The idea is a clever concept, but certainly not a new one; it was even done for “The Passion of the Christ.” The goal is to figure out a way to make money off a related soundtrack when the movie itself doesn’t have one. In this case, Tim Burton’s highly-anticipated Disney film, which opens March 5, features a score by his long-time collaborator Danny Elfman, but no stand-alone songs so Disney label imprint Buena Vista decided to create one. The only song here that comes within a mile of the movie is Avril Lavigne’s "Alice," which is played during the end credits.
Having said that, although we lost count of how many songs here reference “the looking glass” and “falling down the rabbit hole,” there are some wonderfully inventive tunes here, along with the usual, regrettable filler. Motion City Soundtrack’s “Always Running Out of Time” is pure pop delight. Plain White T’s create a magical, Beatle-esque psychedelic pop tune, “Welcome to the Mystery” that no one who’s only heard “Hey There Delilah” would believe they were capable of making. The Cure’s Robert Smith comes up with a typically twisted, off-kilter “Very Good Advice” (a remake of a song featured in Disney’s animated “Alice in Wonderland” classic), while The All American Rejects reinvent themselves the chugging country beat of “The Poison.” Shinedown’s “Her Name is Alice” manages to be menacing and spooky, even when it’s just talking about a girl crawling through a window. And God bless Franz Ferdinand, who masterfully tackle “The Lobster Quadrille,” written by “Alice” author Lewis Carroll.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals get the utterly thankless task of remaking Jefferson Starship’s drug-fueled “White Rabbit.” Potter is a strong singer, but she can’t come close to matching Grace Slick’s original feralness.
As far as the missteps, the two biggest are Metro Station’s completely mundane “Where’s My Angel,” and the impossibly out-of-place, although catchy, “Tea Party” from Estonia’s Kerli. The song is the third single, following the sprightly, rhythmic 3Oh!3 and Neon Hitch’s “Follow Me Down.” Kerli is clearly the priority break-out star here as she’s also represented by “Strange,” a duet with Tokio Hotel).
Most of the songs were recorded specifically for the soundtrack except for “The Technicolor Phase” by Owl City. The tune, originally on his no-longer available 2008 set “Maybe I’m Dreaming,” has the same gooey goodness of “Fireflies,” so if you love that, you’ll go gaga for this tune. Speaking, where is Lady GaGa? She would fit right in with the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. We'd love to have heard her trippy take on Alice.