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Music Review: Precious, Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The movie Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is difficult yet inspiring to watch. Precious is a teenager who is humiliated and degraded at the hands of the people who should have protected her: her parents (especially her mother). Needless to say, Precious doesn’t feel too good about herself, and understandably has a difficult time seeing that she is still a noble human being, despite everything that has happened to her.

The movie follows her path towards the realization that although her parents do anything but parent her, it doesn’t mean she didn’t deserve to have a good life. Rather, she was denied that opportunity.

Some scenes were downright nauseating, while others were incredibly touching. So when the requisite soundtrack was released, I was curious to find out what direction the producers would choose to take. Would they choose to convey the same combination of horror and inspiration? Or would they enhance the inspirational side of movie, something the right music can easily do?

It became clear, not even halfway throughout my first listen of the album, that the producers had chosen the latter direction. The soundtrack to Precious, based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is a great companion to the movie, not only in that it compiles some of the movie’s best tracks, but mostly because the tracks chosen are uplifting and inspiring while touching on the topics covered in the movie. As such, the soundtrack reminds the listener of these topics while negating any dark emotions leftover from seeing the movie, thus refusing to disempower anyone under the weight of despair. And in a world where despair abounds, this combination is all the more, well, precious.

Having hope doesn’t mean ignoring nor denying what is happening in one’s life, but rather choosing to see things in a positive light. Thus the soundtrack’s opening song, Mary J Blige’s “I Can See in Colour”, perfectly sets the mood. While the lyrics are poignant (“It took a long time to get to this place / And now that I’m here, no one can ever erase / The joy that I feel way down deep inside […] I’m anxious to know where the rest of this road will go […] And for the very, very first time I can see / I can see in color”) it is Mary’s voice, combined with the emotions of the years of turmoil she has lived through that lend the song a unique touch and depth.

The theme of hope has been explored on the soundtrack with some classic songs that combine hope with that of nostalgia, including Mahalia Jackson’s recording of the gospel song “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”, MFBS’s “Love is the Message” and Grace Hightower’s “Something’s Comin’ My Way”.

Some songs are inspiring and, at the same time, energizing, giving Precious in the movie and listeners a boost of much needed energy for when things are getting a little too much. One such song in particular that stood out to me is the blues song “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking” by Sunny Gale.

And some of the songs are just about plain fun, such as Donna Allen’s “He is the Joy” and Queen Latifah’s “Come Into My House”.

The best part of the soundtrack to Precious, based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is that there is no anger in it. This in itself is a powerful message, as hope and forgiveness go hand in hand and nowhere in the mix does anger have its place. The soundtrack could easily have slipped into well justified anger, and there are countless hip hop songs that convey that emotion. It’s also quite probable that a couple songs by of big names in the industry would have helped with the promotion of both the movie and the soundtrack. However I’m really happy that this easy way out wasn’t taken, and both the movie and its soundtrack are able to shine on their own worth.

Because of the mix of choice classics, this soundtrack is a great addition to any library, even if you haven’t seen nor liked the movie. And if you have seen the movie and, unfortunately, are able to relate to Precious, then this soundtrack will help you get through it.

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