The Space Jam soundtrack was released on November 12, 1996 for the film of the same name. The film was a live-action and animation hybrid that starred basketball player Michael Jordan and the cast of the Looney Tunes. The soundtrack ended up peaking on the Billboard 200 chart at number two.
The soundtrack opens with Seal’s cover version of the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle.” While Seal’s version may incorporate a little more of an electronic sound when compared to the original, this version still keeps the spirit and essence of the original intact. To me, it’s not only my favorite song on the soundtrack, but I think it’s the best song on it.
The next song on the Space Jam soundtrack is “The Winner” by Coolio. I can tell this song is using a sample, but I’m not placing where the sample is coming from. While the song is a rap song, the sampled music adds a smooth R&B sound to the mix. It’s an OK song, but overall, there’s really nothing to make this stand out.
This is followed by “Space Jam” by the Quad City DJ’s. Prior to this appearance, the only hit Quad City DJ’s had was “C’mon ‘N Ride It (The Train).” Stylistically, this song has a very similar sound to “C’mon ‘N Ride It (The Train),” and ultimately gave the public the impression that this group was a one-trick pony. Like the Coolio track, there’s really nothing here to make this song stand out.
Next is “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly. This was arguably one of the biggest pop hits off of this soundtrack. It has a more “gospel” sound to it, and it really does stand out, not only when compared to the other songs on the soundtrack, bur it also stood out when compared to the other R&B and rhythmic songs being released during that time period. “I Believe I Can Fly” is definitely one of the better songs on the soundtrack; however, I think that Seal’s contribution is a little stronger.
B Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man collaborated for the next song, “Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem).” As I listen to this song, it just feels like it’s plodding and not really going much of anywhere. Sadly, this was recorded several years before it became common for several rappers and singers to come together and record songs together, but it sounds very similar to these collaborations that we hear today.
Next is “I Found My Smile Again” by D’Angelo. Musically, this song plods and takes forever to get going. And when it finally does get going, there’s really nothing to make this song stand out on the soundtrack. Personally, I found this one to be rather boring.
This is followed by Monica’s “For You I Will,” which was another big pop ballad hit from this soundtrack. This is another song from this album I really enjoy, and it has a sound that makes it stand out from the other songs on the soundtrack. While it’s not quite as strong as the Seal song for me, I think it ranks a little higher than the R. Kelly song.
Salt-N-Pepa’s contribution, “Upside Down (Round-N-Round),” is the next song on the soundtrack. I tend to be more of a fan of Salt-N-Pepa’s material from the 1980s and the very early 1990s. However, they had a different style with 1993’s Very Necessary album, which doesn’t resonate with me as much. This song follows more in the style of the Very Necessary album, so I find I don’t like it as much. It also features an “interpolation” of Diana Ross’ “Upside Down.” Even with this recognizable sample, there really isn’t much here to make this stand out from most of the other songs on the soundtrack.
Robin S. is next with “Givin’ U All That I’ve Got.” Her only real major hit prior to this song was “Show Me Love” in 1993. Stylistically, this song uses a similar bassline and the heavier sound to the bass that was used in “Show Me Love.” While this song does stand out compared to the other songs on the album, it really doesn’t stand out when compared to the songs she had released prior to this.
Barry White and Chris Rock teamed up for the song “Basketball Jones.” Unfortunately, Barry White’s low register and Chris Rock’s high-pitched talking/screaming really don’t complement each other. Personally, I think this song sounds like a mess, and is one of the worst tracks on the album.
All-4-One contributed “I Turn to You,” a Diane Warren-penned track, to this album. Three years after this soundtrack was released, Christina Aguilera would record this same song for her debut album, and she scored a decent pop hit with it. By knowing the Christina Aguilera recording before hearing this one, it weakens the sound of this recording for me. While Christina’s recording has a soulful and heartfelt sound to it, this All-4-One recording just sounds flat and generic.
“All Of My Days” is a song by R. Kelly, Changing Faces, and Jay-Z. Personally, I thought the only redeeming portion of this song is the contribution by Changing Faces. Other than that, I thought it was rather generic sounding.
The Spin Doctors teamed up with Biz Markie for a cover version of KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s The Way (I Like It).” Personally, I have heard better covers of this song. Even with that said, it’s one of the few songs to stand out on this soundtrack.
The final track is labeled as “Buggin’” by Bugs Bunny; however, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd also make appearances. In this song, the characters attempt to rap. While this song does stand out, it’s not in a good way. This is definitely the worst song on the soundtrack.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of R&B and rhythmic music, so it’s not surprising that I found a lot of this to sound rather generic and boring. However, for listeners who enjoy this kind of music, they may find much more enjoyment out of it than I do.
I wrote this review after listening to a copy of the Space Jam soundtrack that my husband and I purchased.