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Various artists 

The Crow: Salvation (Koch) Million Dollar Hotel (Interscope)

Various artists
The Crow: Salvation
(Koch)

Various artists
Million Dollar Hotel
(Interscope)

How does one define a good soundtrack? Is it the effective use of music to increase the emotion of the story or just a publicity tool to attract more moviegoers? Hopefully, a little of both. The Crow: Salvation has the added burden of equaling if not surpassing its two predecessors, which featured gems such as the Violent Femmes' "Color Me Once" and Hole's cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman." Even though the latest installment lacks fodder for alternative rock radio, it does possess something better -- the songs here have more personality. Hole's cover of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," for example, updates the track by amplifying its gentle melody with a hard-hitting drumbeat. While Courtney Love's fabricated anger can be grating, it doesn't detract from the song's effectiveness. Tricky delivers "Antihistamine (Forgotten by the World Mix)," a terrific song that features mumbling vocals and psychotic, off-timed synthesizers. Its disturbing nature is a perfect fit for the darkly themed series. Kid Rock and the Crystal Method also deliver keepers, while the Flys, New American Shame, and Days of the New offer only one-dimensional fare.

The Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack takes a different approach. This Wim Wenders-directed movie was co-written by Bono, which explains why he appears, in some form or another (singing and playing guitar and piano), on 12 of the disc's 16 tracks. U2 fans may initially flock to the release for insight into the band's next album -- due out this fall -- but there is very little offered. "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," featuring lyrics by Salman Rushdie (how is it he can pal around with Bono, but the Muslim bounty hunters can't find him?), has a subtle, quintessential U2 feel with the Edge's potent but modest guitar playing. Milla Jovovich, who also stars in the movie, sings an airy rendition of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" with a soothing sax and jazz rhythm. Surprisingly, the lure of this soundtrack isn't the Irish guys, but the relaxing background music (played by the likes of Brad Mehldau, Bill Frisell, and Daniel Lanois).

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