The Commitments Theatrical singing is about diction; soul music is about words sung so passionately it doesn't matter if you can understand them. The Commitments might have… The Commitments Theatrical singing is about diction; soul music is about words sung so passionately it doesn't matter if you can understand them. The Commitments might have… Robert Arkins Maria Doyle Andrew Strong Rock Soundtracks
Music Review

The Commitments (1991)

EW's GRADE
D-

Details Lead Performances: Robert Arkins, Maria Doyle and Andrew Strong; Genres: Rock, Soundtracks

Theatrical singing is about diction; soul music is about words sung so passionately it doesn't matter if you can understand them. The Commitments might have been able to distract you with dialogue and motion on-screen, but without the visuals, their essential hollowness overwhelms all other considerations. Maria Doyle sort of copes with the teen-pop breathiness of Mary Wells' ''Bye Bye Baby,'' but asking her to dig into the deep soul of Aretha's ''I Never Loved a Man'' is one of the stupidest wastes of human energy since the Charge of the Light Brigade. And the male vocals are totally hopeless — when Robert Arkins reaches for falsetto shrieks at the end of ''Slip Away,'' he sounds like a rabbit with a punctured lung, and Andrew Strong's most credible moment is proving that ''call me Mr. Pitiful'' can be a god-awful pun. But I suppose The Commitments — whose album leapt into Billboard's top 10 — will content the growing number of people who prefer the hollow excesses of Michael Bolton to the genuine soulfulness of, say, Ray Charles. D-

Originally posted Oct 18, 1991 Published in issue #88 Oct 18, 1991 Order article reprints