July 5, 2009

CD Review: Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen the Album

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the first sequel to the box office juggernaut Transformers has just been released. In its first five days of release, it has taken in a massive $200 million. Hard to believe, isn't it? Well, the suits-that-be knew they had a behemoth on their hands and decided that they needed a collection of tunes from hot bands to bundle together and sell to the teens who have just been stunned into an awestruck state. They won't know what they're buying until it is too late, by then the money will be out of the kids' hands and into the suits' pockets, leaving the teens with a mediocre collection of mid-tempo tunes. It is a shame to, it sometimes feels like the art of the soundtrack is dying and is treated properly by very few.

That's right, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the Album is very middling in content with very little variety. All of the songs have a similar sound and a similar pace, right down the middle. The focus seems to be on trying to learn towards some sort of faux emotional impact with the likes of Theory of a Deadman, Green Day, and Cavo. I wonder if they thought the inclusion of these tunes would make up for the soulless script? You know, step in and create an emotional center where none is to be found. Too bad this collection's center does not have much of a center either.

Another odd thing about this soundtrack is that five of the songs are not even in the movie. Why have them at all? The only thing I can guess is they did not have enough songs in the album to fill out the release, so they went and got a few more like-sounding cuts. This is far from the first time I have seen this, and it never fails to puzzle me. A few will get artists to contribute new tunes and use the "Inspired by" tag, but that is not the case here.

As I listen to the album, it becomes abundantly clear that I am not the target audience for the release (you could probably tell that already). It is not that I have anything against any of these bands, it is more the bland way the soundtrack is put together, the lack of any real variation in the sound, and the way it is constructed around a couple hot bands.

None of the songs really stand out from the crowd. It is similar to listening to Top 40 radio, everything plays towards the middle, nothing jumping out and grabbing your attention (no wonder I avoid the radio).

It may seem like I am being overly harsh on the album, and that may be a little bit true as some of my distaste for the film is spilling over onto a new target. I do not mean to be. When it comes right down to it, this is a soundtrack where the sum is considerably less than the sum of its parts. There are a couple of decent songs on here, nothing mind blowing, but still songs that are worth a listen.

The disk opens with the movie's signature song, "New Divide" by Linkin Park. I am not the biggest fan of them, but this song strikes the right chord for the movie with its heroic sounding flow. This song also appears on the score album, integrated into one of Steve Jablonsky's cues. It is followed by Green Day's "21 Guns," a tune that just grates on me. It sounds like they are trying to be Weezer and failing. Cavo provides track three, and it is not a terribly good song, but the vocals are pretty good and strike me as one of the more genuine performances on the album.

Surprisingly, Nickelback delivers one of the more satisfying songs here. I say surprising because I do not think they are a particularly good band. The song is "Burn it to the Ground" and it is the only one that really attempts to inject some fire into the soundtrack. It has a surprisingly heavy (relatively speaking, of course) rhythm that is easy to groove to. It is followed by one of my favorite moments, The Used's take on The Talking Heads "Burning Down the House." Of course, I think it helps that I have always liked that song. This version gives it an industrialized spin that fits it nicely.

The latter portion does not provide much excitement as we move into the "*Not in Film" tracks, with the highlight being a song that is already two years old in Avenged Sevenfold's "Almost Easy."

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the most Transformers -centric song here, Cheap Trick's new theme song. It is corny, silly, and fully in line with the 80's cartoon. I have to give it to these guys for putting it all out there with this one.

Bottomline. This isn't anything you should feel the need to run out for, but it could have been worse. If you are a fan of any of these bands and don't have these songs anywhere else, go ahead and give it a shot, otherwise feel free to take a pass. Not terrible, just a little to the lackluster side of the coin.

Not Recommended.

Track list: (*Not in Film)
1. Linkin Park- New Divide
2. Green Day- 21 Guns
3. Cavo- Let It Go
4. Taking Back Sunday- Capital M-E
5. The Fray- Never Say Never
6. Nickelback- Burn it to the Ground
7. The Used- Burning Down The House
8. Theory of a Deadman- Not Meant To Be*
9. The All-American Rejects- Real World*
10. Hoobastank- I don't think I Love You*
11. Staind- This Is It
12. Avenged Sevenfold- Almost Easy*
13. Cheap Trick- Transformers Theme*


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