RIO OST: Kids’ music you can actually listen to

It’s heartening to see the animated movie, RIO, still in the Top Ten at the US box office. A whole bunch of kids’ movies came our way over the Easter school holidays: Gnomeo and Juliet we missed, Rango was a day out with Gran (hallelujah) and Hop I fell asleep in. (I have low blood sugar!) The 3D glasses hid my snooze as I dozily realized that I don’t care for Russell Brand, as a rabbit or a human.

But RIO I liked. And we’ve found that the soundtrack is equally enjoyable. For where else can you introduce your children to the joys of Sergio Mendes and Jermaine Clement* with the same album?

Mr Mendes and John Powell are the album producers and, as you probably know, the musical numbers are integral to both the story – bird meets bird, bird loses bird, bird learns to fly – and the setting, Brazil.

Btw, does anyone know of a movie set in Brazil that doesn’t include Carnival? Just wondering.

The soundtrack is heavy on the party music with a couple sweet love songs thrown in. One of the things that most impressed me was that out of 14 tunes there is very little soundtrack filler. Okay, my girls got a little bored with the last few numbers, which are all sung in Portuguese. But really, the first eight tunes are stand-alone strong. They’ve even reworked the classic “Mas Que Nada,” and how cool is that to hear YO doing her best Gracinha and singing along in the backseat. Now I know what my Dad felt like when we asked him to play his Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass records.

The big production numbers are sung by voices you know – Will I Am, Anne Hathaway and Jamie Foxx – and voices you don’t, namely Ester Dean who sounds almost exactly like Rihanna. The music will make you move while the lyrics, well, the lyrics are hopelessly silly: “Let me take you to Rio, Rio / Fly on the ocean like an eagle, eagle / Then we can chill in my gazebo” Gazebo? Someone get that writer a rhyming dictionary, stat! And I haven’t even gotten to ‘Funky Monkey’.

But you know it’s kid’s music. It’s clean and it’s fun and of a much higher standard than the tunes in so many of these animated flicks. Why do these producers insist on reworking ‘80s tunes. Is that to amuse us parents – a sign of your ironic sense of humor – or are you just lazy? If I wanted my girls to hear ‘I Want Candy’ I’d play the original Bow Wow Wow version, not a lukewarm rehash by some wannabe Justin Beiber.

But back to RIO. The film’s director, Carlos Saldanha, says the RIO soundtrack “represents a dream come true”. If you’re a fan of Brazilian music – and you like to move your monkey feet – it probably is.

*from Flight of the Conchords! Here’s some more of him:

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