In the first decade of the 21st century, as in every decade dating back to the third of the 20th, Walt Disney Pictures successfully created animated and live-action films for pre-adolescents. As a corollary, the studio also commissioned music, often drawing from the ranks of contemporary popular songwriters and performers. Disney's Box Office Hits collects some of the results from films of the mid-2000s, with songs written by the likes of Sheryl Crow, Peter Gabriel, Randy Newman, Rob Thomas, and Rufus Wainwright, and performed by such veteran pop/rock talents as Crow, Gabriel, Thomas, and James Taylor, along with the American Idol-created stars Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and the teen idol Miley Cyrus. Such artists have come up with tracks in their familiar Adult Top 40 styles, albeit with lyrics that tend to be a bit more simplistic and generalized than usual, although not dumbed-down to toddler level by any means. Gabriel's "Down to Earth" from WALL-E easily could fit on one of his regular albums; Crow seems to be channeling the Who of Tommy for "Real Gone" from Cars; and both Thomas ("Little Wonders" from Meet the Robinsons) and Switchfoot ("This Is Home" from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) may have been listening to U2 too much. But that is only to say that all of this material could fit on an Adult Alternative playlist. The album's sequencing puts the more unusual musical styles at the end. Jamie Cullum's "Where Is Your Heart At?" (written by Wainwright) from Meet the Robinsons is a neo-swing number, while Camille's "Le Festin" from Ratatouille is a chanson sung in French, and the disc concludes with two instrumental dance tracks, Paul Oakenfold's "Jack's Suite (Paul Oakenfold Mix)" from Pirates of the Caribbean and U.N.K.L.E.'s "U.N.K.L.E. Reconstruction (Incredibles Remix)" from The Incredibles. Taken together, the selections demonstrate that, while the movies may be for children, the soundtracks often are aimed at their parents.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann