#MusicMonday: Singable review of ‘Les Mis’ soundtrack

The new ‘Les Mis’ cast members are singing while acting? We return the favor by reviewing while singing about its soundtrack.

CAN THEY STILL BE FRIENDS? Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne as lovelorn youth. All photos by Universal Pictures

MANILA, Philippines – Is it a hit or a “Mis”?

Here is a singable exploration of the album whose full title is “Les Misérables, the Musical Phenomenon: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack.”

A MUSICAL COLLECTOR’S ITEM. The face (featuring Isabelle Allen’s own) of the new ‘Les Misérables’ soundtrack compact disc

I. Ah, the much-hyped 2012 musical movie 

Landing in local theaters just this January

Oh, such hoopla for Tom Hooper’s picture

Getting “Les Mis” fans all so giddy


II. ’Tis quite the cinematic curiosity

Its camera work in-your-face, all right

So distracting that host Seth MacFarlane

Will likely ape it on Oscar night


III. But director Hooper did not stop there

He made all his actors sing live on the set

Some of them aren’t even vocal experts

Good or bad, the tack sure is hard to forget


IV. Yet as the liner notes of this record reveals

It’s not just Hooper who made that bold decision:

Producer Cameron Mackintosh, too, yearned for a live “Les Mis”

Citing “The Commitments” as cinematic inspiration


V. Many have seen and buzzed about the flick

That its distributor should be truly in the black

Now how about this chorus-less interlude

To briefly explore the film’s soundtrack?


VI. First, I must note, only “Highlights” are included

In this one disc, instead of West End’s original two

Purists might rant that what used to be 49 tracks

Is now down to 19 plus a tune that’s brand new

UP CLOSE AND PROFESSIONAL. Hugh Jackman is in our face and ears as beleaguered Jean Valjean

VII. The CD’s total time is almost 66 minutes

Whereas the source movie is a good 2.5 hours

Of course the absence of the film’s many images

Helps to make this album manageably sparse 


VIII. From the opening “Look Down” to the closing “Epilogue”

The playlist is, yes, by turns thunderous and tender

And because this is sans visuals, we get to listen to

Anne Dudley and Stephen Metcalfe’s orchestrations better


IX. As expected, the most prominent of the singing actors

Is Hugh Jackman as lead character Jean Valjean

It’s practically inarguable that he did a fine job

As the escaped convict branded as “24601”


X. The Australian who’s also known as Wolverine

Is even afforded a flattering distinction 

Sharing scenes and songs with the original Jean Valjean:

London and Broadway cast member Colm Wilkinson


XI. From the get-go we hear Jackman and another fellow,

Via “Look Down” and “The Confrontation,” mano-a-mano

And, as has been asserted far and wide now,

The humbled man in this face-off is Russell Crowe


XII. Crowe may have sonic chops, from being in a rock band

But here the otherwise great actor sounds hard to bear

His singing does not well convey the fearsomeness of 

Valjean’s nemesis, the notorious Inspector Javert

CRYING HER LUNGS OUT. Anne Hathaway gives her all while delivering ‘I Dreamed a Dream’

XIII. Another vocal duel of sorts: Eddie Redmayne as lovestruck Marius

Against a fellow revolutionary student played by Aaron Tveit

As evidenced by “ABC Café/Red and Black”

It’s Aaron, despite his smaller role, who turns out more okay


XIV. Rivals as well here are Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks

Who portray childhood girls now all grown

Seyfried sure can softly sing, but it’s the more-honed Barks

Who sounds lilting, as Eponine crying ’bout being “On My Own”


XV. My apologies if I keep harping on “Les Mis’s” pairs

But here’s one more: for the rowdy-cheery “Master of the House”

There’s “Sweeney Todd’s” Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, 

Though it’s the former Borat who’s the more listenable louse


XVI. As mentioned above, Hugh Jackman shines in this tale of love

He even gets gifted with the all-new solo track “Suddenly”

It’s a sonorous ballad that strikes a poignant chord

To those of us who take to heart the role of doting daddy


XVII. All that said, there’s no denying the draw of Anne Hathaway

Her take on “I Dreamed a Dream” may be lesser than a Lea Salonga

Yet, amid gentle harp and strings, with her sobbing and singing

You’d wish she was on our eyes and ears for much longer


XVIII. Perhaps I should add: “The Final Battle” is this disc’s lone instrumental

And that at least two of the catchier tunes of the theatrical “Les Miz” —

The Valjean solo “Who Am I?” and the ensemble rouser “Lovely Ladies” —

Are absent here and, by longtime fans, could be sorely missed


XIX. All told, this “Highlights” soundtrack is a nifty companion

To this 7th ever “Misérables” film’s eventual DVD

For those who care not for “One Day More” or “Bring Him Home”

Well, this will still not ever be your cup of tea


XX. Whether “Les Miz” is familiar or new to us

Here’s hoping that, young or old, off we’ll go

And check out or re-read the source material of all this:

The classic of a novel by French author Victor Hugo.


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