Soundtrack CDs cross roads

Published February 1, 1999

DURING THE 1990s, the motion picture soundtrack has evolved to become a major market force. There are countless examples of high-powered star and single filled soundtracks being the catalyst for commercial success for a movie that needs all the help it can get.

Such is not the case with The Prince Of Egypt, the DreamWorks Pictures movie that is getting very positive reviews as an animated masterpiece, and mixed comments as representing a biblically-accurate animated depiction of the book of Exodus.

The music marketing component of this production, though, is a textbook case of marketing savvy. There are three separate albums that are out there – the original soundtrack, the Nashville album, and the inspirational album. All three feature an eclectic blend of artists with commercial name power and artistic merit.

That artists normally associated with the smaller contemporary Christian marketplace (Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, Take 6, Kirk Franklin) have their work stand up to the secular marketplace and shine artistically, in most cases in the context of the entire body of music for the movie, is another bonus.

Certainly, the most musical headlines are being made by the first-ever duet between Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. If there is anything that has been a bigger hit factory than soundtracks in the ’90s, it has been duets by people previously not inclined to share the spotlight. Whitney Houston tends to take the lead role in much of When You Believe, but neither diva shrinks from every big trick in the book in this mega-piece.

More pleasing, by and large, are the more understated pieces – be they country (Alison Krauss’ poignant, I Give You To His Heart, Vince Gill’s impeccable Once In Awhile), R&B funk (Christian’s Didn’t I, Trin-i-tee’s As Long as You’re Here with Me), rap (DC Talk’s brilliant metamorphosis of Rich Mullins’ My Deliverer), or folk rock (Jars of Clay’s Everything In Between).

If the target audience cannot narrow their choice to one of the albums, the whole thing is available as a three CD set. Marketing genius, indeed.

Wilfred Langmaid is Anglican chaplain of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, and music critic for the Fredericton Gleaner.


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