Music Review:Rita Wilson

Jennifer Suh

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From “White and Purple” to “Hollywood,” many Northwestern students are familiar with the ubiquitous Chet Haze, also known as Communication junior Chester Hanks. However, there’s another aspiring musician in his family: his mother. Last Tuesday, Rita Wilson released her first studio album, AM/FM. On her YouTube channel, Wilson says this album is based on her first memories of listening to music on the radio, when there were only AM stations. The album features her covers of ’60s and ’70s classics and big name musicians like Chris Cornell, Sheryl Crow and Faith Hill. “Angel of the Morning,” one of the tracks on AM/FM, is one of the most frequently re-recorded songs since its first release in 1981. Wilson’s version is different from those of other female vocalists, such as Merrilee Rush, Juice Newton, Nina Simone or Chrissie Hynde. Although Wilson hasn’t performed the song live yet, in both the album version and the music video her vocal performance is clean and simple without much gimmick. It is unclear whether this song can be a hit again in 2012, but Wilson’s vocals and minimal instrumentals make it a decent adult/contemporary pop track that is good for easy listening. Wilson also covered the Supremes’ “Come See About Me,” which was a Billboard chart-topping single in 1964. The tempo of this track is slower than the original version, and Wilson’s consistently simplistic vocals are rather different from that of Diana Ross. The ’60s instrumentals that may sound old-fashioned are now replaced with piano and drums, allowing it to better fit with the rest of Wilson’s album. Another one of the classics that Wilson chose to cover was once simultaneously ranked No. 1 on all Billboard charts in 1958. In Wilson’s cover of “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” Seattle-based rock band Soundgarden’s lead vocalist, Cornell, sings the background vocals. Because it is a duet of female and male vocals with a much slower tempo, Wilson’s version has a different feel from the duet that was popularized by the Everly Brothers. For a professional actress and producer, Wilson has a good voice. But, she does not vary her tone or style, making the songs sound very similar to each other. Nevertheless, by compiling songs that are familiar to people of all ages, Wilson successfully portrays the sentiment that merges the AM and FM generations. -Jennifer Suh