Various Artists

Love Actually [Original Soundtrack]

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The über-romantic comedy Love Actually has an über-romantic comedy soundtrack to match, collecting love songs old and new as well as sassy and empowering tunes. Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is" manages to be romantic, sassy, and empowering all at once, with her vocals reflecting their urban ballad surroundings. An emphasis on songs from British artists, such as Sugababes' "Too Lost in You" and Texas' "I'll See It Through" keep the soundtrack from becoming too predictable. Even the older songs that appear here aren't the usual suspects, although the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" is certainly one of the most romantic songs of the last four decades. This song, along with the Pointer Sisters' "Jump (For My Love)," are both welcome surprises. Lynden David Hall's cover of "All You Need Is Love," however, falls into most of the clichés that surround rom-com music: it's sappy, drawn out, and ends up feeling almost disrespectful of the original song. Similarly, Joni Mitchell's orchestral update of her classic ballad "Both Sides Now" ends up feeling ponderous instead of ethereally lovely. Norah Jones' "Turn Me On" and Eva Cassidy's "Songbird" are archetypal examples of the pretty, understated, slightly too polished ballads that proliferate on this kind of soundtrack. Still, Otis Redding's "White Christmas," included as a bonus track, is almost worth the price of admission. While Love Actually is actually far from a perfect collection of love songs, the soundtrack is pleasant enough that fans of the film will probably enjoy it on its own.

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