“Now I find myself here, and it’s time”
It may be heresy to admit it but have to say I love the updated 2014 film version of Annie. Having never seen it on stage before, I was hesitant to say the least about watching the movie but for me, it works beautifully and most importantly, completely reimagines the classic score in the most contemporary of ways. Sia and Greg Kurstin have to take credit for that and without any affection for the original – which I suspect may have coloured much of the critical response – I think it’s a great soundtrack to listen to.
Old songs have been rearranged to within an inch of their life, new lyrics added and a wildly different sonic world created but it is one which suits this ultra-modern Annie down to the ground and manages it in a finger-clicking, hip-swaying way. Constantly treading the line of sentimentality – and with songs like ‘Tomorrow’ how could it not – there’s just enough street cred to keep it from tipping over. So the directness of Quvenzhané Wallis’s unaffected vocal in the iconic ‘Tomorrow’ is refreshingly clear-eyed rather than cloying, and gorgeous harmonies deepen the emotion of ‘Maybe’.
‘I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here’, ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’ and ‘Little Girls’ each blossom under radically new arrangements, the first being my undoubted favourite of the whole album (yes, yes!) and of the new songs, ‘Opportunity’ is the most Sia-like in its power balladry, ‘Who Am I’ is nicely heartfelt, and ‘Moonquake Lake’ is suitably to make the most of its Beck featured appearance. I can’t imagine fans of the original taking to this redone version too easily but equally, having fallen in love with this, I feel less inclined than ever to see a traditional stage version.