It Happened at the World's Fair is where things start to get pear shaped for Elvis Presley's soundtracks. It's not that the album itself is particularly bad -- compared to some of the soundtracks that'd follow, including Fun in Acapulco just a few short months later, it's totally fine -- but it's the first Elvis album to feel like pure product, lacking any strong hook. It's also lacking any song as ridiculous as, say, "Song of the Shrimp" from Girls! Girls! Girls! -- the closest it comes is "Cotton Candy Land," a wannabe blues showstopper that never acknowledges its inherent silliness, and the toy box clatter of "How Would You Like to Be" -- but that absence only underscores the anonymity of the affair; it balances the ballads with pop tunes and light rockers, making sure that nothing sounds too messy. A few cuts flirt with inspiration -- the opening "Beyond the Bend" almost works up a head of steam, as does the Otis Blackwell/Winfield Scott bopper "One Broken Heart for Sale" -- but this is a record where the songs merely go through the motions, so Elvis himself isn't particularly inspired to do much more than hit his mark, either.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine