Avatar Four Word Reviews: Tenor at the Movies

I cannot explain how Four Word Reviews work. The CDs just arrive, I don’t choose them, and they arrive by their own mysterious schedule. Right now I have a lot of them stacked up. Being in a position where I had a lot to choose from, I took a punt on Jonathan Ansell’s Tenor at the Movies, basically because I’d never heard of him. Here he is, look.

Turns out Jonathan Ansell was a member of G4, who did operatic covers of pop songs and came second in the original series of “X Factor”. A few years later, in 2008, he went solo, and released this album of movie scores with him singing over the top.

I didn’t really connect with this album, and there are three good reasons for that. The first should be obvious to anyone who knows me, which is that I don’t watch many films, so I recognised very few of these pieces. I think part of the idea is that you already know them. The second is that I am not even remotely into opera. I have no idea what to make of it. It means nothing to me.

The third reason I didn’t really connect with it is that I listened to the album while grappling with the difficult final level of Theme Hospital, and my attention was diverted at several points by maintenance problems in the Slack Tongue Clinic, the building of a new ward block and a Gut Rot epidemic. That isn’t the fault of Mr. Ansell or his songs, but it did mean that my attention was not fully on the music.

As a result of those three things, the Four Word Reviews from this album show an even greater level of detachment than usual. I wasn’t sure such a thing was possible, but it turns out that it is.

TrackTitleMovieWord 1Word 2Word 3Word 4
1Here’s to the HeroesDances with WolvesStartshillbilly,turnsopera
2Now We Are FreeGladiatorCrooningovergameshowtension
3Parla Piú PianoThe GodfatherSadandinItalian
4Race to the EndChariots of FireShouldthishavewords?
5Un Giorno per NoiRomeo and JulietIt’saduetobviously
6Vois sur ton CheminLes ChoristesHehawhehaw
7My Own True LoveGone with the WindThismadenoimpression
8Down in the River to PrayO Brother Where Art ThouAcapellawithmassiveecho
9SeCinema ParadisoOverwroughtemotionalItalianthing
10Prayer in the NightBarry LyndonItalianwithEnglishpunchline
11Si un JourManon des Sources“Seeajeweller”?Dunno
12Che Gelida ManinaMoonstruckSlowwarblyoperaeyfinish

Somewhere early on in the album – I’m pretty sure during track 4, which is the music from “Chariots of Fire” – it dawned on me that most film scores don’t have words, and yet here was some lad called Jonathan singing an awful lot of words. It turns out that not only does the piece not have words, but it’s also not called “Race to the End”. When Vangelis wrote it, he just called it “Chariots of Fire”, so presumably when Jonathan Ansell came along he gave it not just lyrics but also a new name. The lyrics are great, by the way. Here, try singing this to the bit of the theme tune that comes into your head first:

There is but one freedom
Man running along
Each step that he’s taking
A step to his soul

A lot of this album is in either Italian or French (though I greatly appreciated track 10 ending every Italian-language verse with the line “prayer in the night” in English, just so you know what the title is). A lot of it is from films I’ve never heard of and refuse to believe exist. Is there a movie called “Barry Lyndon”? Really? I don’t think so.

In summary, then, my favourite thing about this album was that it includes special codes at the back so you can download ringtones of four of the tracks to your mobile phone (for “Now We Are Free”, text ANSELL101 to 85123 for a RealTone version, £3 plus VAT, or text ANSELL201 for a polyphonic version, £2 plus VAT). My least favourite thing is that this album does not work at all well as a soundtrack for Theme Hospital.

18 comments on “Four Word Reviews: Tenor at the Movies

  • What we have is a berk who was in a berk band who went solo berk and released an album that opera berks would fawn over.

  • Thats a new concept… Opera Boy sings newly lyric-ed versions of 90’s videogame background midi tracks. Think of the hits:

    – Theme Hospital
    – Transport Tycoon
    – Sonic The Hedgehog
    – Road Rash
    – James Pond

    I’ll get Pete Waterman on it right away.

  • If Opera Boy would to do any of the music from Crash Bandicoot I’d be right behind this project.

  • Ah yes, Chariots if fire. The outdated method used by fire marshals to evacuate people from tall buildings. It’s a shame they don’t still employ it; I’d love to ride out of a burning building on a chariot.

  • I’m not sure I would. The chariots were beautiful and majestic, certainly, but once you were in one, the fireman would just lob you out of a window, and you’d usually just die on impact instead of dying of smoke inhalation.

  • Someone should also point out to him that his joke doesn’t work anymore. A tenner at the movies? Most Odeons only charge £6.00 now for a ticket.

  • Should we talk about the fact that “Barry Lyndon” cannot possibly be the name of a feature film?

  • Of course it is. It’s one of Stanley Kubrick’s films. Not that I have ever seen it.

    I mean if it was called Barry from Eastenders that would be much worse.

  • Yes. That’s the one. Barry Lyndon, space hero, sets sail with a couple of monkeys on a black monolith for sexy pirates on an abandoned satellite in the Crunk-u-lon nebula.

  • Outstanding knowledge. Indeed it was and performed by Patricia Routledge. It’s out of print at the moment but if you can find a copy anywhere I would highly recommend it.

  • I love anything with Patricia Routledge in, or “Patty the Ledge” as I’ve always called her. She hates that.

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