Stephen Sondheim Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (The Motion Picture Soundtrack) Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Parents should prepare themselves for hearing one or two tracks on repeat.

Jenny Nelson 2007

Musicals, eh? For every person who grew up listening to The Sound of Music twice a day after school, there's another who shudders at the mere thought of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and not because they're afraid of the Child Catcher.

Under director Tim Burton’s supervision, the original Stephen Sondheim score has been recorded using the actors' own singing voices. You've probably already heard that Johnny Depp is rather proud of his own dulcet tones. His speaking voice as Todd is reminiscent of his Willy Wonka, with a bit of Michael Caine thrown in for good cock-er-ney measure. On the whole, the actors perform their songs with gusto and we can safely agree that Alan Rickman is the best villain ever – his Judge Turpin puts the Sheriff of Nottingham to shame.

It goes without saying that the score is integral to the film, more so than if you were listening to a compilation of songs, so this isn’t your typical background music. Refrains recur throughout the album, such as "Johanna", the ode to Todd’s wife, and the cheeky ''ello guv'nor' child actor who performs the catchiest, most car journey friendly songs Pirelli's Magical Elixir and "God, That's Good!".

In "The Worst Pies In London", Helena Bonham Carter does her best to entertain, with such descriptions of one of her culinary treats as 'it looks like it's moulting'; this song is an effective antithesis to Mary Poppins encouraging kiddies to swallow a spoonful of sugar.

"Pretty Women", the duet between Depp and Rickman, is a definite highlight, not solely due to the calibre of the actors involved. The conversation between Judge Turpin and barbarous butcher Todd, a delicate preamble to Turpin's inevitable demise, is touchingly executed, with Rickman's contented 'ba ba ba ba's and Todd's pretty, sinister whistling.

Children will love certain songs but will dismiss the more wishy-washy instrumentals - be warned that Johnny says ‘sh*t’ in a couple of the tracks, as that may throw responsible types - and parents should prepare themselves for hearing one or two tracks on repeat.

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