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.
|Track||Title||Movie||Word 1||Word 2||Word 3||Word 4|
|1||Here’s to the Heroes||Dances with Wolves||Starts||hillbilly,||turns||opera|
|2||Now We Are Free||Gladiator||Crooning||over||gameshow||tension|
|3||Parla Piú Piano||The Godfather||Sad||and||in||Italian|
|4||Race to the End||Chariots of Fire||Should||this||have||words?|
|5||Un Giorno per Noi||Romeo and Juliet||It’s||a||duet||obviously|
|6||Vois sur ton Chemin||Les Choristes||He||haw||he||haw|
|7||My Own True Love||Gone with the Wind||This||made||no||impression|
|8||Down in the River to Pray||O Brother Where Art Thou||Acapella||with||massive||echo|
|10||Prayer in the Night||Barry Lyndon||Italian||with||English||punchline|
|11||Si un Jour||Manon des Sources||“See||a||jeweller”?||Dunno|
|12||Che Gelida Manina||Moonstruck||Slow||warbly||operaey||finish|
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.