Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What the Soundtrack to BURLESQUE Reveals About the Movie

Burlesque is that delicious fat-free, sugar-free, calorie-less, ab-enhancing Thanksgiving pie that gay men all around the world have been eagerly waiting for. Ever since news broke last year about the studio getting ready to bake this treat, homos have been salivating all over the blogosphere about the idea of being cut a slice. And who can blame them? It has all the essential ingredients: Stanley Tucci reprising his snarky yet simpatico grandpa-gay role from The Devil Wears Prada, Veronica Mars, McSteamy, and the Abercrombie-esque villain that made the first Twilight movie slightly watchable (except this time dipped in baby oil and wearing nothing but suspenders, a bowtie, and guyliner). As far as spices go, throw in excess amounts of sequins, corsets, slutty choreography, radio-ready pop music, and a musical theater modified version of the Coyote Ugly screenplay. Then there’s the crumble - the delectable topping that you scrape off when you want just a little taste: Christina Aguilera. But while all these sound like the makings of an irresistible guilty-pleasure, they’d be nothing without the crust: the base and the foundation that holds all of these ingredients together – the saving grace without which this would be more disaster than dessert: Cher.


This is what the trailer tells us about the film so far (set to be released on Wednesday, waging a box office war against Harry Potter, Disney’s Tangled and the Anne Hathaway/Mr. Taylor Swift romantic drama Love and Other Drugs): Aguilera plays a small town girl with an ugly wig who travels to L.A. and lands a job as a cocktail waitress at a glitzy nightclub for people who prefer watching Moulin Rouge over porn. The eager Aguilera decides that she, too, wants to sing on stage but doesn’t know if she has it in her to be in the spotlight. She harasses the club owner (Cher) as she’s applying collagen enhancing ruby red lipstick, and finds inspiration from the shirtless bartender. Before we know it, she’s doing an Ashlee Simpson-during-her SNL-fuck-up inspired dance routine on stage while Cher judges and Stanley Tucci is just being Stanley Tucci. She fails to impress Cher, but all that changes point five seconds later when she belts and scales her register and everyone acts like they’ve never heard Christina try to prove her worth this hard before. A montage then shows everyone in awe of the singer, as she rises to fame and makes out with the aforementioned bartender (still shirtless) on a couch. All of a sudden, Aguilera is the prima donna of the club with all the rest of the Pussycat Dolls consigned to the role of being her backup dancers.


As per most musicals, the soundtrack serves as a plot summary to the entire thing. After listening to it once and based on the order of the songs, this is what I can tell you this movie is going to be about:


1. Something’s Got A Hold On Me – In this Etta James cover, Aguilera will be seen in her small rural hometown having dreams of grandeur. Like in the beginning of Britney Spears’ Crossroads, there’s a good chance she’ll be dancing on top of her bed in her parent’s house singing into a hairbrush with just her underwear on. The song will continue as she steps onto a one-way bus to Los Angeles and she’ll sing as she stares longingly out the window and finds her way to the city of big lights.


2. Welcome To Burlesque – The first of the two Cher tracks on the soundtrack, this one’s title pretty much explains itself. This will be the song that Cher will be performing in a sailor hat and hooker boots doing leg swings over chairs and boys who literally killed to be dancers in this movie, while Aguilera first steps inside the “Burlesque” lounge and falls in love with it. It’ll inspire her to take a job there while confirming that Cher is still the baddest bitch in town.


3. Tough Lover – Ok, confession: the only reason I know what this song is actually about is because it’s the one they use in the trailer when Cher discovers Christina can sing. So that’s what this is: the song that Christina will belt until the veins in her temples pop out and makes Marley go hide under a tree to die from all the screeching. We haven’t heard Christina scale octaves like this since her days of singing empowering ballads for ugly people.


4. But I Am A Good Girl – Uh oh, looks like Christina has made it! In this song, she’s being showered with designer dresses and jewelry. A hardly veiled knock-off of Rainbow High from the musical “Evita,” this track has Aguilera doing her absolute best Madonna-doing-Marilyn-Monroe impression. And like in “Evita,” this song is the turning point where the small town girl is all of a sudden a major celebrity.


5. A Guy What Takes His Time – Now that Christina is the new “it” girl of the club, she needs a romantic interest, right? This mid-tempo jazz number signifies her discovery of Cam Gigandet’s character, a human Ken doll who’s dressed a little bit too much like Joel Grey in Cabaret. The message of this song is that she wants to see if their connection is real before she embarks on her maiden voyage with him, but luckily the song is under three minutes long, meaning that the waiting period is about the same as it is when going on a first date with someone you meet on D-List.


6. Express – This song is clearly the one that’s going to make Christina go from local celebrity to national superstar. Big bad McSteamy will enter as the evil and enticing talent scout trying to steal Christina away from the club and put her on the main Hollywood stage. He’ll watch her shake her feathered ass while he turns into Ursula the sea witch and Christina uses a quill to sign her voice and soul away to him.


7. You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me – Written by hit-making songwriter Diane Warren (Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me”), the second Cher song finds the legendary diva warbling about how down in the dumps she is. She’s sad because Christina will most likely have betrayed her and sided with McSteamy, saying that the club needs a “younger” and “fresher” Madame – something that despite pounds of Botox, Cher can’t provide. This will prompt her to have a Regina George-esque “But I like, discovered her” monologue, and she’ll find herself lost on the streets of L.A. feeling like all she’s worked for in her life has been taken away by a watered-down Lady GaGa wannabe and a TV doctor. This is also a song that applies heavily to Cher’s own life, as rumors are swirling about that at the conclusion of her Vegas show in February, she’ll go on her 97th international farewell tour and release a brand new album.


8. Bound To You – And since Cher was sad, Christina has to be too because Christina can’t ever not try to out-compete a fellow diva (remember when she signed with Coke after Britney was already the Pepsi girl?). This song has Christina crooning about feeling trapped under her new management, making her realize that throwing Regina … er, I mean Cher … under the bus may not have been the best idea. Either that or it accompanies a tragic S&M rape scene, which judging by Christina’s “Not Myself Tonight” music video this spring, does not seem that farfetched.


9. Show Me How You Burlesque – Here comes the showstopper! Everyone is happy again! Cher is back in the club and Christina is still the reigning queen of the spotlight! I don’t know if it counts as plagiarism when you’re ripping off your own former hits, but this song has Christina doing an excellent revamping of her previous Lady Marmalade. It’s also a less dangerous but trashier Cell Block Tango, where Christina will probably be wearing a fedora with a diamond encrusted thong and knee high boots she borrowed from the Pretty Woman storage closet. This is the song that Christina says ends the movie and “will have you leave the theater dancing and in a good mood.” Easily the catchiest song on the whole record.


10. The Beautiful People – Ah, the credits song. This one has a much more contemporary feel than the rest of the tracks. Mixing contemporary pop with a sprinkling of the flapper-chic music that composes the rest of the soundtrack, this song would have been a far better choice for the lead single (rather than “Express”). It’s a cute, upbeat song that will inspire at least half the audience to go buy enough glitter to bathe themselves in while they choreograph their own Fosse routines to it.


There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about Burlesque. That being said, it looks and seems absurd enough to be majorly enjoyable. The soundtrack is fun and brings Christina more into her comfort zone than Bionic, the horrendous “comeback” album she released earlier this year that garnered little to no sales and even fewer positive reviews. While this movie will most likely not be a box office champion, listening to this soundtrack has secured my ticket for tomorrow’s opening.


And while I may have been completely off with my predictions about what this film is actually going to be about, a few things I know for certain: 1) Stanley Tucci is only one Kurt Russell away from playing the gay best friend to every main character in Silkwood, 2) Cam Gigandet will make 98% of this film’s audience’s pants a little tighter, 3) It’s going to be better than Glitter, 4) The producers weren’t smart enough to have Cher and Christina sing a duet, 5) Cher will be a shoe-in to perform “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” at this year’s Academy Awards and 6) Director and writer Steve Antwin, better known as the fat kid from The Goonies, grew up to be EXTREMELY homosexual.