Garry Marshall’s cinematic ode to romance, Valentine’s Day, isn’t getting a whole lot of love from the critics. But can the film’s tunes prevent this overstuffed package of A- and B-list actors from becoming the movie equivalent of a stale box of chocolates? Check out our review of the aww-inducing collection of of love songs—featuring the likes of Taylor Swift, Jewel and Joss Stone—included on the Valentine’s Day soundtrack below.
Taylor Swift has a supporting role in the film, but she’s the star of the soundtrack, with the first of her two songs, “Today Was A Fairytale,” kicking things off. Although the song was an instant hit on iTunes and on the charts, we’re think it’s because Taylor’s fans will pretty much download anything their golden-haired icon releases, even an uninspired track like “Fairytale,” which sounds like a hastily thrown together Fearless B-side.
Taylor’s second song, “Jump Then Fall,” doesn’t fare much better since it retraces ground she’s already covered without adding any new wrinkles (either musically or lyrically). If there’s one thing Taylor knows (or continuously tries to figure out), it’s boys, and this tune is no different: she’s distracted by a boy’s smile, a boy’s eyes, a boy’s hair in his face. What’s with all these one-dimensional guys catching Taylor’s eye? Girl, get on eHarmony and meet somebody with some personality instead of a dude whose main characteristics are having eyes and hair.
Swift’s involvement in the film may have prompted producers to load up the soundtrack with other tunes that would resonate with the country audience, like Willie Nelson’s toe-tapping “On the Street Where You Live” (from his American Classics album released last year) and CMT’s Can You Duet? winners Steel Magnolia’s first single “Keep On Loving You.”
Jewel, the one-time pop-folk songstress who has long since set up shop in Nashville, provides her first single in two years: “Stay Here Forever” is a sweet, guitar-led track inspired by her rodeo-riding husband, Ty Murray. We haven’t heard from the Alaskan singer in some time—she took a break from singing to be a wife, a reality show judge, and a Dancing with the Stars contestant (although tendinitis stopped her from competing alongside her hubby. As much as she’s genre-hopped over the years, we think she really does sound at home in country (and it beats the tar out “Intuition”.)
Most of the songs on the soundtrack are previously released covers of famous love songs that you can find/buy elsewhere. Adam Levine and Maroon 5 attempt to channel Ol’ Blue Eyes (and almost pull it off) in the cover “The Way You Look Tonight” (off the Sinatra tribute collection, His Way, Our Way). And the bird & the bee’s laid-back but inventive take on Herman’s Hermits’ 1987 hit “I’m Into Something Good” (originally composed by Gerry Goffin and Carole King) is a brief, bouncy ditty.
The worst? Anju Ramapriyam’s Bollywood rendition of the Stevie Wonder classic (and American Idol audition round regular) “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” We’re all for experimentation in styles, but this track comes off extremely irritating. Basically, it’s no “Jai Ho.”
The only dance track on the album, Leighton Meester’s “Somebody to Love” featuring Robin Thicke, is also the most refreshing. While all the other tracks bleed together into forgettable lovey-dovey mush, Leighton’s sultry club hit dares to be sexy.
But the true standout of the soundtrack is Joss Stone, who proves she was a 1930s jazz singer in another life in the bluesy piano-led track “4 & 20” (which evokes En Vogue’s “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” without sounding like a direct ripoff).
The most annoying aspect of this soundtrack is that it’s a full hour of tunes so over-saturated with sweetness, we’ve got an ice cream headache just by looking at the tracklisting. But no real harm done. Aside from most masochistic moviegoers, the folks who don’t want to listen to eighteen songs in a row filled with unadulterated sentimentality and sweet delight probably aren’t going to go anywhere near a movie called Valentine’s Day anyway, right?
DOWNLOAD: Joss Stone’s “4 & 20”, and Leighton Meester and Robin Thicke’s “Somebody to Love” (although chances are you already have).
Here’s the full track-list, if you aren’t too bitter to soak in all the sugary goodness:
1. Taylor Swift – Today Was A Fairy Tale
2. Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You)
3. Jools Holland and Jamiroquai – I’m In The Mood For Love
4. Willie Nelson – On The Street Where You Live
5. Sausalito Foxtrot – Everyday
6. Jewel – Stay Here Forever
7. Ben E. King – Amor
8. Amy Winehouse – Cupid
9. Maroon 5 – The Way You Look Tonight
10. Joss Stone – 4 & 20
11. Diane Birch – Valentino
12. Nat King Cole – Te Quiero Dijeste
13. Taylor Swift – Jump Then Fall
14. Black Gold – Shine
15. Steel Magnolia – Keep On Lovin’ You
16. Leighton Meester – Somebody To Love (featuring Robin Thicke)
17. the bird and the bee – I’m Into Something Good
18. Anju Ramapriyam – Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours