Hairspray

Original Soundtrack

New Line, 2007

REVIEW BY: Elizabeth Crowder

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/21/2007

Back in the days of Rodgers and Hammerstein, musicals were about fluff and happiness. The furthest extent the old school masterpieces went into politics and drama was The Sound Of Music, which was still more a love story than a history lesson on Nazi Germany. While the past of musicals may have dabbled in politics, none have hit the level of Hairspray, a 60s-era story of integration, breaking molds and going past appearances.

Based in Baltimore, Hairspray is a story of a girl (Tracy Turnblad) whose dream is to be on television on the Corny Collins show, dancing alongside Link, the cutest boy in school. Sounds simple, but woven in the age old tale is the risky measures Tracy takes to help her town through integration. The original 1988 film is the brain child of John Waters, whose other off-the-beaten-path movies include Cecil B. Demented and Cry-Baby.

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The movie and soundtrack highlight new star Nikki Blonsky as Tracy, as well as John Travolta in the cross-dressing role of Edna Turnblad, Tracy's mother. Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley, Michelle Pfieffer and James Marsden lend their vocal talents, as well as Zac Efron (from High School Musical) and Brittany Snow. All the actors have strong vocals, which is part of the reason they can get away with some of the cheesier numbers on the soundtrack.

Honestly, it is difficult to listen to Cyclops from X-Men sing a song called "(It's) Hairspray" and even more insane to listen to Vinnie Barbarino sing a duet with Christopher Walken entitled "You're Timeless To Me" while singing like a woman who sounds like a man. Getting past those issues, though, the highlights of this album include "You Can't Stop The Beat," where the entire cast gets in on the finale, as well as Zac Efron's "It Takes Two." Elijah Kelley also shines in "Run And Tell That," as well as Marsden in "The Nicest Kids In Town." 

My personal favorite track is "Without Love," which has Blonsky, Efron, Bynes and Kelley singing of how life would be without the love they have all found. Bynes plays Penny Pingleton, whose overbearing religious mother is completely against any change in society. Naturally, Penny falls hard for Seaweed, the African American dancer and singer Tracy befriends, and "Without Love" shows their true feelings. Penny sings "In my ivory tower / Life was just a Hostess snack / But now I've tasted chocolate / And I'm never going back!" The only way any musical can pull off lyrics like this is through a fantastic cast, who make the words come to life and help you see the heart behind the story line.

Queen Latifah brings "I Know Where I've Been," a song giving a voice to the people who want the blacks and whites to stop segregation. This is a battle cry without screaming, and shows the reality our country went through back in the 60s. As Tracy tells her mother in the intro to "Welcome To The 60s," "Ma, it's changing out there / You'll like it! / People who are different, their time is coming." Both the new movie and soundtrack to Hairspray are proof that the world has changed for the better, so doing something different can work out for the best.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2007 Elizabeth Crowder and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of New Line, and is used for informational purposes only.