Curious George? I submit that there is not (unless Pete Doherty is drafted to write the soundtrack to A Million Little Pieces)—Johnson’s laidback acoustic pop is perfectly suited to the sweet innocence of H.A. Rey’s timeless classic. Sing-A-Longs And Lullabies For The Film Curious George is 13 songs written for and inspired by the new animated flick—Johnson even throws in a surprisingly effective cover of The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends.” I’m a big fan of a current trend in animated films ostensibly geared toward kids: hiring hip indie and critically acclaimed mainstream types to populate the soundtracks—Ben Folds’s contribution to
Hoodwinked, for example, is the only thing of worth I remember about that wretched experience. When the pairing results in something as effervescent as Curious George, you can’t help but applaud forward-thinking music supervisors everywhere. From the opening notes of “Upside Down,” you’ll likely have a big grin plastered on your face as Johnson’s amiable campfire demeanor is in full effect. Joined here by his band (Adam Topol, Merlo Podlewski, and Zach Gill) as well as Ben Harper, Matt Costa, and G. Love, Johnson was, according to press materials, “faced with the task of giving a voice to a central character that does not speak.” His delicate compositions (Harper, Costa, and G. Love also contributed) certainly succeed in giving Curious George a “voice”; there’s a childlike wonder to each song that feels completely effortless. Even those who don’t dig on “kid’s flicks” will delight in this dose of summertime. But the thought of a world where there’s a Curious George film with no contributions from Jack Johnson? That’s bananas.