christmas"
4) "The Cheetah-licious Christmas"
5) "A Marshmallow World"
6) "Christmas in California"
7) "No Ordinary Christmas"
8) "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)"
9) "This Christmas"
10) "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
11) "The Simple Things
12) "Last Christmas"
13) "Feliz Navidad"

A project titled Cheetah-licious Christmas can only be taken so seriously, but even held to relaxed standards, the TV movie-spawned group's holiday album disappoints. Despite putting Christmas in the title, the Cheetahs take strides to cram as many conceivable wintry celebrations into their songs as possible while otherwise forgetting about lyrics in their untraditional songs (see "A Marshmallow World"). The three current members do show off a little vocal talent that is likely suppressed by the style of music but one needn't try hard to compare them to true vocal powerhouses; they do that themselves when they take on Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)" and fail. Most of the tracks are predictably average and while none of them put sanity on trial in the way that some Radio Disney output might, none of them stand out as worthwhile either. Even within the radio-friendly pop genre, there are hundreds of other Christmas CDs more deserving of attention.

UD Rating: ˝ out of 5

Buy Cheetah-licious Christmas on CD from Amazon.com
Related Items:
Preorder The Cheetah Girls 2 on DVD from Amazon.com
Buy The Cheetah Girls (Movie) on DVD from Amazon.com
Buy The Cheetah Girls: Songs From the Disney Channel Original Movie on CD from Amazon.com

Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn With Music

Running Time: 40 minutes / Release Date: October 11, 2005 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing:
1) "Playhouse Disney Theme" - The Wiggles
2) "JoJo's Circus Theme Song" - JoJo's Circus
3) "Hope You Like Spinning" - JoJo's Circus
4) "Stop 'N Go Pretzel" - JoJo's Circus
5) "Brush Your Teeth" - JoJo's Circus
6) "Clown Around" - JoJo's Circus
7) "Sharing With Your Friends" - JoJo's Circus
8) "Here in Higglytown" (Theme Song) - Higglytown Heroes
9) "New Friends (The Translator Song)" - Higglytown Heroes
10) "Friends Are Heroes" - Higglytown Heroes
11) "Ripped Pants Blues (The Tailor Song)" - Higglytown Heroes
12) "Hot Hot Day (The Lifeguard Song)" - Higglytown Heroes
13) "A Rainy Day (The Teacher Song)" - Higglytown Heroes
14) "Hey, It's a Brand New Day" - Breakfast with Bear
15) "The Morning Mambo" - Breakfast with Bear
16) "The Breakfast Song" - Breakfast with Bear
17) "The Koala Brothers Theme Song" - The Koala Brothers
18) "The Helping Song" - The Koala Brothers
19) "Rolie Polie Olie Theme Song" - Rolie Polie Olie
20) "The Twirl" - Rolie Polie Olie
21) "In The Wiggles World" - The Wiggles
22) "Wobbly Whoopsy" - The Doodlebops
23) "Together Forever" - The Doodlebops
24) "Woodland Valley Cha Cha" - Bear in the Big Blue House
25) "We're All Different" - Bear in the Big Blue House
26) "My Man Stanley (Theme Song)" - Stanley
27) "Just You and Me" - Stanley
28) "Q U" - They Might Be Giants
29) "Clap Your Hands" - They Might Be Giants
30) "Little Einsteins Theme Song" - Little Einsteins

While its subtitle Imagine and Learn With Music would suggest that this Playhouse Disney album is flowing with educational value, the greatest lesson it seems to teach is that the Disney Channel's preschool programming block is good. As such, the album should achieve its goal, assuming that goal is for these songs to get the not-quite-literate demographic hooked. While there are some genuinely catchy tunes among the 30 offerings (like the hygienic "Brush Your Teeth" number that JoJo directs at her pet lion Goliath), most will only be remembered through considerable repetition, putting the theme songs at an advantage. Unfortunately, the samplings hardly provide the best or most valuable songs from their respective shows, some of the tracks have already appeared on the two previous general Playhouse Disney soundtracks, and while the compilation does tout a full playlist, at 40 minutes, it may be too full for single-sitting listening for the antsy audience it's aimed at.

UD Rating: ˝ out of 5

Buy Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn With Music on CD from Amazon.com
Buy the Playhouse Disney, Volume 2 CD from Amazon.comBuy the Playhouse Disney (Volume 1) CD from Amazon.com
Related DVD Reviews:
A Very Playhouse Disney HolidayJoJo's Circus: Animal A Go-GoJoJo's Circus: Take a Bow!
Bear in the Big Blue House: Early to Bed, Early to RiseBear in the Big Blue House: Visiting the Doctor with Bear

Chicken Little: Soundtrack

Running Time: 39 minutes / Release Date: November 1, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Stir It Up" - Patti LaBelle and Joss Stone
2) "One Little Slip" - Barenaked Ladies
3) "Shake A Tail Feather" - The Cheetah Girls
4) "All I Know" - Five For Fighting
5) "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Diana Ross
6) "It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" - R.E.M.
7) "We Are the Champions" - Chicken Little
8) "Wannabe" - Abby Mallard and Runt of the Litter
9) "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" - The Chicken Little Cast
10) "The Sky is Falling" - Score
11) "The Big Game" - Score
12) "Dad Apologizes" - Score
13) "Chase to Cornfield" - Score
14) "Dodgeball" - Score
15) "Driving With Dad" - Score

For anyone who has made a habit of collecting the soundtracks to Disney animated films, the initial reaction to the Chicken Little soundtrack may be not unlike Jack Skellington's discovery of Christmas Town. "What's this? Pop song covers?" Have you made a mistake like the ignorant masses who assume all animation is Disney and bought a DreamWorks CGI comedy soundtrack? You have not, though Chicken Little and its soundtrack both seem decidedly in the mold of non-Pixar computer animation films, the success of which surely drove Disney Feature Animation to change mediums and make 2-D theatrically dormant for the time being.

While the pop artist end credits song (typically a rendition of a key tune) has been a staple of Disney's animation for the past fifteen years or so, Chicken Little takes an un-Disney route and has its characters goofily cover a trio of familiar songs -- Queen's "We Are The Champions", "Wannabe" by the short-lived mid-'90s British pop icons The Spice Girls, and the Elton John/Kiki Dee duet "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" -- while allowing two other well-known anthems to be delivered by reputable performers associated with them -- R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" as sung by Diana Ross. Musicians in various stages of current fame are called upon to perform original songs and still another cover: Barenaked Ladies (a band whose name you'd think would exclude them from contributing to G-rated film soundtracks) perform the fairly fun "One Little Slip", Patti LaBelle and Joss Stone make an unlikely pairing for the '80s-sounding "Stir It Up", and Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik sings Art Garfunkel's heartfelt "All I Know" (which feels tremendously out of place, but works on its own regard). Throw in six okay instrumental pieces from a score by John Debney (The Passion of the Christ) and you've got the four elements that add up to one of the flashier albums accompanying a recent in-house Disney cartoon.

UD Rating: ˝ out of 5

Buy Chicken Little: Soundtrack CD from Amazon.com / Download from John Debney - Chicken Little

Read UD's Chicken Little DVD Review


Chicken Little: Read-Along

Running Time: 16 minutes / Release Date: October 18, 2005 / SRP: $5.98

Voice Cast: David Jeremiah (Narrator), Zach Braff (Chicken Little), Garry Marshall (Buck Cluck), Patrick Stewart (Mr. Woolensworth), Joan Cusack (Abby Mallard), Joe Whyte (Umpire), Amy Sedaris (Foxy Loxy), Dan Molina (Fish Out of Water), Steve Zahn (Runt of the Litter), Mark Walton (Goosey Loosey), Don Knotts (Mayor Turkey Lurkey), Sean Elmore (Alien Kid), Evan Dunn (Alien Kid), Matthew Josten (Alien Kid), Fred Willard (Melvin), Catherine O'Hara (Tina)

Back before the dawn of home video, a read-along book and audio set was the surest way of reliving a cinematic experience. Nowadays, the format is a little unnecessary what with a DVD release of a film generally taking place mere months after its theatrical premiere. Even so, fans of Chicken Little, especially those just learning to read, will enjoy this fast-paced narration, complete with sound clips from the movie. As with the other recent Disney read-along CDs, the included book leaves a bit to be desired in quality and so much action is crammed into a mere 24 small pages, sometimes making the story hard to follow. Nonetheless, the cheap price tag might make it worthwhile for those little ones who are too anxious for the DVD release.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Chicken Little: Read-Along CD from Amazon.com

Read UD's Chicken Little DVD Review

Disney's Karaoke Series: Chicken Little

Running Time: 55 minutes / Release Date: November 15, 2005 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
Instrumental Versions:
1) "One Little Slip" (solo: male)
2) "Shake a Tail Feather" (solo or duet: female)
3) "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" (solo: male)
4) "All I Know" (solo: male)
5) "It's Too Late" (solo: female)
6) "I Will Survive" (solo: female)
7) "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (solo: female)
8) "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (duet: Male and female)
Vocal Versions:
9) "One Little Slip"
10) "Shake a Tail Feather"
11) "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
12) "All I Know"
13) "It's Too Late"
14) "I Will Survive"
15) "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
16) "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"

As the Sing Along Songs DVD that was scheduled to accompany Chicken Little's theatrical release was cancelled, this is your best way to hear the tunes from the movie and sing along, either with a CD+G machine for animated graphic goodness or the old fashioned way with the provided lyrics booklet. Disney has devoted a surprising number of albums to the Karaoke format, so there must be an audience for it and this disc seems like one of the better ones to get based on the diversity of the songs and the fact that two versions of each are provided.

If you're okay with dropping the tracks of John Debney's score and prefer to sing along than listen to the original performers, than this low-priced Karaoke disc may be the perfect Chicken Little soundtrack for you. It contains six of the pop songs new and old from the film's soundtrack plus two other karaoke favorites ("I Will Survive" and "It's Too Late"). Presumably, these two don't have anything to do with the film, but their inclusion is preferable to a six-selection album, although the absence of "Wannabe" and "We Are the Champions" (performed by Chicken Little characters on the soundtrack) is somewhat unfortunate.

Even those familiar with the eight songs here (and that should be most people) will probably do well to test-drive them with the second versions provided (the verbal track), because as Farley and Spade proved ten years ago, singing along with R.E.M. is tough enough and even having the lyrics in front of you doesn't make the instrumental track easier to keep up with. The suggested performers for the song offers a good mix of genders and numbers and these can easily be expanded or disregarded to fit the needs of your party.

It's too bad that Diana Ross' version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" isn't the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version - that'd make for a livelier karaoke track. As it is, though, the disc caters to your urges to sing along with the soundtrack songs and concludes with the thrill of you being Elton John (or a Chicken Little character standing in for Elton John, as the case may be), probably the apex of fun the disc offers. At its low price, this album promises a good time for anyone willing to make a butt of themselves karaokeally - the songs are conducive to the format, the substitute performers on the vocal tracks are capable stand-ins, and there's plenty of fun to be had even without a CD+G machine.

UD Rating: ˝ out of 5

Buy Disney's Karaoke Series: Chicken Little CD from Amazon.com

Read UD's Chicken Little DVD Review

The Muppet Christmas Carol: Special Anniversary Edition Soundtrack

Running Time: 42 minutes / Release Date: November 22, 2005 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing:
1) "Overture" - Instrumental
2) "Scrooge" - Cast
3) "Room In Your Heart" - Honeydew and Beaker
4) "Good King Wenceslas" - Muppet Brass Buskers
5) "One More Sleep 'til Christmas" - Kermit
6) "Marley and Marley" - Marley and Marley
7) "Christmas Past" - Instrumental
8) "Chairman of the Board" - Sam Eagle
9) "Fozziwig's Party" - Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
10) "When Love is Gone" - Belle
11) "It Feels Like Christmas" - Ghost of Christmas Present
12) "Christmas Scat" - Kermit and Tiny Tim
13) "Bless Us All" - Tiny Tim and Family
14) "Christmas Future" - Instrumental
15) "Christmas Morning" - Instrumental
16) "Thankful Heart" - Scrooge
17) "Finale - When Love is Found/It Feels Like Christmas" - Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Ghost of Christmas Present and Cast
18) "When Love is Gone" - Martina McBride

After years of being out of print and fetching ridiculously high prices in the secondhand market, the soundtrack to the Muppets' finest movie is back. Timed to coincide with the film's mostly pleasing Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVD re-release (with a matching cover and banner), this album delivers a low-priced and excellent presentation of the affecting songs written by Paul Williams (who co-wrote the top-notch tunes for the original Muppet Movie) and the atmospheric score by Miles Goodman, making it apt to join your Christmas music collection as soon as possible.

The fast-moving and witty tunes you couldn't possibly forget from the film are dutifully presented in their entirety: the chilling introduction to the miserly protagonist "Scrooge", Statler and Waldorf's amusing first haunting number "Marley and Marley", and the Christmas Morning post-redemption "Thankful Heart" sung by Michael Caine. The album's two best tracks capture the anticipation and joy of Christmas, respectively, in Kermit's "One More Sleep 'til Christmas" and the Ghost of Christmas Present's "It Feels Like Christmas." Even the smaller tracks offer plenty of fun, from the brass instrumental of "Good King Wenceslas" to the brief "Christmas Scat" performed by Kermit and "Tiny Tim" (i.e. his nephew Robin). Making for an appropriate album-opener, the "Overture" cycles through just about every musical theme in the movie to set the mood most satisfyingly.

The CD also includes a couple of songs that didn't make it into the movie - charity collectors Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker's catchy "Room In Your Heart" directed at Scrooge and schoolteacher Sam the Eagle's "Chairman of the Board" which is less memorable but should satisfy fans of the Muppets moralist. It also contains the solemn ballad "When Love is Gone" performed by young Scrooge's love interest Belle. This was cut just before The Muppet Christmas Carol made it to theaters, but has been restored for most subsequent appearances (including one of the two versions on the recently-issued DVD). Martina McBride's end credits take on the song, the album's final track, introduces a pop angle that feels out of place; you'd be just as well to stop the album before this or start all over again for the sap-free Muppet holiday fun that provides the disc's primary appeal.

In short, this soundtrack to a modern classic is a true delight in its own right, extending the film's musical magic and not at all demanding the Muppet visuals to provide a great time. It works just as well accompanying your tree-decorating festivities as it does with the Muppeteers' impressive puppetry. If you missed it the first time around, do not hesitate to treat your family to this album for Christmas present and many Christmases yet to come.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy The Muppet Christmas Carol: Special Anniversary Edition Soundtrack CD from Amazon.com
Read UD's The Muppet Christmas Carol: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVD Review
Read UD's The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas CD Review


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Soundtrack

Running Time: 71 minutes / Release Date: December 13, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "The Blitz, 1940" - Score
2) "Evacuating London" - Score
3) "The Wardrobe" - Score
4) "Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus" - Score
5) "A Narnia Lullaby" - Score
6) "The White Witch" - Score
7) "From Western Woods to Beaversdam" - Score
8) "Father Christmas" - Score
9) "To Aslan's Camp" - Score
10) "Knighting Peter" - Score
11) "The Stone Table" - Score
12) "The Battle" - Score
13) "Only the Beginning of the Adventure" - Score
14) "Can't Take It In" - Imogen Heap
15) "Wunderkind" - Alanis Morissette
16) "Winter Light" - Tim Finn
17) "Where" - Lisbeth Scott

The Celtic-inspired sounds of Harry Gregson-Williams' score are easiest to enjoy when accompanied by the wondrous visuals of Disney/Walden's spectacular big screen adaptation of the first story in C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series. On their own, however, they more readily demand attention and recognition while evoking plenty and conjuring the film's resonant images. The thirteen tracks of score cover a breathtakingly wide spectrum. Opening the album, "The Blitz, 1940" drops listeners into the peril-filled real world with which the Pevensie children leave behind; one can swear they hear the bomber planes briefly seen in the film's start. Other highly affecting tracks include "A Narnia Lullaby", the dream-inducing rhythm Mr. Tumnus plays for Lucy, the jubilant "Father Christmas", whose unexpected appearance is a highlight in the film, and triumphant, tribal "The Battle." There is only the briefest amount of Enya-like moaning in one track and the overriding themes are clearly different enough (like the movie as a whole) to distance Narnia from the widely-celebrated recent adaptations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy scribed by Lewis's friend J.R.R. Tolkien. The only other comparison one might draw is that the score is lightly reminiscent of the better qualities in the work of Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, American Beauty). The instrumentation does include a few jarring booms, which rarely translate well, but more significantly, it conveys the sense of childlike wonder which marks the source text and faithful filming. With the number of fantasy movies that have been made with memorable original music, Gregson-Williams' work on Narnia deserves praise for not sounding derivative or familiar at all. Its ability to stand out from the pack is but one reason for acclaim. The music earns higher commendation for its ability to be excite, inspire, and thrill as the movie calls for it.

Pouring gravy on an already delicious dish: four vocal tracks follow the score in a tasteful and appropriate manner. Imogen Heap's "Can't Take It In" aptly verbalizes the sheer volume of the imaginative world of Narnia. The name "Alanis Morissette" may not be one that seems like an obvious match for the material, but "Wunderkind", the song she wrote and performs, finds common ground between Narnia and her unique style. "Winter Light", performed by Tim Finn, sounds like it comes from a different era and different album, but Finn's John Lennon-like sound is not disagreeable. The soundtrack concludes with Lisbeth Scott's "Where", which is not featured in the film and is the weakest of the final four though not entirely without merit.

Those trying to keep track of all the soundtracks for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe may be glad to know there are only three that are actually tied to Disney/Walden's filming: last September's Music Inspired By album (released by EMI) and two versions of this soundtrack, a basic CD and a limited special edition soundtrack which pairs up the basic CD with a behind-the-scenes of the movie DVD and packages them both with a 40-page souvenir booklet in a classy, collectible way.

UD Rating: ˝ out of 5

Buy The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Soundtrack CD from Amazon.com / Download from Harry Gregson-Williams - The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Buy The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Special Edition Soundtrack (CD + Making-of-the-movie DVD combo) from Amazon.com
Buy Music Inspired By The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CD from Amazon.com
Read UD's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD Review

CD reviews written by Aaron, Renata, and Luke.

Roundup posted December 19, 2005.

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UltimateDisney.com's Top 100 Songs Countdown - Summer 2004
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