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Into the Woods:Original Soundtrack
By Caitlin Gallogly, 16, Eagle Rock HS

Listen up, all you rap and pop junkies. Here’s something new: Stephen Sondheim‘s Into the Woods is one of the best musicals out there. It’s an amazingly funny play about fairy tales, wishes and how they don’t always turn out the way one expects. For instance, there’s one great scene where the Prince keeps Cinderella from running away by spreading pitch on the palace steps. Cinderella gets stuck in the tarry mess, but instead of becoming angry, she expresses her admiration for the Prince’s forethought and planning. Then, being a compulsive cleaner, she begins wondering just how long it will take to clean up the stairs. It’s so ridiculous, it’s entertaining.

In this play, all of our favorite fairy tales get mixed up. Frustrated with Cinderella’s constant need to clean, the Prince sleeps with the Baker’s Wife and runs off with Sleeping Beauty. Rapunzel goes completely mad and gets stepped on by the Giant’s Wife, at which point, her Prince runs off with Snow White. Red Riding Hood succumbs to extreme paranoia and begins to attack people with a butcher’s knife. Still, there is a surprisingly uplifting spirit and you can’t help but be amused. It is truly a magical experience, one that everyone should enjoy.

Jack Johnson: Brushfire Fairytales
By Guianna Henriquez, 16, Marlborough School

I find myself swaying to the beat every time I hear the gentle tones of Jack Johnson‘s music. The melodic drums, percussion and bass all fit together beautifully in the 13 songs he wrote for Brushfire Fairytales. Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Johnson would have been a professional surfer but a near-fatal accident convinced him to study film instead. Now he’s a filmmaker, surfer, artist and musician. He tends to just "go with the flow," which explains why his songs are so soothing.

Aside from the popular "Flake," which deals with a letdown in a relationship, Johnson has some refreshing original work like "Inaudible Melodies," which is full of contradictions like "shortcuts that can slow you down" and "silent films are full of sound." "The News," one of my favorites, is Jack’s critique of the cold and unfeeling way TV newscasters deliver their stories.

Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself listening to similar sounds and rhythms in various songs, because he recycles his music (though not his lyrics). If you’re looking for the kind of music that can relax you during endless homework hours, or if you want to hear something new and original, Brushfire Fairytales will be worth the price.