Okay, look, I’m not a big Broadway musical person. I like the idea of it. I enjoy going to an occasional show. But I’m not a Broadway person. I have not seen Rent 43 times nor have I memorized every line of Wicked (although I MAY know people who have done both). And while I’ve sung along with my sister’s copy of the soundtrack to Into the Woods on a road trip or two, I don’t own any soundtracks myself.
So, when I was sent a copy of the Original Cast Recording of Rock of Ages, I really wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I didn’t really know anything about the except that it features ’80’s rock songs and it stars that Constantine guy from American Idol. This is how it’s described on the website:
Set in 1987 in a legendary Sunset Strip rock club, a small-town girl meets a big-city dreamer and they fall in love to the greatest metal songs of the 80’s. The musical is an arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of Journey, Bon Jovi, Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake and more.
I find the idea really fascinating and entertaining (the greatest hair band songs EVER being turned into a musical). But, seriously, hair bands & musical theatre…..really? See, I know some people who are still into this music- not in an ironic way, but a straight-faced stonewashed jeans & fringe wearing way- and I couldn’t see them being into it. Of course, they’re not the target audience. The target audience is people like a lot of my friends who meet up on Monday nights for Metalsome and jam to ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ while walking down the cereal aisle at Kroger (wait, that was actually me). So, throwing caution to the wind, I threw the CD in and gave it a listen.
The track list is insane:
Just Like Paradise / Nothin’ But A Good Time
We Built This City / Too Much Time On My Hands
I Wanna Rock
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Heaven/More Than Words / To Be With You
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Wanted Dead Or Alive
I Want To Know What Love Is
Cum On Feel The Noize / We’re Not Gonna Take It (Reprise)
Harden My Heart / Shadows Of The Night
Here I Go Again
The Final Countdown
Any Way You Want It / I Wanna Rock (Reprise)
I Hate Myself For Loving You / Heat Of The Moment
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Can’t Fight This Feeling
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
The Search Is Over
Don’t Stop Believin’
Jason saw the list and promptly shouted “This is the greatest album ever! Is it the original artists?” Me: “um, no. It’s a musical”. Jason (disappointed): “Oh”.
I’ll be honest, my first thought when I started listening to this CD was “WTF?”. Most musical soundtracks feature original songs, so when you hear them you think “okay, this is a song that goes with this show.” You have no expectations. But these songs aren’t just songs you know, they’re song that are as close to “anti-musical theatre” as you can get. When you look at the track list, particularly if you haven’t seen the show, you’re going to have certain expectations of how it’ll sound. And when the first song begins and the intro features that “musical theatre talk” between verses…it’s a little strange.
Nevertheless, the first time through, I listened with an opened mind. And the more I listen, the more it grows on me. I definitely liked some songs more than others. The ballads translated a little better. The “Heaven/More Than Words / To Be With You” combo was nice & I really enjoyed “I Want to Know What Love Is”. I personally preferred the male singers to the female performers…the women sounded a bit more “show tune-y”. I couldn’t get past the fact that a woman was singing “Here I Go Again”, when I have such a strong mental image of Tawny Kitaen rolling around on the hood of a car in the Whitesnake video.
One thing that definitely wasn’t lacking was the backing music. From the first note, the music was powerful and loud, full of guitar solos. I’d imagine that in the show, there’s a pretty bad-ass band onstage. I bet this show is A LOT of fun to see live.
All in all, the soundtrack is just fun. It won’t change the world, but what musical does? *Well…except for Rent, that had a pretty heavy impact.* I could picture people turning this up loud in the car on a sunny day. I’m not sure how much it would be appreciated by metal fans from back in the day….but for people who frequent musicals and fondly remember Aqua Net & Acid Wash, this is gold.