REVIEW: R&H Goes Pop

These new interpretations of classic Rodgers & Hammerstein songs allows the listener to re-examine them in a clever way.

Some might find that adding a different and more contemporary approach to Rodgers and Hammerstein songs might seem like a sacrilege – but actually in the right hands it can really work as certainly proven on this latest celebration of the composer’s works.

The album gets off to a bold and confident start with Jeremy Jordan’s fabulous rendition of ‘Oh What A Beautiful Mornin” that while maintaining the simple melody of the original, adds an extra dynamic with a brilliant arrangement that keeps it recognisable but with a modern twist. This in turn means that the lyrics take on a whole new meaning and showcase the quality of the songwriting in a unique way.

It is certainly a record that is filled with unexpected surprises with Katrina Lenk’s rendition of ‘Something Good’ proving to be surprisingly reflective, while Ali Stroker’s playful and contemporary style towards ‘The Surrey With the Fringe on Top’ is also a real highlight.

However, there are a couple of numbers that don’t feel as though they work with a particular arrangement such as Ariana DeBose’s version of ‘Shall We Dance’ which although has a nice rhythm to it that works well in contrast with the original, it still feels as though it is slightly over the top and the lyrics are slightly lost. Meanwhile, ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ performed by Ryan McCartan feels as though it has had some of the personality of the song out of it.

But for the most part the album succeeds the most when it doesn’t try too hard to stand out as can be heard through Gavin Creel’s gorgeous performance of ‘Something Wonderful’ and Ashley Park’s cool and sophisticated version of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ – which is certainly two tracks that I will be playing on repeat. Elsewhere, Matt Doyle and Jelani Alladin’s beautiful duet of ‘We Kiss in a Shadow’ is beautifully performed that makes it worth a listen or two.

As a whole, R&H Goes Pop is a wonderfully diverse album that shows how the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein can be reimagined for a contemporary audience in a creative way that ensures that the songs don’t lose their meaning but allows you to reinterpret their meaning. Worth a listen for any musical theatre fan.

By Emma Clarendon

R&H Goes Pop is available to buy and download now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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