While I couldn’t say that the film adaptation of “Sweeney Todd” was the best of the year I do have to add the soundtrack to the “best CD’s of the year” list. The soundtrack retains a lot of the Stephen Sondheim influence and gives the listener a reason to go find the original Broadway albums. If you in any way enjoyed the film then this record is a great companion piece.
I have to mention in the beginning that I have never seen the original play but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of this CD. There are some amazing tracks on here all allowing the stars to show their singing chops. One has to mention the stars that aren’t predominately singers and it’s hard to tell they don’t sing normally. Star Johnny Depp is amazing on songs like “Epiphany,” “Johanna” and “No Place Like London.” While Depp has been in a band previously this is his first musical and he’s phenomenal. He has a way of giving Sondheim’s work the tone it needs but slips in a rock and roll type sound. Alan Rickman is also amazing in the duet with Depp “Pretty Women.” The two sing well off each other and it was great to hear a rock sound from Depp and a more classical tone from Rickman.
The younger actors all had musical training and give the album that classic Broadway sound. Young Jayne Wisener who plays Johanna sings beautifully in the sad “Green Finch and Linnet Bird.” She reminded me a lot of Emmy Rossum in the film version of “Phantom of the Opera,” her voice is that lovely. Jamie Campbell Bower is also an amazing talent in songs like “Johanna” and “Alms, Alms.” His own song with Depp, the reprise of “Johanna” is also a joy to listen to as Depp and Bower have vastly different ranges and it works wonderfully. Edward Sanders is also great as Toby in “Not While I’m Around” which is just a beautiful song all on its own.
I did have some problems with a couple tracks. While I loved Sacha Baron Cohen as the evil Pirelli his song with Depp and Timothy Spall “The Contest” got on my nerves. It might be Cohen’s exaggerated Italian accent but the song is only good to listen to once. Timothy Spall also has few songs to truly sing in just a small part in the above track and with Alan Rickman in “Ladies and Their Sensitivities.” Maybe it’s because Spall does not have a large role in the film but I felt he was wasted. The main problem I had with the soundtrack was all the songs with Helena Bonham Carter. Out of all the actors she had the least musical experience and it shows. Her songs are very nasally and annoying and I just ended up listening to them once and dropping out. Her duets with the other cast members helps but her own songs are just boring.
What makes the “Sweeney Todd” soundtrack an added bonus is the actual film dialogue in the album. I do know this is done in the Broadway album but it was great to get the set up of the song then just diving into the music. Note though that the soundtrack only has a 20 songs, the original Broadway albums has 26 so sacrifices are made. Based on those I’ve talked to they were a bit upset that the romantic ballad “Kiss” is taken out. The soundtrack though did make me want to listen to the original recordings so this is a great start.
Make sure to check out the Broadway version of the film/play after listening to this CD. I have to commend the cast and Stephen Sondheim (who has the best opening titles song I’ve heard) for making such a great soundtrack. I will definitely be checking out some more Sondheim in the past.