Tom Cruise, ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ (From ‘Rock of Ages’) – Song Review
The idea of turning an ’80s anthem like Def Leppard‘s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ into a show tune isn’t going to sit well with many formerly Aquanetted, double-socked, Jordache-jean wearing rock fans.
Tom Cruise is challenged with turning Joe Elliott’s vocal performance into something unique and memorable. He gives up early, opting for a karaoke performance that’s too good to laugh at, but not quite good enough to want more.
‘Rock of Ages’ is a musical, so some amount of Broadway production is expected. The “Hey, huh‘s” that fall just beneath the opening guitar riff are certainly forgivable. In fact, more cheese would be a good thing. An extra set of jazz hands would really tick some people off, but for others with a better sense of humor it’d make this song a kitschy standout.
With Cruise on the stick, one finds himself focusing too much on the lyrics. Raise your hand if you’ve listened to the original ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ a million times but never paid attention to the pre-chorus. “Take a bottle / Shake it up / Break the bubble / Break it up.” No, the original ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ swept one away in a wash of emotional excess.
When you begin paying attention to the details, a 25-year-old song begins to show a few bald spots. The same effect is repeated in the bridge. “You got the peaches, I got the cream / Sweet to taste, saccharine.” Really? That’s what he says? Is there a more unrockstarlike word than “saccharine?”
For the most part Cruise’s vocals remain buried beneath the production. While the guitar work is simplified, and the rhythm section not nearly as explosive, the production is a highlight of this remake. The bright backing vocals add texture to an otherwise flat performance.
This version of ‘Sugar’ is like what ‘The New Class’ was to ‘Saved By the Bell.’ It brings a classic to a new audience, but it fails to separate itself from the original in any remarkable way. Instead of risking one audience to please another, the arrangement shoots to please both. At best it leaves one shrugging his shoulders in ambivalence.