Album Review: Frozen 2 / Hello Again / Chicago

The release of Frozen 2 (2019 Film Soundtrack), sends me off to a couple of other film soundtracks I’ve been meaning to review in Hello Again (2017 Film Soundtrack) and Chicago (2002 Film Soundtrack)

“Are you the one I’ve been looking for
All of my life?”

Possibly the album that is most wanted by kids and most feared by parents is the soundtrack to the forthcoming Frozen 2. Musical supremos Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez return in fine form with a suite of songs that suggest quite the emotional journey for the film and one which could be too sad for even me to cope with. In that respect, Kristen Bell’s griefstricken ‘The Next Right Thing’ scares me but it is gorgeously done. ‘Into the Unknown’ with its daring intervals and Aurora’s ethereal supplemental vocals seems like the song most identified to replicate ‘Let It Go’ enormous success but it is the dramatic swoops of ‘Show Yourself’ that I think Idina Menzel shines best on, along with Evan Rachel Wood. Wood’s delicate ‘All is Found’ speaks to the film’s core mysteries and Jonathan Groff finally gets a song with the amusing 80s-inflected ‘Lost In The Woods’.

Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again is one of those shows that pops up again as adaptations of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde are never far from any stage. And that’s a good thing in that Michael John LaChiusa’s score is one which bears repeated listens. His favourite position is on the cusp of musical theatre and chamber opera and so this is complex music that demands your attention rather than the kind of thing to put on in the background. And with singers and actors like Audra McDonald, Cheyenne Jackson and Martha Plimpton, this suite of songs that take us through linked sexual encounters through the decades is deeply compelling. Arrangements make the whole thing distinctly more contemporary than I’ve seen previously onstage but it makes for a thrilling listen.

I’d argue that the 2002 Film Soundtrack of Chicago is a good example of the musical theatre score committed to cinema and then record in any case, but I think that it works well for me because I don’t have a particular attachment to any of the cast recordings of the show. So Catherine Zeta-Jones’s entirely full-throated Velma absolutely nails ‘All That Jazz’, Renée Zellweger’s Roxie has a similar star quality and Queen Latifah’s Mama Morton has all the verve to make her highly engaging. I’ll happily listen to this any day.

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