From film to television to stage to television and back to film, the Fame story has traversed all types of entertainment venues in the past three decades and is now working to reclaim the theatrical screen at the end of this month. But though fans will have to wait til the end of September to see the film, the soundtrack is already available from Lakeshore Records. And with exactly an hour worth of music from the film, it’s a good statement to the amount of music performance that will be included in this “musical film,” though after the success of High School Musical it’s hard not to make comparisons since the storyline here also follows high school students, albeit at a high school specifically set up for creative types.

The first two real tracks on the album (after an opening sound bit titled “Welcome to P.A.”) – as well as the final track – sum up the main themes of the movie in their titles alone: “Fame,” “Big Things,” and “Hold Your Dream.” This is the story of a group of high school kids that are going for the big time using their talents and drive, and Naturi Naughton and Anjulie each give their songs the right poppy edge. The rest of the album is varied in both its style and execution, though there’s a clearly distinctive vein of pop music strewn throughout, heavily influenced by current musical styles. From the great (a remix of Santigold (previously Santogold)’s “You’ll Find A Way”) to the slightly painful (“Street Hustlin'”, “Can’t Hide From Love”) to the good (“Black & Gold”)  this album is as varied as the pop artists that crowd your radio stations – in other words, there’s always some noticeable throughline in the accepted popular artists of a given time period. As this album showcases, we’re in a time of electronic music and adjusted vocals.

The showdown dis-trading track “This Is My Life” stands out for its ability to tie film storyline into the soundtrack with its opening nearly-sung commentary and PG-friendly slam – “You need to get your life straight for Christ’s sake!” Though the track ultimately descends into catchphrases and nonsensicality, it’s a strong opening and feels the most like a soundtrack piece from a musical film rather than a pop compilation. The rap-story track “Get On The Floor” has a similarly plot-related sensibility and in a better format. Megan Mullally’s Broadway-style rendition of “You Took Advantage of Me” doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the album and unfortunately, isn’t a strong enough track on its own to really take this uniqueness and make it work.

Overall, this is a hit-and-miss collection of pop songs that should easily impress those fans who are already sold on the film (play/television series), while it may have a tough time converting new followers. There are a few surprising tracks here (including the Santigold remix and “You Made Me Love You” cover) along with several decent musical-style tracks that both further the plot and provide solid material for the soundtrack. This album may be best described as Rent meets High School Musical.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Anyone who’s waited almost 30 years for Fame to come back to the big screen
Stay Away if: You’re not a big fan of Rent

To purchase the soundtrack for Fame, visit Amazon

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