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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- Once More, With Feeling


I don't know what it is about these letter "C" albums lately and my sixteenth year of being, but when I was sixteen, I was pretty obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  During Buffy's landmark second season, I would think about the show every day of the week.  My crazy teen emotions found a great home in the epic roller-coaster of Buffy Summers' life. Whatever I got from that program during its seven year run, I think Buffy helped me learn to be a hero.  But whatever, it's just a dumb TV show, and it never made me sob uncontrollably, so let's fast-forward to the sixth season episode, "Once More, With Feeling."
"Once More, With Feeling" is the classic musical episode, a standout in Buffy's storied run.  All kinds of stuff happens, and there are all kinds of back-stories tied into it, but I am not reviewing "Once More, With Feeling" the episode, but Once More, With Feeling the album, composed by show creator Joss Whedon, and sung by the cast.  Does this soundtrack stand up on its own?
Heck if I know.  I love this episode, and try as I might when I listen, I don't think I can push it completely out of my mind.  However, I think on the listens I partook of for this review, I distanced myself decently far away enough to offer a fairly objective review.
Once More, With Feeling is a charming collection of songs. I'm confident that a listener who has never seen Buffy can at least put together the emotional story of the songs the cast is singing:
There's this monster-fighting girl who's just not feeling it anymore.  Now she is faced with a monster who kills with song, and everyone in town, including the girl, is forced to belt out their strongest emotions thanks to his influence.  The monster-fighting girl has all these friends with problems, too, but these friends are mostly ignoring those problems, much to their detriment.  The girl has a mentor who feels like he is holding her back, and thinks he should leave town.  She also has a lover that isn't a lover, and he is pissed off about it. Conflict ensues.
The cast has great chemistry, and even if they are never going to be on Broadway, they are good fun to hear singing together.  The songs cover plenty of genres, from pop and metal ballads, to feisty retro-numbers, and when things get serious, the entertainment value doesn't flag.  In fact, the serious stuff is probably the best, especially near the end when all of the character threads start to converge.

But let's get real. My compact disc library is not exactly inundated with musical soundtracks. Would I voluntarily listen to this if it wasn't Buffy?
Yeah, I might. It's really good, and the goofier songs are pretty funny. Not many songs from other albums boast the lyric "his penis got diseases from the Chumash tribe." Plus, there are three classical compositions composed by Christophe Beck from three other major episodes. These classical pieces sound like they should be attached to a major motion picture, not some UPN drama that definitely never made me cry so hard my sleeves had snot all over them and I had to change.

2002 Rounder
1 Medley 2:57
2 Medley 2:21
3 The Mustard 0:19
4 Under Your Spell 2:54
5 I'll Never Tell 4:01
6 The Parking Ticket 0:44
7 Rest in Peace 2:45
8 Dawn's Lament 1:18
9 Dawn's Ballet 1:12
10 What You Feel 3:01
11 Standing 2:10
12 Medley 1:34
13 Walk Through the Fire 3:43
14 Something to Sing About 4:40
15 What You Feel 0:45
16 Where Do We Go From Here? 1:52
17 Coda 0:41
18 End Credits 0:33
19 Main Title (originally composed by Nerf Herder) 0:26
20 Suite From "Restless"  5:04
21 Suite From "Hush"  6:56
22 Sacrifice From "The Gift" 2:57
23 Something to Sing About (Cole, Whedon demo) 4:27


Neal said...

Yeah... Buffy never made the two of us tear up either... no sir.

Buffy had its ups and downs, the sixth season in particular, but the musical is a standout that I/we particularly loved. Oh, and we finally got around to finishing the series after August. We got over our angst/anger over the manufactured breakup of Anya and Xander, reaching the end. That darn Spike should have believed what Buffy told him!

*ahem* Back on track, Joss Whedon is an oddly talented guy for music. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is similarly able to hit on the serious and funny tones that this Buffy episode was able to, all while describing an incredible character and story arc.

laurenthevampireslayer said...

gosh. I have been meaning to buy that cd for so long!! especially since i dont know if i'll ever make it to season 6 with ashleigh at the pace we are going!

Nicholas said...

The extremely high heights of Season Six make its lows all the more frustrating, though all in all I think it is one of my favorites. I really do like the "everyday life is more tough than monsters" angle. When I see y'all in person again, we can now have the "which season is best?" debate! I can't wait! Whedon is definitely an anomaly.
Lauren, Ashleigh is down for the Whedonverse count. You must forge ahead alone!