It seems like Gustavo Santaolalla didn’t receive the memo that was sent out well over ten years ago that using pop culture songs in your soundtrack where it’s not needed isn’t cool and is actually really annoying. It also seems like Gustavo Santaolalla and Jorge Gutierrez didn’t sit down and discuss what would happen if the star voice actor they casted couldn’t sing well. And because of this lack of execution what results is one big trainwreck of a soundtrack. While leading star Diego Luna does bring a promising performance on The Apology Song
and Te Amo y Mas
with a soft, somber performance save for some trite songwriting, from there on out the album wallows in an atrocious state of bad post movie pop songs and botched half minute renditions of iconic songs. While Diego Luna, and to a certain extent, the rest of the movie’s cast can show a powerful soft side to their performances, when duty demands they show any power beyond that the flaws of this soundtrack begin to grow.
While we can ignore how no one in the musical staff of this film learned from last year’s flop The Great Gatsby
that having pop music in movies that take place hundreds, if not thousands of years before these songs even technically existed is a sure sign of a bad soundtrack, what can’t be ignored is how these songs were used to drive the narrative of the story. What Gustavo’s intended execution was for this soundtrack was to have these songs performed by a character or two in the movie in a highly shortened state to move the plot from point A to point B (Mumford and Sons - I Will Wait
) or to show the inner feelings of the main character. (Radiohead - Creep
) Sadly he misses the point when a fraction of the songs are used as a throwaway gag (Rod Stewart - Da Ya Think Im Sexy"
) or when Diego Luna’s constant tendency to botch his performances end up creating a cringe fest instead of conveying emotion.
Outside of soft and somber Diego Luna can’t bring a strong performance without shifting in and out of flat, shouted strains that sound completely unappealing or purposefully switching the order of notes in certain musical arrangements for no apparent reason. With how heavily the movie used these pop culture songs it should be expected that we would be brought some good performances, but sadly that simply wasn't the case. The last few songs on this collection belong to a small selection of tracks from the cinematic score. And while sounding nicer than the theatrical score they simply don’t bring enough energy to leave any lasting impressions (Meeting Mama
) like its movie’s animation did. It should seem obvious to anyone that the songs chosen for this soundtrack were only there to appeal to crowds who would of otherwise ignored this movie. Even then the studio failed to do a simple task of having pop culture references in their movies (something that many others have done with no problems) with cringe worthy performances from actors who can't perform and a selection of songs that couldn’t be taken seriously. With all thats said and done, this is one soundtrack that is better off in the Land of the Forgotten.