Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The Album

Various Artists

Buena Vista Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's hip - so hip that its lingo has already worn out its welcome in popular society. So hip that it has transcended its original medium and expanded into arenas you never dreamed it could go to.

No, not "Survivor" - though if I hear one more pinhead use the line "voted off the island," I'm gonna cast my vote, in the form of an anvil, in their direction. No, the cultural pantheon I speak of is "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," that little old TV show that is spawning more unrelated merchandise than you can say "Pac-Man".

Exhibit 1,214: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The Album. May God have mercy on us all.

Okay, wait a second here. Let me try to remove myself from pop culture for just a moment. God knows I like the television show as much as the next debt-ridden creep next to me, and I too dream about acing the 15th question and telling Regis Philbin, "Damn straight that's my final answer." I'm so unhip, it makes me puke.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But, no, let's forget about all of that for as much as we can. Let's focus in on the music - after all, that's what drew our interest in this disc in the first place. And, with only two slips, the music turns out to be well-chosen.

Certain reviewers like Eric E5S16 may think I'm going to call Philbin on the carpet for his 1968 recording of "Pennies From Heaven," which is included on this disc. And, yeah, I admit I wasn't exactly looking forward to that track. But I'll give Philbin credit: the man has a good voice, and knows how to sing a song. He's no hack, unlike many television stars-turned-wannabe-singers. And, in the end, this song turns out to be enjoyable.

Same thing goes for artists like Blondie ("Call Me"), Roy Orbison ("You Got It") and Barrett Strong ("Money (That's What I Want)"); these are songs that not only fit the general theme of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The Album, but they're entertaining songs in their own right. It's kind of like listening to a best-of disc, only with sound bites from the show (including two people hitting it big).

So where are the slips on this disc? First - and possibly the biggest - is having T-Bone Burnett perform "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend". I realize that getting clearance for a version such as Marilyn Monroe's aren't the easiest things to get approval for, but cripes, I would have preferred hearing Carol Channing sing than listen to this unhip version again.

The other "slip" is much more slight; I just couldn't get into Jack And Jenna's "I Want To Be A Millionaire," the only original song (except for John Griffin's "Griff's Millionaire Mix") on this disc. I found myself gravitating to other artists like Billy Ocean or The O'Jays rather than this new group. Oh, well; to each his or her own. (While we're at it, I can't say I always liked the soundbites from the show. It got a little corny at times.)

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The Album, admittedly, is cashing in on a fad, but so long as most of the music is as strong as what this disc has, let it keep cashing checks. (Now, if they could casually drop one of those my way... cell phones aren't getting any less expensive.)

Rating: B

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Buena Vista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.