"Rock of Ages" is nothing but a good time. Not that you'd expect anything less from a film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical about a small town girl (played onscreen by Julianne Hough), a city boy (Diego Boneta) and the denizens of The Bourbon Room, a Sunset Strip club that rock icon Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) calls home on many occasions.
"I really only went on set for Tom's performances," executive music producer Adam Anders told HuffPost Entertainment about the Adam Shankman film. "He wanted me there whenever he did his songs. Other than that, I was buried in the studio. I was working on the music night and day."
It shows. Featuring 20 tracks, five of them mashups, the "Rock of Ages" soundtrack reinvigorates your favorites '80s hits and simultaneously turns Cruise into juke box hero. Anders -- who previously worked his music-producing magic on "Glee," selling over 70 million albums to date -- gave HuffPost Entertainment a track-by-track breakdown of the "Rock of Ages" album, which also features show-stopping contributions from Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Mary J. Blige and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
1. "Paradise City" - Tom Cruise
That was a ball buster. We spent two days doing that -- it was just brutal. It was a tough song for Axl Rose, and he's a phenomenally advanced singer. Tom just did a fantastic job. It's a cool way to open the movie; to make a statement: this is a rock movie and Tom is going to blow you away. His voice is really a special voice. It can really hit those notes and do a lot of different things that most people can't. We decided, "We're not going to make you just sound passable." I felt that we could make him sound like a rock star and we accomplished it. That was the last thing we recorded and it was the hardest thing we recorded.
2. "Sister Christian" / "Just Like Paradise" / "Nothing But A Good Time" - Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin
[In the film, Sherie (Hough) is joined during the song by passengers on a crowded, Los Angeles-bound bus.] It was very difficult to make that sound good and also make you believe people are singing on the bus. It's such a small little section, but we were pulling our hair out to get that one right. That's a long piece of music. It's a challenging opening. It's an awesome way to open the film -- a relentless musical barrage.
3. "Juke Box Hero / I Love Rock 'n' Roll" - Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin
We did "Juke Box Hero" first, and then decided to add "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" to it, and that is not the way to do a mashup. I think it came down to that they had Sherie and Drew (Boneta) together, and for the first time you see this spark between Dennis and Lonnie (Baldwin and Brand). It's pretty funny how they both end up almost kissing. I think they wanted to be able to cut away and go to this other place, so they threw that song in. "All right, we'll make it work." [Laughs]
4. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" - Catherine Zeta-Jones
I love Catherine. She was my first crush and it hasn't gone away. It got worse working with her. Unbelievable movie star, and that moment is just amazing. I think the choreography is absolutely hysterical.
5. "Waiting For A Girl Like You" - Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta
It's a fantastic song, obviously. But I think it's really great how it starts out comedic, ends up romantic at the end, and then we tied it into the score. Then it comes back again for their first kiss. There was a lot of that stuff. The score really works well with the songs -- we did the score too -- a lot of these songs are [originally] three or four minutes and they became nine-minute songs. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun.
6. "More Than Words" / "Heaven" - Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta
That's the first demo we did for the movie, before it was greenlit. We decided those two songs worked really well together. That was gonna be part of our demo package. The studio loved it so much.
7. "Wanted Dead Or Alive" - Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough
It was the first song we did with Tom. It was supposed to be just a test to let him go in and get used to the studio. He ended up doing great and we kept it. That was a great start -- it gave him a lot of confidence and gave me more sleep at night. [Laughs]
8. "I Want To Know What Love Is" - Tom Cruise, Malin Akerman
[During the performance, Akerman's character engages in wild sexual foreplay with Cruise's Jaxx.] I put a belt in Malin's mouth. Literally put a belt in her mouth. "Chew on this, start singing." We definitely acted out their part of the scene, and we actually went back and re-did stuff after they shot it. We felt we could make it more true to the moment.
9. "I Wanna Rock" - Diego Boneta
Diego's performance of it was fantastic. You felt like he deserved to be up there, as a rock star. That was huge. With both him and Stacee, you needed to feel that these guys are legit.
10. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" - Tom Cruise
[Unlike the stage version of "Rock of Ages," the film adaptation was able to obtain the rights to Def Leppard songs.] Part of it was the script. They realized we weren't making fun of them; we were honoring them. Then they heard the demos and loved them. Def Leppard actually came on the set when we were shooting this and were blown away. That, to me, is the nucleus of the film: that performance. Musically, it's the core of what we were trying to do. It's an incredible moment. I've seen it so many times, and I get goosebumps every time. To me it totally establishes that Stacee Jaxx is the stuff. "Dead or Alive" is awesome, but this is different.
Tom and I worked together for about three months before we recorded the record. I'd go to his house -- he had a vocal coach who was training the actual muscle of his voice and getting him in shape as a singer. Then I would come in and teach him how to sing rock and teach him the songs. We'd find the voice together -- we'd sing it different ways. "That sound you just made, don't ever do that again; that other sound you made, that's great." Sometimes somebody trying to sound like Axl Rose can be the most annoying thing in the world. We wanted Tom to sound like Tom.
11. "Harden My Heart" - Julianne Hough, Mary J. Blige
12. "Shadows of the Night" / "Harden My Heart - Julianne Hough, Mary J. Blige
Mary J. has a warmer, lower, fuller tone. Julianne has a brighter soprano voice. I think they're a very nice combination. That mashup exists in the musical, but we did it differently. We worked out a version that suited Mary J. and also the moment. It starts softer and is more of a ballad.
13. "Here I Go Again" - Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Paul Giamatti, Mary J. Blige, Tom Cruise
This, more than anything, moves the story forward in an incredible way. The writers did an amazing job of weaving that in. Every song really has reason for being there. That's what makes the movie go by fast. I think that's a classic example of how you should use music in a musical.
14. "Can't Fight This Feeling" - Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin
Comedy-wise, that is the pinnacle of the movie. It was in the Broadway show, too. One of the funniest moments of my career was watching Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand perform that in the studio together. They sang it to each other. I have video of them singing between the two booths. They were full-on doing it. The key with Alec is to keep him in the studio. He likes to do a take and we're halfway through the song, and he's singing, and he takes his headphones off and walks away. [Laughs] You know what? I'm fine with these guys -- especially like Alec Baldwin. There's so much talent there as an actor and a performer and they have musical chops. He's done scenes on "Saturday Night Live" with music, and it's there. Alec just totally embraced it.
15. "Any Way You Want It" - Mary J. Blige, Julianne Hough
We added a lot of moments to the song. We went back and kept adding sections to that song as the choreography developed. The whispering section toward the end that builds and builds before Sherie comes on stage, that was all added on.
16. "Undercover Love" - Diego Boneta
[This is a fake song that Anders wrote for Boneta's Drew to sing.] It's supposed to be like New Kids on the Block from hell. My first hit was with a boy band. I'm an expert. So I know how to write a bad boy band song. That would have been a hit in the boy band era. The lyrics are just terrible. [Laughs]
17. "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" - Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige
That arrangement is beautiful. Getting everybody in and Tom there at the end is killer. That's one of my favorite moments. It's very emotional in the film.
18. "Rock You Like A Hurricane" - Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise
[Unfortunately, "Rock You Like a Hurricane" doesn't appear in the film.] That'll be on the DVD. It's Scorpions. You can't lose with the Scorpions.
19. "We Built This City" / "We're Not Gonna Take It" - Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones
This mashup was Adam Shankman's idea. "Will this work?" Not only will it work! A lot of times when you make a mashup, you take two great songs and ruin them both. Not in this case. It works really well.
20. "Don't Stop Believin' - Cast
"Don't Stop Believin'" was part of "Rock of Ages" before "Glee," but "Glee" was so massive I had to figure out a way to recreate it again. To do it totally different from "Glee." That was ... challenging. It's a great version. I wanted it to feel more cinematic. The strings drove it more than the piano. We made it more of duet than even the "Glee" version. I've now put a clause in my contract where I can produce any song for you, except "Don't Stop Believin.'" I'm tapped out.
The "Rock of Ages" soundtrack is available now. The film hits theaters on June 15.
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