Phil Collins / Mark Mancina

Tarzan [1999] [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Undoubtedly inspired by Elton John and Hans Zimmer's soundtrack for The Lion King, the soundtrack for Tarzan, Disney's summer 1999 blockbuster, has little of the freshness that makes the film a visual treat. It follows the same formula that's informed every Disney soundtrack since The Lion King -- take two sweeping ballads and one up-tempo dance number, and surround them with reprises and re-recordings for radio, as well as excerpts of the score. It's an exercise in recycling, essentially. As recently as Aladdin, Disney's animated films had rich soundtracks filled with robust songs and surging, dramatic scores. Tarzan is symptomatic of this decline. The core elements, however reminiscent of The Lion King they may be, aren't bad in and of themselves (apart from "Trashin' the Camp," a jive lyric-less doo wop parody). The excerpts from Mark Mancina's score may push the melodrama buttons a little hard, but they are effective blends of African and movie music. Meanwhile, Phil Collins' songs are surprisingly strong, much more melodic and appealing than anything he's done since But Seriously. The main theme, "Two Worlds," is a particular standout, eerily echoing his former colleague Peter Gabriel's worldbeat explorations at times, but all of the songs (exception: "Trashin' the Camp") are quite strong. The only problem is, they're repeated and repeated and repeated. "Two Worlds" is included no less than four times, "You'll Be in My Heart" comprises two tracks, and "Trashin' the Camp" is here twice, once as a duet between Collins and *NSync. All the different versions are designed to appeal to different markets, but it makes listening to the album a chore -- especially since there is no marked difference between the film version of the song and the radio version, apart from Collins' vocals. Of course, this is hardly a new situation for Disney; it's just that the repetition and recycling have never been so blatant or tiresome. It would have been better to include a main version of each song, then surround it with more of Mancina's score -- it probably would have resulted in a stronger listen -- but as it stands, Tarzan is a soundtrack with potential, yet is undone by its formula.

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