Artist: Original SoundtrackTitle: Save The Last Dance 2Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton
Back in the 90s, some of the best Hip-Hop and R&B came from film soundtracks. Major label artists weren't releasing albums and mixtapes every 8 months, so soundtracks were a great way to stay on the scene. Remember Above the Rim and New Jersey Drive? The Show? Sunset Park? It was almost a given that any halfway decent film would have a major soundtrack to go with it, often times eclipsing the movie itself. Today, between new marketing opportunities and quicker release cycles for solo artists, soundtracks have fallen to the wayside as a promotional tool for record labels and film studios alike. Still, when musicals or dance themed pictures come around, it only makes sense to attempt to take a page out of the old book, bringing us to Save the Last Dance 2 (Mass Appeal).
While the album does pull in a few chart-topping artists, it comes nowhere near the level of star power that soundtracks once had. Most of the songs come from rookies, and few of them are impressive. Ne-Yo and Rihanna provide by-the-numbers entries ("Watch You Dance" and "The Hotness", respectively) that do a little more than get their names on the tracklist. Meanwhile, it's unlikely that Jalen or Boxie will gain any new fans with the uninspired "All I Need" or "Bridging the Gap."
There are a handful of decent attempts in the mix nonetheless. Candace Jones's neo-soul style on "You and Me" isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but is a serviceable use of a familiar style. Jaiden's "Escape" shows signs of effort, and those who are already fans of Cassie should enjoy "Kiss Me." The album certainly fares better if you listen to it on your feet since it heavily leans toward the dance mood of the movie, but those combing for gems will find little.
Save the Last Dance 2 certainly shows a new appropriate use for soundtracks: showcasing new artists by packaging them with more popular ones and capitalizing on the film's potential success. If the idea is to work though, everyone involved will have to give just a little bit more for listeners to stick around long enough to get familiar with the new-jacks. In this case, the collection is appropriate background music for the film, but won't add much to any other part of your day.