If you scanned the back cover of the soundtrack to Shrek, without seeing the film first, it's hard not to think that this is an album that's designed to be a crossover success, containing very few songs that are in the film. You'd be wrong. Almost all of the 12 songs on this soundtrack (there's a 13th track, an excerpt of Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell's original score) are not only in the movie, but they feature prominently in the film -- which just goes to show that Shrek doesn't play by the rules of animated features, just like DreamWorks told us in the publicity drive. What that means, though, is that it plays by the soundtrack rules of most mainstream comedies, down to the use of the omnipresent Smash Mouth not once, but twice. The record does take a couple of detours from the conventional though, no doubt thanks to DreamWorks' desire to keep their hip NPR audience and to promote their own artists as well. So, when it does deviate from the norm, it's for the eels' "My Beloved Monster" (from the 1996 DreamWorks release Beautiful Freak) and for Rufus Wainwright's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (not heard in the film, where it was sung by John Cale, but Wainwright is part of the DreamWorks family and he has an album coming out a few weeks after the release of Shrek), along with a cover of Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" by Halfcocked (again, not in the film, where the original was used) and the Proclaimers' 1988 chestnut "I'm on My Way." Though these detours are a little questionable, they are enjoyable, but they still don't alter the character of a record that's essentially just a soundtrack, without much of the personality of the film it's attached to. It's not bad, but it's not great, either.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine