One of the best things about Pixar's films for Disney is that they're not bogged down with a bunch of middling songs. Randy Newman's music for the Toy Story movies, Monsters, Inc., and A Bug's Life always served the films' stories first, while Thomas Newman's Finding Nemo soundtrack added a cinematic depth. Likewise, the tie-in albums for the first four Pixar movies retained some of the dignity of the films themselves, with artists like Riders in the Sky contributing their talent to albums that were only loosely related to the actual movies. All of this history makes Finding Nemo: Ocean Favorites something of a disappointment: while there's nothing inherently wrong with its baker's dozen of "new and classic underwater favorites inspired by the movie," there's nothing particularly inspired about it either. If the collection at least contained original versions of songs like "Sea Cruise," "Octopus' Garden," "Joy to the World," and "Wipe Out," it would be better, but instead the album features singalong versions performed by session musicians and a kids' vocal group. The original songs are a little better, with the Randy Newman-esque "Gone Fishin'" and the Dr. John-like "Saturday Night Fish Fry" among the highlights. But even the original tracks seem to lack, well, originality: "Under the Waves" sounds like a more laid-back rewrite of The Little Mermaid's classic "Under the Sea." By normal standards, Finding Nemo: Ocean Favorites is a perfectly decent tie-in album from a blockbuster children's movie, but as a part of Pixar's extended body of work, it leaves a lot to be desired.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
feat: Fred Mollin