DADDY DAY CARE: SOUNDTRACK
Review by Brad Green:
Is it just me, or is there something ironic about young Michael Jackson recordings turning up on the soundtrack to a film called Daddy Day Care? If Jackson really is innocent of child abuse then you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy, but the fact that he’s been guilty of various forms of self-abuse is patently obvious, even without the cretinous journalism of Martin Bashir to inform us. Whether it was the putative beatings from his father, the absence of any semblance of normal childhood or the years of merciless media glare, something undoubtedly put a share of whacko into Jacko.
Here we have a couple of old Jackson 5 classics, with Michael leading the way at age three-and-a-half or so. He sings with extraordinary sensitivity for such tender years, and hits some great notes as well as a few bum ones. Perhaps Jacko’s real problem is that he has always been the most overrated and underrated of artists. No genuine musical genius like Prince (to whom he was most often compared as their respective black-funk-pop dominated the 1980s) he learned from the beginning to apply his natural showmanship to foundations laid by the best in the business.
Even so, his huge hits of the eighties produced by Quincy Jones, extraordinary talent that Jones is, sound sterile compared to these old grooves. The synth tones may have dated, but it matters little because the syncopated bass lines of I Want You Back, the soulful solfege of ABC and all the layering of catchy phrases into powerful song structure are simply timeless. As previously stated, the prodigiousness of the Junior Jacko can be exaggerated, but prodigious he was, and because these recordings stand the test of the years, his abilities won’t be forgotten. In stark contrast to the white bread images and saccharine hits of the Britneys of today, which are destined to dissolve at the flick of a fad.
One thing Jackson seems to have learned belatedly is that getting bits and pieces off your chest is a better palliative than having bits and pieces removed cosmetically from your face. Yes, confession can be cathartic, and I’m going to take this opportunity to do a little fessing up of my own. This soundtrack covers the extremes of the pop spectrum from Jackson 5 to MOR country, and included in the latter is a track that yours truly practically rotated to dust at about the same age Jackson was being turned into a superstar. Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy is the first song I remember becoming addicted to, and not having revisited it for an aeon I was curious to assess just how immature my taste was back in the single-digit years. Perhaps a bias has lodged itself in my brain, but those opening piano chords immediately reeled me in once again and the melody is so infectious that even in this cynical time of life I can forgive the lyric, which I now recognise as gaudier than a star-spangled rodeo.
On the subject of wonderful songs that suffer from passe poetry, there aren’t many tunes that can overcome a lyric like “Fly my high through the starry skies/Maybe to an astral plane”, but Gary Wright’s Dreamweaver has too much propulsion in the melody and performance departments to be brought down to earth by weak wordage. Albeit on different astral plane stylistically, it shares the honour with the Jackson 5 tracks of being about as close as pop gets to a kind of artistry.
No such aspirations for the other ditties that fill out the album, but as far as unpretentious chart-fodder goes, songs like Katrina and the Waves’ Walking On Sunshine are a cut above your average fluff.
Eddie Murphy movies, both good and bad, have a tradition of outstanding soundtracks. The best on both fronts remains Coming To America, but Beverly Hills Cop gave us the great Axel Foley theme and even the execrable Harlem Nights featured a score by none other than Herbie Hancock. While the standard isn’t quite so high here, it is still a fine pop collection made more interesting for its diversity. Murphy’s comedic flair seems to be on the same incline as Jacko’s career, but at least it remains noteworthy for his having played so many faces instead of actually becoming so many faces.
Published July 3, 2003
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TITLE: Daddy Day Care
ARTISTS: Hilary Katrina and the Waves; Bachman-Turner Overdrive; Jackson 5; Harry Nilsson; Glen Campbell; The Ramones; Carl Douglas; Gary Wright; Sweet; Cheap Trick; Bow Wow Wow