The formula for a successful movie soundtrack is simple: Get one or two hit singles, add a couple of subpar throwaways from some recognizable names and pad the rest with inexpensive, no-name acts.
For a textbook example of the soundtrack formula, look no further than "Music From the Motion Picture 'Any Given Sunday' " (Warner Sunset/ Atlantic). This hyperactive tie-in with Oliver Stone's equally hyperactive football epic is loaded with forgettable filler from both unknowns (Overseer, Swizz Beatz) and superstars (Hole, DMX). But the people who assembled it had the decency to do one thing: They put the good songs first, so you don't have to waste time sifting through the detritus to find the gems. You can check out the first 15 minutes or so and promptly file "Any Given Sunday" between the "Anaconda" and "Armageddon" soundtracks.
Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott gets the ball rolling with the hip-hop baroque of "Who You Gonna Call," a rousing opener that's the album's best track. One of only two female acts on a soundtrack oozing with testosterone-addled crotch-grabbing and chest-thumping, Elliott talks trash more elegantly than Kid Rock and Godsmack, who also appear here. East Coast hip-hoppers Capone-N-Noreaga and Mobb Deep make the only other worthy contributions. The rest of this soundtrack deserves to be benched.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8176.)
One new soundtrack that's worth checking out is "Next Friday: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Priority). The film was written and produced by Ice Cube, who also produced the soundtrack, a sequel to Cube's 1995 "Friday."
The most anticipated track on this consistent hip-hop and R&B sampler is probably "Chin Check," the first song from what's being billed as N.W.A. in nearly a decade (Snoop Dogg fills in for the late Eazy-E). But "Chin Check" is somewhat disappointing--you'd expect more than standard gangsta rap from this historically important collective. Ice Cube does a lot better on his own with the propulsive "You Can Do It," displaying the old spark that's been absent from his recent work. Dr. Dre protege Eminem lends his characteristic wit to "Murder Murder," and Pharoahe Monch and Aaliyah both deliver radio-ready hits. The Wu-Tang Clan, in somewhat of an artistic slump lately, manage to steal the show with the lyrically inventive "Shoalin Worldwide." Wyclef Jean gives the Clan a run for its money with the hilarious "Low Income," which does not rely heavily on a kitschy '80s sample.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 202-334-8177.)
CAPTION: Flavors of the week: The soundtracks for "Next Friday," above, with Ice Cube and Lisa Rodriguez, and "Any Given Sunday," starring Al Pacino.