Funny (City of Angels): I was particularly looking forward to hearing Kröger do this song, as long before I'd heard of the album I had decided that he would make an excellent Stine (and his You're Nothing Without Me on In Love With Musical proves I'm right!), and was thrilled to learn that he'd actually recorded Funny. The arrangement isn't that hard to get used to (although I think I'll always find the beginning amusing), but to be honest, Kröger's a bit disappointing. He's not bad, by any means--he's just not incredible. And he's good enough to convince me that he can be! It's hard to say just what I find lacking about his performance on this song, precisely because it's not obviously bad. He's a bit too choppy at times, especially towards the beginning, not quite forceful enough at others (such as around "weave in some deceit"), and this is one of the songs I've heard him do in English where his accent is most noticeable. A clean cut-off on the final note, though, which is nice. :) I'd still love to hear him do this song elsewhere, and better yet, the role itself, because he's more than capable of doing a wonderful job with it; this recording just doesn't happen to live up to his potential, in my opinion.
The Last Night of the World (Miss Saigon; with Nicole): Considerably better than on the cast album! Yes, it's a more pop arrangement than the theatre version, but then, this is a pop song already, and they didn't go overboard on this arrangement (unlike some of the others). Nicole doesn't have a "Kim voice", but then, it's out of context, so that's unimportant, and she's definitely a stronger singer than Aura Deva. :) And, most importantly, Kröger's performance here is much better than on the Saigon cast album. My only real problem with this one is that there are a couple of bizarre changes to the vocal lines (mainly hers--echoing "on the other side", for instance), but those are relatively easy to get used to.
Diese Nacht ist so sternenklar (Evita): I don't like this song to begin with, which may be why I enjoy Kröger's version so much. Yes, it's a very unusual arrangement--sort of cheesy Latin pop, I suppose--but it works for me. This is primarily because of Kröger; very light, smooth performance and good feeling for the music (especially during the bridge). I, at least, get the feeling that he's having fun with it, cheesy arrangement and all, and not taking it seriously--which is just what this song needs, IMO. I enjoy listening to this track...although I wish the ending weren't so long.
Any Dream Will Do (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat): Not one of my favourite songs, and this version does nothing to change that opinion. Someone I know dubbed it "the NeverEnding Story Any Dream Will Do", and the name has stuck, because it's regrettably appropriate. This arrangement goes beyond cheesy; someone else I know, upon first hearing the album, said during the opening of this track that "this isn't a theatre song. It can't be a theatre song!", and it's easy to see why. Vocally, it's fine, of course, but not enough to make it worth listening to despite the arrangement; I usually get about one verse into it before giving up and fast forwarding in frustration. I'd much rather have heard Kröger do Close Every Door, if he wanted a song from Joseph...although given the way this album's arrangements ended up, perhaps I'm better off without it. :)
Die Schatten werden länger (Elisabeth; with Helmut Lotti): Tied for "most disappointing track on the album", probably due in part to the fact that I love the cast album version so much. The arrangement's bizarre, of course--sort of futuristic, I suppose--but that's not what causes me to skip this song every time I listen to the recording. This is one of only two tracks that I find extremely disappointing vocally, to be honest. Lotti's just plain bad (and what's with the way he does "völlig krank" and "Notwehr"?!), but the biggest disappointment is, of course, Kröger. The smooth, seductive der Tod of the cast album is gone. I'm almost inclined to think that he didn't really want to do this song for some reason, because the energy, force, and fun of the original are so completely lacking.
SOS (Starmania): Sheer perfection! Basically, this track is worth owning the recording for, as far as I'm concerned. It was the first version I've heard, and the only one I ever listen to, so I don't know how it's "supposed" to sound, but the arrangement isn't obviously unsuitable. And vocally...wow. It's one of the first songs (along with Der letzte Tanz--cast album version) that I play when I want to introduce someone to Kröger's work, and it never fails to impress. Those octaves-spanning passages are simply wonderful; they show that he's got a lower range I'm already looking forward to hearing more of when we get a Stuttgart Schöne und das Biest cast recording, and a falsetto that is unusually pleasant to listen to. Unlike the previous track, his musicality and sense of phrasing are back to normal: wonderful.
Starlight Express (Starlight Express): Another song I don't normally like, but Kröger's version was a lovely surprise. I can't remember the original arrangement, and don't want to get out the OLC to check, but this one is fine as far as I'm concerned. Kröger, of course, sounds incredible. I hate to admit that I actually like a song from this show, no matter who it is that's performing it, but I do.
Musik der Dunkelheit (Phantom der Oper): *Sigh*. I eventually managed to get to the point where I could listen to this track without cringing, but it took a while. The arrangement's typical bad pop, while he sings it normally; the vocal and instrumental lines sound like they were recorded separately and just pasted together, without any attempt to make them sound like they belong together. Vocally, of course, it's enough to make me wish he'd do a "real" recording of this song, and I know a Phantom freak who said she'd love to hear him actually do the role after hearing this version....It's just hard to get past the idea of a pop MotN, especially since Kröger sounds so good.
Is It Okay If I Call You Mine? (Fame): Yet another song I wasn't familiar with before this album. The arrangement seems startlingly appropriate; both for that reason, and for the song itself, it sounds very out of place on this particular album. It's not a great song, but it's cute.
Der letzte Tanz (Elisabeth): The other skip-every-time song, alas. As with Schatten, I adore this song on the original Elisabeth cast album--but the other recordings Kröger's done of it that I've heard (here, and on In Love With Musical) leave me extremely disappointed. In addition to the usual problems with arrangements, this track's missing the smoothness and the seductive quality of the original--again like Schatten. Plus he's doing some bizarre alterations to the melody that aren't as extreme as on ILWM, but still bother me. To be honest, these two versions of the song remind me more of Addo Kruizinga on the live cast recording than Kröger on the original; and I can't stand Kruizinga. Kröger doesn't sound quite as evil as Kruizinga, but there's still nothing attractive or tempting about this particular der Tod. If he'd done it this way on the cast album, I wouldn't be doing these pages now, because I never would have started liking his work enough to seek out things beyond Elisabeth--and that would have been a shame, as I do love so much of what I've heard him sing.
Dunkles Schweigen an den Tischen (Les Misérables): Well, at least the arrangement isn't pop, for a change. Instead, it's sort of...martial. Interesting, but it doesn't work for me. And for once, I would rather have had the English lyrics; but then, I've never liked the German translation of this show. :) As for Kröger...well, he's certainly not bad, and it's probably better than the vast majority of other versions of this song I've heard, but this confirms what someone once said about him: we were discussing why in our opinion he had been miscast in Saigon, and she said, "Chrises are usually Marius-types, and he's more of an Enjolras-type". I think she was absolutely right; I don't doubt that his Marius wasn't bad, but I bet his Enj could be incredible.
One Hand, One Heart (West Side Story): Again, I'm not very familiar with the show version of this song, but am not bothered by the arrangement. Kröger sounds just fine, and it's fun to hear him doing a duet with himself. Unlike certain other people who've done solo-duets on their albums (like, for instance, a certain Australian :)), he doesn't attempt to sound like two different people--probably a good idea, in this case. Then again, SOS proves that he's got a pretty good falsetto range, so it could be interesting to hear him attempt the soprano part as written...:)
Tell Me On a Sunday (Song & Dance): Probably my second favourite track on this album. Yes, the arrangement's different, but again, it works. And he sounds so good.... A couple of slight accent problems (some "want"s sound more like "won't", for instance, and his tendency to forget that English doesn't devoice final consonants leads to lines like "don't leaf in silence"), and a minor lyric error, but he sounds good enough and the errors are unimportant enough that they just seem cute, rather than like true faults. This song sounds wonderfully suited to his voice, and certainly his version is better than those on either cast album.