When Tim Burton announced he would be directing Alice in Wonderland, fans everywhere rejoiced. Burton’s wonderfully creepy style combined with the classic Lewis Carroll story is a perfect match. Then the track listing for the accompanying soundtrack was released. Many were comforted to find Danny Elfman on board to do the score however critics immediately questioned the Top 40 lineup. Did the Almost Alice music supervisors take a cue from the Mad Hatter when making the final choices for the compilation? I gave the album a listen to decide for myself.
The first track, “Alice (Underground)” by Avril Lavigne is a powerful track that sounds different than her usual pop rock fare. While you can’t deny Lavigne’s catchy pop allure, the song doesn’t really hit home as much as it should. Boasting a softer sound, All American Rejects’s decent track, “The Poison” follows Lavigne. Then Owl City and Metro Station appear to quickly remind listeners of the album’s Top-40 sensibilities. Unfortunately, their contributions,“The Technicolor Phase” and “Where’s My Angel” lack quality. Shinedown manages to pull off some evocative vocals, but sounds as run-of-the-mill as their predecessors.
Kerli, a great addition to the album, lends her her eerie style to two songs. “Strange,” performed with Tokio Hotel, doesn’t show off the singer’s creepy side enough while the overwhelming dance beat on her solo song, “Tea Party” doesn’t quite fit the film’s mood. 3OH!3’s track, “Follow Me Down,” isn’t as blatantly obnoxious as their previous hits. In fact, Neon Hitch lends her soothing voice to the track, making it pretty memorable. An odd follow-up to 3OH!3 is Robert Smith’s “Very Good Advice.” The song is more weird than enjoyable, but still manages to capture Alice.
The long-awaited collaboration from Mark Hoppus and Pete Wentz, “In Transit” is underwhelming — a boring, droning song when compared to the rest of the album (perhaps that’s why it’s placed between two slower tracks). The Plain White T’s manage to steal Hoppus and Wentz’s thunder with a stripped tune, “Welcome to Mystery.” Franz Ferdinand follows with something a slower, vaudeville-influenced tune,“The Lobster Quadrille.” “Running Out Of Time,” from Motion City Soundtrack lightens the mood with a light, airy sound that the soundtrack needs more of. Then Wolfmother’s “Fell Down A Hole” booms in, loud and rocking. A great track on it’s own, the harder rock sounds doesn’t necessarily vibe with the rest of the album. The refreshing “White Rabbit” by Grace Potter and the Nocturals is the album’s true gem. A cover of the Jefferson Airplane hit, the vocals are strong and loud with a balance of hard and airy guitar backing. The album concludes with They Might Be Giants and “You Are Old, Father William,” a silly tune based on the poem by Lewis Carrol but a fantastic close to an otherwise flat album.
Overall, the album has a few hits and a lot of misses. The songs that shine do so brightly and the ones that severely lack quality are, at least, terribly catchy. As a compliment to Burton’s film, most tracks fail in comparison to Danny Elfman’s score. His work, as well as the actual film, is generating far more excitement. As a whole, I’ll just say this soundtrack won’t be fielding any GRAMMY nominations soon.
Here’s the full track listing:
1. “Alice (Underground)” performed by Avril Lavigne
2. “The Poison” performed by The All American Rejects
3. “The Technicolor Phase” performed by Owl City
4. “Her Name Is Alice” performed by Shinedown
5. “Painting Flowers” performed by All Time Low
6. “Where’s My Angel” performed by Metro Station
7. “Strange” performed by Tokio Hotel and Kerli
8. “Follow Me Down” performed by 3Oh!3 featuring Neon Hitch
9. “Very Good Advice” performed by Robert Smith
10. “In Transit” performed by Mark Hoppus with Pete Wentz
11. “Welcome to Mystery” performed by Plain White T’s
12. “Tea Party” performed by Kerli
13. “The Lobster Quadrille” performed by Franz Ferdinand
14. “Running Out of Time” performed by Motion City Soundtrack
15. “Fell Down a Hole” performed by Wolfmother
16. “White Rabbit” performed by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
17. “You Are Old, Father William” performed by They Might Be Giants