This is a song-by-song review of the Once More With Feeling
soundtrack, released by Rounder Records
in September 2002. I have omitted the last four tracks from my review, so I am reviewing the pieces that were presented in the aired TV show - but as they were presented on the soundtrack. I've skipped the three score
d pieces that are at the end because I don't feel qualified to review them as I don't have a background in classical music
or in film scores. My only qualifications to review the rest of the soundtrack are that I'm an avid fan of musicals
- Overture - As with most overtures, it draws from songs throughout the musical, but blends them together. There's nothing too special here, it just sounds like a typical overture. Going Through the Motions - Musically, this is strong opening to the show, and Sarah Michelle Gellar's voice comes through clearly - albeit without the rich layers typically heard from recording artists. The interplay with the demons is clever, although the beat between She ain't got that swing and Thanks for noticing is awkward (fortunately it's not repeated in How can I repay / Whatever). The line She's not even half the girl she - ow! seems like classic Whedon humor. Although the song's final line is the most dramatic, Gellar's voice doesn't get any more intense.
- I've Got a Theory - This opening to the medley is good, except for Nicholas Brendon's hurried spoken lines, which feel like the device they are. Bunnies - Emma Caulfield's punk rock bit isn't as strong without the visual. Having seen the show and knowing what she's doing makes it a great interlude, but without that it's incomprehensible chatter. If We're Together - The segue from "I've Got a Theory" is awkward, but the song itself is fine. Buffy's joke of hey, I've died twice is a nice reward for fans of the show who are familiar with her history. The medley ends weakly, though, partly because Anya's the only one who's afraid of bunnies.
- The Mustard - What's a musical without one song featuring pounding tympanis?
- Under Your Spell - This song tells an excellent story, and it's also one of the ones I feel I'm pretty good at singing along to. One line, the moon to the tide / I can feel you inside seems awkward and added only to make a rhyme. The ending is actually rather naughty, and is explicit in the show itself - Tara's singing Lost in ecstasy / spread beneath my willow tree while she's lying back on the bed and Willow appears to be going down on her during the final lines of You make me complete (which sounds kind of like "you make me have an orgasm-plete, but maybe that's my dirty mind).
- I'll Never Tell - This song really showcases Sweet's modus operandi, which is to have people share their innermost thoughts with each other. It's an excellent joke song, and a fine duet. Some of the lines are obscure - before I read the lyrics I never would have known there's a line His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe! There's also an unclear line from Xander; the lyrics print it as She doesn't know what "please" is but it comes out sounding like She doesn't know what pleases...which is perfectly valid, I guess. Nicholas Brendon and Emma Caulfield harmonize beautifully in the lines I lied, I said it's easy / I've tried, but there's these fears I can't quell.
- The Parking Ticket - This is a lovely little song, mostly a capella, with some soft strings for backup. The ending is fantastic and not meant to be heard in the show; I'm pretty sure the camera has focused elsewhere by the time the young woman sings Hey, I'm not wearing underwear.
- Rest In Peace - A great rocker sung by James Marsters, this song features lots of poetic and obscure language, it would be among the most difficult to interpret into another language. One line doesn't work without the visual: That's great, but I don't wanna play. The "rest in peace" concept is clever in itself - a play between sleeping/relief, and the fact that Spike actually is dead. One line I haven't figured out is You just love to play the thought that you might misbehave. The quiet bridge with rhymes for essed is pretty, and then the song goes back to rock before finishing.
- Dawn's Lament - This opens with strains from Under Your Spell, which seems to be a major musical theme as it's also in the Overture and elsewhere. The song is instrumental until about one minute in, when Michelle Trachtenberg's rather weak voice comes in for two lines. It's obvious why they didn't have her sing much in the show...her voice just too immature, although she's a good dancer. The glass-breaking crescendo is just awesome.
- Dawn's Ballet - This is inscrutable without the visuals. I have no idea where this comes from in the show, except that it must involve Dawn's journey to the demon (kidnapping, probably) because that's the next song.
- What You Feel - This is another one that I can actually sing along to pretty well. Michelle Trachtenberg's lines are superfluous and distract from an awesome performance by Hinton Battle (a three-time Tony award winner). One line - all those hearts lay open - that must sting is hurried to make it rhyme with plus some customers just start combusting, but that's the only bad part of the song. The ending is weak without the visual of the demon's reaction to Dawn's mentioning the Slayer.
- Standing - Tony Head's singing is fantastic, he's got a great range and such rich tones in his voice. The line Your path's unbeaten, and it's all uphill, and you can meet it but you never will doesn't make a whole lot of sense when broken down, but the visuals accompanying this song are great.
- Under Your Spell/Standing - Reprise - It seems unusual for a reprise to come directly after a song, but it does open with the other portion of the reprise. Amber Benson manages to convey emotion in her clear-as-a-bell voice, and the interplay between her lyrics and Tony Head's lines is a classic musical duet with two people singing unrelated stories, playing off each other.
- Walk Through the Fire - Sarah Michelle Gellar's voice starts out weakly here; i'm not sure if this is a reflection of her voice alone, or deliberately expressing what Buffy's feeling. The line I want the fire back is beautifully delivered when watching the show, but carries less weight without the visuals. The song itself is a great composition, with the electric guitars. Spike and the demon play off each other in classic musical style with (some people/she) will never learn. Tony Head's brief solo is rich, but Nicholas Brendan and Emma Caulfield are weak following it up. The visuals in this are excellent: the group walking together, Spike walking alone, Buffy walking alone. The demon's lines are not clear while the others take turns, but they are: So one by one they come to me / The distant redness as their guide / But what they'll find / Ain't what they have in mind / It's what they have inside - which doesn't make much sense! The lines of the others are what's intended to be heard, though, and they're much better - particularly Willow's fantastic I think this line's mostly filler. The final chorus with evokes the great visual of everyone coming together at the demon's lair.
- Something to Sing About - The lesson in this song is a snooze. The dance bridges in Buffy's long verses are awkward, particularly when the lines trip over each other. If you know that Buffy's fighting the urge to dance, the purpose of the rock lines between her verses are clear, but otherwise they seem out of place. Sarah Michelle Gellar's apparently untrained voice manages to come through as emotive in the verse when she mentions heaven - each time I hear it, the visuals of her friends' shocked faces come to mind. Her last lines, though, end abruptly: I want to hear another ...to sing about. The rock music picking up tempo emphasizes what's going on if you've seen the episode, but you have to remind yourself that Spike has stepped in to save her life or his solo seems jarring. His line so one of us is living is almost swallowed up, which is odd because it seems both important and deliberately private.
- What You Feel - Reprise - This song is kind of enigmatic. It's not clear where sentences end or begin, making the language hard to grasp. Hinton Battle's final notes - in hell - are wonderfully delivered and backed up by a jazzy horn beat.
- Where Do We Go From Here? - The visual accompanying Understand we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear is the best part of this song. The harmonizing by Nicholas Brendan and Emma Caulfield is pretty, and Tony Head's chiming in with Tell me is perfect, but the final group verse is strange if you don't know what's coming. The voices seem to rotate throughout the song - you can hear Amber Benson, then Emma Caulfield, and so on.
- Coda - The music seems perfunctory, the point is really the visual.
- Credits (Broom Dance - Grr Arrgh) - I'm not sure exactly what a broom dance is, but this is a classic finale to a vaudeville musical. The operatic "Grr Arrgh" is hilarious.
- Main Title - This isn't the usual main title that goes with Buffy, although it was also composed by Nerf Herder.