One of the most controversial, well okay, the most controversial CD I have in my collection is a 2002 release, The Vienna Boys Choir Goes Pop. I first learned of it when I saw three of the songs on another CD, Les Plus Belles Chorales D’Enfants, which is a great compilation album of lots of great choirs.
The three songs there were My Heart Will Go On, All You Need Is Love, and Eternal Flame. I liked all three and thought they were much better than the originals. I would rather listen to WSK than Celine Dion any day.
Other songs on the CD are perhaps less… wisely chosen. I’ve made no secret of my admiration for the Vienna Boys Choir, but I wasn’t anxious to hear them cover Talking Heads with Burning Down the House or Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters. Actually, I kind of liked the soloist’s voice on the Metallica song. Their covers of Enya and The Police were pretty good, too.
If there is any disappointment in this CD it can’t be blamed on the boys, but is solely the responsibility of the director who chose the songs. I’m not saying that I didn’t like it, but a lot of people criticized it. Try to imagine WSK covering Prince, Madonna, Back Street Boys or Earth, Wind and Fire.
To make sure that it wasn’t just my opinion I went to Amazon.com to read some of the reviews there. They seemed to be one extreme or the other, one star or five stars. Here’s some comments:
“How Sad”, “Not their style”, “What horrid crap!”, “Perhaps the greatest gag gift ever”, “The worst CD ever”, “Are you people deaf?”
Those were one star comments, but several people praised it instead. They said, “Better with each listening”, “Wow!”, “I think it’s great”, “… It grows on you”.
There are a couple of comments from the boys themselves on the inside of the CD.
Matthias said, “I liked the project. It was fun to sing songs which you usually hear on the radio or on MTV.”
Josef said, “We weren’t sure initially how some of the songs that we normally just like to listen to would sound sung by us - but the result is pretty cool.”
The Vienna Boys Choir is very versatile and I think it’s fun to see them branching out and experimenting.