John Debney,
various artists,
Chicken Little
(Disney, 2005)

What a wonderful soundtrack! Those of us who are used to hearing the innocuous romantic songs on soundtracks for kids will be surprised at how rocking and full of soul the Chicken Little soundtrack turns out to be, with its nine songs and six score pieces by John Debney. The first song, Patti Labelle's "Stir it Up" -- one of the original songs written for the film -- certainly sets the foot a-tapping.

Some old classics pop up, such as Diana Ross's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It." They're convenient and fit into the scheme of the film and kids will recognize them. The covers are well done, although I think the unknown cast members of the film did a better job than the more famous vocalists. Not that kids will care about that.

Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik's version of "All I Know" seems a bit too restrained, cramped and breathy, and it doesn't soar like Art Garfunkel's version. But let's face it, Garfunkel's is pretty much unbeatable. The Cheetah Girls' version of "Shake a Tail Feather" -- which must have been put on the album for obvious reasons -- is OK, but the song is not one of Ray Charles' best, the cover of a so-so song rarely works, and it lacks energy. The Cheetah Girls just don't seem to get the song.

When John Debney's original score pops up, it's a bit jolting because it seems almost as if we're listening to another CD. Once you become acclimated, you finds that it actually works. There is a playful and giddy joy that, although it has its moments of bombasticness, does dramatize Chicken Little's plight.

by Carole McDonnell
22 April 2006

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