Out of the Cookie Jar
Netflix has been churning out some of the most amazing programming and the feature film Dumplin starring Jennifer Aniston, and featuring a gaggle of drag queens, is no exception. While cinematically Dumplin is a breath of fresh air, the soundtrack features Dolly Parton, in a re-imagined sort of way. Not only are we getting classic Dolly but Dolly along with some of the best voices in music today. Sia and her soaring vocals join Dolly on “Here I Am” while one of pop’s best new voices, Elle King, joins Parton on the rollicking “Holdin’’ On To You.” Miranda Lambert pays homage to the queen of country on “Dumb Blonde” while pop phenomenon Willa Amai joins Parton on a reimagining of the classic “Here You Come Again.” If there was ever a partnership made in musical heaven, it is Parton’s soul infused track with the legendary Mavis Staples, the reflective and raucous “Why.” A special treat is Parton’s recording of new music like the acoustic tinged and simply lush “Girl In The Movies,” which is Parton at her absolute best. There are some classic Dolly tracks sprinkled throughout the soundtrack, “9 to 5” and a gorgeous string version of “Jolene” both make appearances. But it’s when Parton teams up with her contemporaries that she shows the dynamic kind of artist she truly is.
The Greatest Showman — reimagined
The Greatest Showman was one of last year’s most buzzed about films. Between star turns by such swoon-worthy stars as Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron and majestic music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the original soundtrack is astoundingly amazing. However, having it amped up as The Greatest Showman – Reimagined with some of today’s most prolific artists is a stroke of creative and musical genius. The first strains of Panic ! At The Disco’s version of “The Greatest Show” let us know that we are in for an absolute treat. Pink’s pure sweeping version of “A Million Dreams” is simply gorgeous (and the reprise by her daughter Willow Sage Heart will provide all the feels you need). Artists like James Arthur, taking on “Rewrite The Stars” with Anne Marie, and Jess Glynne tackling “Come Alive” with Years & Years, are given the front and center exposure that they so deserve. Craig David makes a welcome return to the music scene with his version of “Come Alive.” Two of the strongest tracks on the package are Sara Bareilles’ stunning rendition of “Tightrope” and Kelly Clarkson’s predictably glorious rendition of the now classic anthem “Never Enough.” In terms of reimagining, Clarkson is becoming the go-to songstress for taking on signature songs as her take on “It’s Quiet Outside” from Hamilton stands out as one of the best renditions I have heard of the song. Reimagining the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman would not be complete without the signature song of the summer, “This Is Me.” While Broadway dazzler Keala Settle is featured on the original soundtrack, and Ke$ha is featured on the commercial release, combining the talents of these women was a stroke of genius. Tossing in the dynamo known as Missy Elliot only amps up the emotion of the song, with the accompanying video featuring some of the boys from Queer Eye, making it stand out as one of the best videos this year. The Greatest Showman soundtrack on its own is superb, but its own “Reimagination” is simply breathtaking.
Blair St. Clair
Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race was one of the most highly rates and talked about, with credit to many of the illustrious queens that came down the runway. Blair St. Clair is a Midwest gal with Broadway sensibilities and her debut album Call My Life showed off exactly what this girl is made of. So much so that Call My Life was given the remix treatment and the hitmakers on the package are some of the most sought after in the business. The “Drew G. Club Remix” gives us the moody and melodic kind of mix that Drew is known for, while the “Dave Aude Club Mix” harkens back to some great, late 90’s-style mixes with fantastic attention paid to the infectious chorus of the track. The “Chris Cox Club Remix” amps up the BPM a bit, taking the track into a bit of a dub-esque territory while the “Ralphi Rosario Club Mix” has Rosario checking in with a slightly more subdued sound from him than we are used to. But it’s a sound that meshes effortlessly with this track, even giving some extra attention to the verses. Known master of the boards Hector Fonseca partners up with Zambianco for the “Hector Fonseca and Zambianco Club Mix” tossing a signature beat behind the track, amping up the drama and building up to a blissful chorus. The material on Call My Life and this remix package show that Blair St. Clair is destined for much more time spent on the dance floor as well as the runway!
Chic is almost its own musical genre. Part disco, part funk, all party. Guitarist and musical mastermind Nile Rodgers has curated a magical group of artists to participate on Chic’s latest offering, It’s About Time. The album is almost like Chic all grown up but not without their disco sensibilities, though and the vocal acrobatics of the stunning Kimberly Davis don’t hurt, either! “Boogie All Night” features U.K. sensation Craig David, Nile Rodgers, Chic, and Stefflon Don, while Hailee Steinfeld checks in on the infectious “Dance With Me.” The legendary Elton John merges his superb talents with the uber talented Emeli Sande on “Queen” while Lady Gaga pops in on the classic “I Want Your Love”. This track was buzzed about last year but getting it in all its full glory shows that Gaga can hit the disco floor and hustle with the best of ‘em! Chic and Rodgers show that they have that old magic when they stand on their own and “I Dance My Dance” is absolutely no exception. It’s the exact kind of disco infused fun we have always expected from Chic but with an updated energy. Decades later, Chic shows that they still have the magic to get us all to the dance floor.