TV soundtracks can be ways to discover new music, or just for a studio to cash in on a hot property. CBS Music's Hawaii Five-O: Original Songs From The Television Series is a bit of both.
It wouldn't be the first time that a soundtrack has come out for sheer merchandising purposes. There are a lot of those, where songs clearly end up in a TV show just to push a single or so that a CD can be made up later. Heck, even some of the soundtracks that come out after a season aren't very good.
Hawaii Five-O's disc curiously takes the opposite tack from most soundtracks: the CD is billed on Amazon as containing songs that best suited season two's storylines, according to show producers. Yet season two is still in production. So either the producers knew their storylines well in advance (which is possible)...or they had general ideas, picked the songs first, and will now be putting them into the show. That last part kinda feels like the songs are being woven into the show to sell the CD, doesn't it?
We'll never know - and it doesn't really matter. Despite the suspect origins, the Hawaii Five-O soundtrack - if taken on its own merits as an album and not considering how well its songs might truly work with the show, of course - is actually pretty listenable. It's cheap, besides, sitting at a flat $10 as of this writing.
The CD gives fans a chance to own not just Brian Tyler's fantastic version of the iconic H5O main title theme, but also a suite from the show's score put together by Tyler and Keith Power. It's great that there's a sampling of the show's score alongside the needle drops - there are some truly wonderful TV scores out there today, and this is one of them.
There are also some recognizable names on the disc, and their selections don't disappoint. The Goo Goo Dolls, Train and Switchfoot turn in a trio of catchy rock songs with growling vocals - "Best of Me," "Should We Believe" and "Out of Control" - that seem like they'd fit on the bands' next albums, not like they're just manufactured for a soundtrack. On the flip side, Corinne Bailey Rae contributes "Closer," which fills the "slow, romantic ballad" quotient with her silky vocals.
No Hawaii Five-O album would be complete without tracks that reflect the sound of the Hawaiian islands, too. Jimmy Cliff's "World Upside Down" does just that, although it does veer into preachy territory when he starts singing about tyranny and a not-too-short list of the world's problems. Bob Dylan contributes "Don't Ever Take Yourself Away" which works even better. And if that's not enough, there's a track called "Ukelele Five-O," courtesy of Jake Shimabukuro. It doesn't get more straightforward than that.
Also including tracks from Ziggy Marley, The Swell Season and John Cruz, the Hawaii Five-O soundtrack is worth the relatively inexpensive investment. There's enough pop/rock here (and good pop/rock) to appeal to a mainstream audience, while there's also enough of a unique sound to broaden your horizons as well. It might be a merchandising effort, but darned if it's not a successful one.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.