All those people who have delighted in chanting "Russell Crowe cannae sing" since Les Miserables had its cinema release are missing the point.
Director Tom Hooper's bold decision to capture the vocals live, not through pre-recorded playback, has put acting back into musical performance. In my opinion, Crowe conveys the obsessive mood of a typical Victor Hugo villain rather well.
Here lyrics are delivered as in-the-moment dialogue, not as a secondary element in quasi-operatic showstoppers designed to be heard at the back of the stalls. The best example of this is the most prominent: Anne Hathaway breathes meaning back into I Dreamed A Dream, a song which has in recent years been in danger of having any sense of dramatic purpose pummelled out of it. Hers is the sound of a spurned woman, a struggling single mother, not a reality show phenomenon.
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The end result of this approach is an album that gains in immediate raw emotion what it loses in pure musicality. It's a half-decent souvenir of a cinema experience that, to some ears, is all the better for avoiding the bombastic melodrama of the stage recordings.