Film director Alfonso Cuarón's dystopian science fiction thriller Children of Men is about a near future in which human fertility has nearly ceased, and to represent a setting that is familiar yet disturbing, the compilers of this various-artists soundtrack (there is also an album of the score) have chosen some rock and pop songs by well-known artists dating back to the '60s, some of them, however, presented in versions not so well known. Everybody knows the heavy metal band Deep Purple, but the band's initial American hit, a cover of Joe South's "Hush," doesn't sound much like its more successful "Smoke on the Water" phase. The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" are iconic '60s songs, but they are here performed by Junior Parker and heavily accented Italian singer Franco Battiato, respectively. John Lennon's "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)," a song featured on his 1973 album Mind Games, is not one of his more celebrated numbers, despite its anthemic appeal; the version heard here is a rehearsal take that first appeared on the Lennon Anthology box set in 1998. There are also rap and reggae toasting tracks, and some electronic music, adding to the sense of dislocation called for in the film. Cuarón, whose previous film was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (though his first major release, the provocative Y Tu Mamá También is more typical of his style), ends with the same voice that accompanied the credits to that film's successor, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that of former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker. This time, however, Cocker has a far more troubling message. His lyrics to "Running the World," drawn from his 2006 debut solo album Jarvis, justify this collection's "Parental Advisory/Explicit Content" sticker, particularly in the chorus, with its use of the plural of a four-letter word for female genitalia (a word considered far more vulgar in the U.S. than in the U.K., for some reason) as a characterization of those who are "still running the world." If that's also the point of Children of Men, then its ending can't be too happy.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann