The soundtrack to the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant romantic comedy Notting Hill is every bit as consciously classy as the film it supports. If it isn't as ingratiating, that's because it's significantly harder to offer a twist on a formula soundtrack album than on a formula movie. With a film, little details, supporting characters, and subtle, interesting visuals give the movie identity within a formula. Unfortunately, a soundtrack remains a collection of oldies, newer songs, and score excerpts, no matter how much you shake it up, and that's the case here. Much of this is quite enjoyable -- it's hard to go wrong with such pop classics as Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," Al Green's "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," and Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'" providing the foundation. If the newer songs aren't quite up to par -- Elvis Costello's "She" is nearly as appealingly lush as his Bacharach collaboration, but his quavering vibrato undercuts it somewhat, and sadly, Boyzone's "No Matter What" is not a Badfinger cover -- they're all still pretty good, especially 98 Degrees' "I Do (Cherish You)" and Shania Twain's "You've Got a Way," which is presented in a nice remix. If the score excerpts don't add much, it's OK, because that's usually the case with these kinds of soundtracks. What counts is the mix of oldies and new songs, and this time around, it's pretty enjoyable, even if it doesn't have the charming character of the film itself.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine