Opinions seem to be evenly split on Jane Fonda-Jennifer Lopez comedy "Monster-in-Law," the tale of a suffocating mama who makes life miserable for her son's new fiance. But one thing can be discerned: Lots of good music on the soundtrack, ranging from MTV pop stars to little-known dancepopsters.
Some popular and vocally blessed songwriters are included here. Among them is Jem, with her pretty lighthearted "Just A Ride," Rachael Yamagata's playful "1963," and Ivy's rollicking love song "Thinking About You." A harder note comes in with Tegan and Sarah's "Walking With A Ghost," but there is also pop wunderkind Nellie McKay's "Won't U Please B Nice?" and Esthero's funky "Everyday is a Holiday With You."
And there's Astaire's dancey, poppy "L-L-Love," one of the less organic songs of the album. A more bluesy note enters near the end, with Magnet's guitar-pop "Where Happiness Lives," Dar Williams' lovely "Beauty of the Rain," and Madeleine Peyroux's piano-jazzy "Don't Wait Too Long."
I'm not sure who chooses the songs for movies like these, but apparently whoever did has some truly excellent taste. Bands like many of these -- especially the jazzier or bluesier artists, are often lacking from movie soundtracks, but they also add a charming delicacy to a very basic-sounding comedy.
Not that this is entirely perfect -- Joss Stone's "Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin' On Me?) Pt. 1" just doesn't fit in with the others. It's not a bad song, not at all, but it seems rather garish beside Yamagata and Ivy. And Rosey, a little-known funk-pop-hop singer, get shortchanged with a remix of "Love." Better to include the original.
However, those problems are outweighed by the mild indie cred (Ivy, Tegan & Sara) and the ability to include good pop singers (Jem, Yamagata). What's even better, many of the songs seem to fit together. Yamagata, Jem, Esthero, Rosey, Peyroux, and Ivy have similarly flexible voices, often husky and always strong in tone. The songs themselves tend to be a bit playful and romantic.
I'm not sure yet what kind of movie "Monster in Law" will be, but the soundtrack is a smooth, relaxing ride with only a few bumps. (And not a single song by J.Lo)