In sum: Dreamgirls is a special surprise; Christian Bautista surprises; local recording industry is dying, to no one’s surprise

Last night, Cathy pulled a truly pleasant surprise on me. After I kept her waiting for an hour and a half after an all-day meeting I attended went into serious overtime, she met up with me in the evening with a gift bag sealed with tape.

“Open it,” she said gleefully.

I did, and discovered my wife purchased a (legit) copy of the soundtrack to Dreamgirls.

I have the best wife ever!

We listened to it on the way home, and the album is spectacular. Jennifer Hudson steals the show, naturally, with a natural flair and sass to accompany that God-given voice. Give the woman an Academy Award! She’s just phenomenal, especially on It’s All Over, And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, I Am Changing, and One Night Only.

Eddie Murphy is a revelation: we all knew he could sing, but come on, Murphy is Early Thunder, and his voice is completely different from his wisecracking Donkey days. Foxx and Knowles are reliably good, as are Sharon Leal and Loretta Devine.

On a related note, Cathy purchased for herself the new Christian Bautista album, Just a Love Song… Christian Bautista Live! Like his Warner labelmate before him, Nina, Bautista croons his way through 20-something ballads and the occasional mid-tempo track. Bautista’s voice has gotten more solid with experience, and he digs into the revivals with aplomb and style. Be sure to listen to his career-defining takes on the back-to-back tracks Blue Eyes Blue and Cry for Help.

The reality singing competition finalist – who has gone on to bigger things than 95% of all other finalists in all local televised singing competitions combined – proves himself the should’ve-been-winner with this album. He can sound just as good live as he does on his studio albums. He’s the Jennifer Hudson of local reality competitions.

What is the hitch on Just a Love Song…? Unfortunately, just like Nina, Warner Music gives us virtually all revivals. That’s right. The entire album is one gigantic hodge-podge of second-rate backburning hits from the 70s through 2006. Is Just a Love Song a revival? I’m not sure, but if it isn’t, well, are we supposed to rejoice for one breadcrumb of original music amidst an entire pie of rehashed hits?

I respect both artists, but must chastise Warner for not including a single song from these singers’ catalog of original music. This is what is killing the industry, from critical and financial standpoints – Philippine artists aren’t releasing originals anymore! Bakit puro revival?!

Ironically, Nina’s latest single, Someday, is not a revival, and it’s receiving massive amounts of airplay. How many people would kill to hear a live version of Someday?