Original Soundtrack

Nine [Original Soundtrack]

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While the train wreck that is director Rob Marshall's film adaptation of the Broadway musical Nine (itself, in turn, a stage adaptation of director Federico Fellini's film 8½) is not the direct concern of a reviewer of the soundtrack album, one of the movie's chief weaknesses necessarily carries over, and that is the miscasting of all the principal characters, starting with Daniel Day-Lewis in the starring role of Guido Contini. It's not just that Day-Lewis has not previously been known as a singer. By 2009, the days of dubbing non-singing actors in films had been replaced by advanced recording technology to make it seem that they could sing, whatever their actual vocal limitations might be, and that applies here not only to him but to his co-stars Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, and Nicole Kidman. (Fergie and Marion Cotillard at least brought reputations as singers to the project.) But to say that the illusion of a competent singing voice can be created for such performers is not the same as saying that they give outstanding performances, and they don't. In fact, several of them, particularly Fergie, Cruz, and Hudson, might be said to be overdoing it, while others, particularly Day-Lewis and Dench, are tripped up simply because they are so wrong for their parts. In Day-Lewis' case, the musical contribution of his character has been so reduced -- he now only has two numbers, "Guido's Song" and the brief "I Can't Make This Movie" -- that this almost doesn't matter, while Dench, in the newly created role of a British costume designer inexplicably singing the song created for a French film producer, "Folies Bergère," just does her best to make such a wrongheaded idea work (even to the point of putting on a French accent for the song). Songwriter Maury Yeston has added a couple of minor new numbers, "Cinema Italiano" (thus allowing for a newly created part for Hudson to play as a reporter) and "Take It All" (replacing the far superior "Be on Your Own"), apparently as Oscar bait, and a batch of so-called bonus tracks have been tacked on at the end, including extra recordings by Fergie, Noisettes and one Griffith Frank (apparently making his recording debut and sounding like an American Idol contestant) in contemporary pop and hip-hop styles, all extraneous, inferior, and jarringly out of place, to substitute for the other material unfortunately deleted from Yeston's score. (Particularly missed is the entire "Grand Canal" sequence, which might have helped the movie's plot make more sense if it had been used.) All of this ephemera serves to make the soundtrack album for Nine as much of a train wreck as the movie itself.

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