A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an album of melancholy Tom Waits classics that often times deals with some pretty heavy issues, like alcoholism, abuse, and disillusionment. Mature topics are never taken lightly and subject matter that is often glamorized by pop culture, such as drinking, is explored in a more pessimistic and complex fashion. Johansson's vocals contribute the depressing tone on the album and although the content is straightforward and there's nothing really inappropriate for teens, this is definitely not a feel-good or pick-me-up collection.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Scarlet Johansson is a major fan of the moody and sardonic American icon Tom Waits, with his incomparable growling vocals and poetic songwriting. Many have covered his music before (Rod Stewart singing \"Downtown Train,\" Bruce Springsteen covering \"Jersey Girl\"). Johansson takes 10 of Waits' lesser known songs and joins them together with her vocal treatment and the production power of Dave Sitek from the group TV on the Radio. Johansson wrote one original track, \"Song for Jo,\" and David Bowie accompanies her on two songs.
Is it any good?
If you start off with quality poetic lyrics, an album's sure to be a success, right? Well, covering songs by one of the greats of American songwriting, Tom Waits can be tricky business and it seems that ScarJo might be well over her head. When an artist covers another the assumption is that the new covers will reinvent -- or at least recapture -- the spirit of the songs. Unfortunately, Johansson's treatment is bogged down by over-production to the point where she's almost lost in the techno accompaniment. It's easy to jump on the Johansson-bashing bandwagon; nearly every critic has dissed the album, but there's an atmosphere to a few of the tracks that will linger with the listener, such as the moody title track or the hauntingly poppy "I Don't Wanna Grow Up." But the languishing vibe of the album never changes, and as a whole, listeners will probably feel like they are stuck in a monotonous fog of dreary vocals.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Johansson decided to make this album. She has received much criticism for her inexperienced skills as a musician and vocalist. Why do you think she was given the opportunity to make an entire album? Do you think a bad album will hurt her acting career or provide her with more publicity? Would the album receive the same amount of press if a movie star wasn't singing?