Where would you find Stereophonics, Third Eye Blind, Ziggy Marley, the Flaming Lips, and Love Spit Love (covering the Smiths, no less) all in one place? Why, a WB TV program soundtrack, silly. The good news is that the somewhat predictable Private Music, the soundtrack from the chick-witch program “Charmed,” doesn’t altogether suck. The 11 diverse tracks are atmospherically appropriate to a program about three witch sisters and, though the compilation is basically derivative, it doesn’t feel as contrived as it should. Taken apart from the program that spawned it, Private Music, very much a belly-baring girl power collection, could be a mix-tape put together by your trendy 12-year-old sister.
Opening with Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind, the first two tracks are standard-issue product from either band. But Goldfrapp’s “Strict Machine” brings things to a more intriguing level. A mash-up of Donovan and Blondie, the tune has an underlying, drug-fueled D&B air and segues nicely into the Stereophonics’ deliciously atmospheric “Maybe Tomorrow.” Vanessa Carlton’s mild-mannered Alainis empower-me-please plea “Rinse” is overwrought and will no doubt accompany a witch in the shower scene on the program.
The Andy Stochansky contribution, “I Can’t Take it Anymore,” is John Mayer channeled through Matthew Sweet and more along the lines of what would be expected from a tween show, as is “Worn me Down,” Rachel Yamagata’s over-produced Bono-in-drag offering. The Flaming Lips’ eerily seductive “Do You Realize,” from the band’s recent Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, is an unexpected injection of Lips weirdness that somehow is true to both the soundtrack and the show’s subject matter. Balligomingo’s “New Favorite Thing,” fronted by Lucy Woodward, is an unsubtle but engaging reminder that this music comes from a Spelling-produced program. Ziggy Marley’s refreshing reggae track, “Rainbow in the Sky,” spiced up with the backing of Chili Peppers Flea and John Frusciante, has a charming sing-along chorus and delights melodically and lyrically. Love Spit Love’s dead-on cover of “How Soon is Now” serves as the program’s theme song and offers up the PC notion that witches are people too (“I am human and I need to be loved”).
There is a lot to be said for a collection of contemporary tunes aimed at the nine-to-19 demographic that gets beyond the typical Now That’s What I Call Music rehash and opens up new ears to some excellent artists. Many of these tunes could stand alone. Although they work well together as inoffensive and diverse background music, Private Music as a whole doesn’t cast a spell.