Various Artists

Desperate Housewives [TV Soundtrack]

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Apart from Danny Elfman's score, music doesn't play a big part on Marc Cherry's runaway television hit Desperate Housewives, but any show that's this popular gets a soundtrack anyway -- hence, the fall 2005 release of Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives, just in time for the DVD release of the first season and the debut of the second. Since there's not much music in the show, that means that the 13 songs here are all "inspired" by the series -- which, in turn, means that they're all songs about marriage or girl power, all performed by female artists. Instead of relying on previously released material, the producers have commissioned new recordings, which helps give this a fresh feel even if there are no less than six covers of well-known oldies about marriage and motherhood. At first, the artist lineup looks rather diverse, since it contains everything from Shania Twain and Martina McBride to Liz Phair, Joss Stone, Gloria Estefan, Indigo Girls, and Macy Gray, but it doesn't take long to realize that everything here is firmly within the confines of adult pop, fitting both adult contemporary and adult alternative formats quite nicely. This is classy and clever, well-produced music that is not without a few missteps (chief among them Liz Phair's flat-footed "Mother's Little Helper" and Macy Gray's jazzy "Boom Boom"), but is heavier on the highlights: Anna Nalick belts out "Band of Gold," Shania Twain's "Shoes" is sublimely silly, Joss Stone's "Treat Me Right (I'm Yours for Life)" has a nicely mellow groove, and Sara Evans' treatment of "One's on the Way" may be faithful but it's still a lot of fun. These are of such a similar mind set that the snippets of dialogue from the show are not only not needed to tie this together, but they get to be a little irritating (and Mary Alice's voice-over narration has never sounded so smug and cloying as it does here, separated from the visuals). All the same, Desperate Housewives is a surprisingly entertaining soundtrack, especially for a show that doesn't really feature pop music in the first place.

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