Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida"

Elton John / Tim Rice

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Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida" Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The Lion King proved to be one of Elton John's most successful projects -- which is quite an achievement for one of the most successful rockers in history. Given its level of popularity, it's only logical that John would reteam with his Lion collaborator Tim Rice. Perhaps to some it was surprising that they adapted Verdi's Aida as their next project, but it made sense -- Rice's background was in showtunes and John's songs tended to sound like showtunes. Hence, they were a perfect pair to modernize Aida for the Great White Way -- at least in theory. In practice, their collaborations sound like soft-rock and adult contemporary tunes, especially the way they're presented here. None of the songs on Aida are performed in the order they are in the show, nor are they performed in character. However, they are performed by a variety of different vocalists, including John, Sting, the Spice Girls, Lenny Kravitz, Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, James Taylor, Janet Jackson and Tina Turner, plus Heather Headley, the only member of the cast to be featured on this record. As such, the album doesn't feel like a show -- it feels like an afternoon of adult contemporary radio. This isn't a bad thing, since John is a virtuoso of the form, and many of his contributions here are worthy (often better than his Lion King work) and all the featured players do them justice. Still, Aida feels incomplete, quite possibly because it is structured as a various artists album, not a cast record -- which is really what you want when you want to listen to cast record.

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