BEVERLY HILLS, California — Everyone’s talking about Beyoncé’s forthcoming B’Day LP, but the singer’s also got something in store for Christmas.
A few months after the release of her second solo album on September 5 (the day after her 25th birthday), Beyoncé will return to music stores as the centerpiece of the soundtrack to the Bill Condon-directed film adaptation of the Broadway show “Dreamgirls,” due in theaters December 25 (see “Beyoncé’s Triple Threat: New Album, Film, Fashion Line Before Year’s End” ).
The soundtrack’s first single, in fact, will be a Beyoncé track called “Listen” that is one of four new songs written for the movie and not featured in the original musical (several online retailers also say the song will be one of three unlisted bonus tracks on B’Day). She plays Deena Jones in the film, the breakout leader of an all-girl singing group that’s suddenly catapulted into stardom after crafty manager Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) lands them a spot working with Eddie Murphy’s James “Thunder” Early (see “Beyonce Slimming Down And ‘Completely Becoming Deena’ “ ).
“It’s a ballad, it’s got a big orchestra, so it’s totally different for her and for the radio and MTV and everybody — it’s gonna be exciting,” said Harvey Mason Jr. of production duo the Underdogs (Omarion, Mario, JoJo), who spent six months producing the soundtrack. “That’s gonna be a big, big record.”
The album’s track list is still being finalized, but Mason said the Underdogs recorded more than 50 songs for the movie. “It’s got most of the stuff from the Broadway play, and we reinterpreted some of that,” Mason said. “And then some small pieces of new stuff in between. We saw a screening of it last week and it’s going to be an amazing movie.”
Another one of the new songs, “Love You I Do,” is a solo tune from former “American Idol” finalist Jennifer Hudson, who plays the group’s ousted lead vocalist, Effie White (see Jennifer Hudson’s ‘Dream’ Is Reality: R&B Album, Starring With Beyonce, Jamie Foxx” ).
“It’s a big debut for her,” Mason said of her overall performance. “She sings the toughest song, ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ — everybody knows the song, and she nailed it. She really, really nailed it.”
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Mason and partner Damon Thomas also had rave reviews for Foxx and, more surprisingly, Murphy, who has not been heard singing since his failed 1985 R&B album How Could It Be.
“He’s singing, he’s dancing, he’s doing the splits — it’s hilarious,” Mason said. “Good stuff.”
Along with working on the “Dreamgirls” music, the Underdogs have been in the studio recently with Fantasia (working on a duet with Aretha Franklin), Tyrese, Ruben Studdard and Marques Houston. The team has also finished five songs for Omarion’s next album.
“He’s always been really, really creative and has really great energy, but I think vocally, he’s really gotten a lot stronger,” Mason said of Omarion. “And with his experiences, he’s a veteran now, and I think he knows what he wants style-wise, and what he wants to talk about, and I think it might be a little more personal this time.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Dreamgirls.”
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