Arthur Soundtrack23.04.11 # Soundtrack # 35 Comments
The Arthur soundtrack. The idea that popular culture is in some kind of irreversible decline is not one I find myself able to get too far down with. Sure, there’s a lot of crap around. But crap is one thing that we’ve always proved capable of producing in abundance, and I don’t just mean the funny-smelling brown biscuits that pop out of our backsides once a day (twice if last night was chilli and beer night).
Sure, some folks might like to brandish the French New Wave or the Clash or Apocalypse Now as incontrovertible proof that back then was a whole heap better than right now, but when doing so they always conveniently elect to forget the slurry which enshrined their chosen pearls: Plan 9 From Outer Space. The surprisingly successful recording career of the Smurfs. The Wild Geese, especially the bit where Roger Moore makes the dude eat his own drugs.
Having said all that, if you were of the mind to compile a case that might prove a process of cultural decay is very much in progress then Warners’ just-released remake of 1981 comedy Arthur might just be one of your first ports of evidential call. Okay, stately British Oscar-winner Helen Mirren might be a fair swap for stately British Oscar-winner John Gielgud. Far harder to square is the subbing of the late Dudley Moore, the man responsible for one of the finest uses of the C-word in the entire history of comedy with the ‘Hello, Colin’ routine, for Russell Brand, gangly cockernee berk whose name has become a 21st century synonym for irritation.
Then there’s the small matter of the Arthur soundtrack (a-ha! You were wondering when I was going to mention it, weren’t you?). Back in ’81, the man at the musical helm was Burt Bacharach, titan of easy listening pop. And who do we get now? Only Mark flippin’ Ronson, a smugly gormless expression that the world’s saintliest nun could never tire of slapping, bound up with the most maddeningly petulant spoilt brat speaking voice you’re ever likely to hear outside of an Eton playground squabble.
Given that Ronson’s music has more brass than a Lancashire mine owner – something underlined by bombastic opening track A Harmless Game of Dress Up – it is therefore genuinely surprising how mellow much of the soundtrack to the new Arthur turns out to be. Greta Gerwig appears in the movie as Brand’s love interest, and it would not be inaccurate to say that most of the music here could very easily come from one of those twenty-something relationship comedies she tends to crop up in that no-one, and I mean absolutely no-one, not even her closest friends and family, bother to go and see.
Death Cab for Cutie main-bloke Ben Gibbard chips in with a brace of acoustic numbers, with Where Our Destination Lies exhibiting some bluesy leanings, and When the Sun Goes Down being powered by a gently insistent rumble. Mark McAdam’s pair of songs also keep it tasteful, his While You Wait even proving really rather catchy, in its own understated manner. Slightly more animated are the numbers credited to regular Ronson cohort Daniel Merriweather, while Pogo by Eternal Summers is the one true exception to the overall becalmed vibe of the soundtrack, being a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slice of dynamic girlie pop-punk.
And no soundtrack to an Arthur remake could be complete with a new version of Christopher Cross’s hit theme from first time round, Best That You Can Do (covered here, a few octaves lower than the original by Fitz & the Tantrums). Okay, it might be better. But it wouldn’t be complete.
Arthur Soundtrack (Songs / 2011) – Track List
1. A Harmless Game of Dress Up – Arthur Orchestra
2. A Little Bit Better – Daniel Merriweather
3. Where Our Destination Lies – Ben Gibbard
4. Dazed – Daniel Merriweather
5. Hello, I Must Be – Mark McAdam & Dermot Mulroney
6. While You Wait – Mark McAdam
7. When the Sun Goes Down – Ben Gibbard
8. Can’t Buy You – Daniel Merriweather
9. Pogo – Eternal Summers
10. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) – Fitz & the Tantrums
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