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Original cast recording for “Spongebob Squarepants: The New Musical”

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The cast recording of the world premiere of “SpongeBob Squarepants: The New Musical” was released on Sept. 22 and features songs written by beloved artists such as Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Panic! At the Disco and John Legend.

Although one would expect these musicians to provide quality tracks, at times the songs felt odd in the context of the show or just flopped altogether. For example, David Bowie’s contribution, “No Control,” sounded brash and awkward when heard after the fun “Bikini Bottom Day,” Also, rapper T.I.’s song, “When the Going Gets Tough,” which features a rap battle between Plankton and Spongebob, listens like a botched way to include Plankton in the album.

With ukuleles and a bouncy rhythm, “Bikini Bottom Day” opens the show and introduces all our favorite characters. The lyrics are as silly and fun as the dialogue all college students love from the TV show and resembles most closely the music used in the cartoon.

However, the opening number also introduces the listener to some of the horrible character voices used by a few of the actors. Ethan Slater (SpongeBob) does not have the annoying, high-pitched voice of the animated character—although the listener should forgive this as using that voice for every performance is detrimental to vocal health.

The actors playing Mr. Krabs and Patrick have no such excuse. Danny Skinner uses the characteristic slow, almost stoned-sounding voice of Patrick very briefly in the album and Patrick just was not the same. I could not even tell that Carlos Lopez was in the role of Mr. Krabs until the very end of his first verse when he crudely attempted his signature choppy laugh.

The biggest exception to the horribly-attempted accents was the voice of Lilli Cooper. Cooper’s Sandy Cheeks still has the country twang but, unlike her coworkers, Cooper does not attempt to sound exactly like the original character. Instead, she brings out Sandy’s strength and enthusiastic attitude through her belting solos.

 

Gavin Lee, who plays Squidward, portrays Squidward as the socially awkward, pessimistic character he is also without sounding like he is attempting to mimic the cartoon. His Squidward sounds more snooty than nasal but still stays true to the character.

The album has some truly beautiful moments such as John Legend’s original song, “(I Guess I) Miss You” sung by SpongeBob and Patrick. With a sweeping piano accompaniment characteristic of Legend’s music, the song reflects on their friendship.

With the exception of the rap song, the variety of musical styles used gives the album a quirky quality that mimics the oddness of the characters. From Cyndi Lauper’s “Kinky Boots”-sounding “Hero Is My Middle Name” to Lady Antebellum’s country “Chop to the Top,” the album takes the listener through all types of music.

The reader may be wondering, “Did the theme song ever turn up?” Unfortunately, it did as only the last number which I assume is used during the production for the performers’ bows and does not include the bellowing “ooooooh” known by Spongebob fans.

However, Patchy the Pirate, who sings the theme song in the series, did show up in “Poor Pirates” by Sara Bareilles. Patchy is not involved in the plot or any other song but in the television series Patchy did appear at random times in the show with no connection to the Bikini Bottom happenings, so maybe the musical is aiming for the same idea here.

“SpongeBob Squarepants: The New Musical” is worth a listen, even if it does not belong amongst the musical soundtracks of the greats. Let the French Narrator take you under the sea to Bikini Bottom, where an album of fun awaits.

 

Album: “Spongebob Squarepants: A New Musical”

Artist: Original Chicago Cast and Music Supervisor Tom Kitt

Release: Sept. 22

Rating: 2.5/5

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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source
Our favorite sponge sings his way into our hearts