The soundtrack for the recent film Rock of Ages, based on the 2009 Tony-nominated Broadway musical, has received unenthusiastic reviews. The recording features Malin Akerman, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Tom Cruise, Paul Giamatti, Julianne Hough, Constantine Maroulis, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Andy Propst (Theater Mania): There’s enough personality and panache on the recording to warrant a listen. The vocalist most people will want to know about is Tom Cruise. … He acquits himself decently on a couple of his tracks, notably “Paradise City” (which plays just as the film opens) and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” … It’s unfortunate that Cruise isn’t as persuasive or as effective elsewhere. … Of the other A-list cast that’s been assembled for the film, Tony Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones … delivers a couple of numbers with sultry gusto, including “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and it should come as no surprise that Blige’s work throughout is remarkable. Perhaps the most unique (and curiously satisfying) turn on the album comes from the mercurial and exceedingly charismatic Russell Brand.
Judy Rosen (Rolling Stone): Want to hear Tom Cruise sing “Paradise City”? How about Catherine Zeta-Jones mauling Pat Benatar’s greatest hit? The film version of the musical is mild kitsch-karaoke fun; the real takeaway is how great the 1980s originals were.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine (All Music): A silver screen adaptation of a Broadway show that turned MTV metal into a musical, the original soundtrack to Rock of Ages can’t help but feel like a faded photocopy, but somebody has taken great care to dress those smeared, blurry images in glitter and highlights, the sparkle deriving from a star-studded cast fronted by Tom Cruise. That Tom Cruise has never, ever seemed to connect with rock & roll, particularly of the gutbucket L.A. sleaze variety celebrated here, matters not because Rock of Ages is not for rock & rollers, it’s for any number of people who like to dress up and play pretend. Now that the glory days of Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and Poison are firmly in the past – and thereby no longer carry any sense of sexual danger – it’s totally fine to drape a feather boa around your neck, darken your eyes, harden your heart, and sing along with the songs you know by heart. On film or on stage it might be easy to get wrapped up in the spectacle, but on record, it’s mere nostalgia.