Nick Hornby's HIGH FIDELITY is one of my favorite books, so I was pleasantly surprised that the film turned out to be as good as it did. (It made my 2000 top 10 list.) In fact, Hornby's track record with book-to-film adaptations has been sterling. OK, the British version of FEVER PITCH pales in comparison to the Farrelly brothers' movie, but the film adaptations have distilled the essence of his novels quite well.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I was relatively horrified to learn via Stereogum that HIGH FIDELITY is being turned into a Broadway musical. Maybe that doesn't sound so bad to you, especially if you're more partial to showtunes than I am. Take a listen to four songs from the show and tell me this isn't all kinds of wrong.
I'm not predisposed to disliking everything that comes from musical theater, but admittedly it's not my favorite thing in the world either. That said, not only are these songs bad, they're anathema to the musical tastes of the characters. Record store clerks wouldn't be caught dead blaring the cast recording unless they're trying to clear the store at the end of the day. If the idea is to make something cool for those in their twenties and thirties, the least the producers could do is to put together a songbook with a little more edge than Broadway's idea of rock.
Having Stephin Merritt write the songs would have given it street credibility with HIGH FIDELITY characters like Rob and Barry while still attending to the leanings of traditional theatergoers. Otherwise it just seems backwards to take a story about serious music fans--snobs, if you will--and decorate it with songs they wouldn't be caught dead listening to. These songs do not rock.