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Album Review

With ‘Burlesque,’ hearing beats seeing

December 6, 2010

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They don’t come here to hear you sing. The working girls are often told that in “Burlesque,’’ the new film about a cabaret lounge where Cher and Christina Aguilera rule the roost of frisky hens. It’s funny, then, that the music is what rescues an otherwise shaky script from utter melodrama. The movie looses Aguilera (above) to do what she does best — rip, snort, and vamp her way through power ballads, jazzy throwbacks, and a few new dance tracks. (It’s not unlike Madonna’s “I’m Breathless,’’ featuring music from and inspired by the film “Dick Tracy.’’) Cher has just two songs but they’re robust. “Welcome to Burlesque,’’ her opening number, is sly and effortless; the same can’t be said for “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,’’ a Diane Warren anthem that doubles as Cher’s final act. Mostly, though, “Burlesque’’ reminds you of Aguilera’s vocal gifts, especially after “Bionic,’’ her recent electro-pop album, obscured those talents. Aside from endless close-ups of pelvic thrusts and a parade of wigs, you’re not missing much if you buy the album without seeing the film. Only when Aguilera belts “Bound to You,’’ alone in the spotlight and on the verge of tears, does seeing the movie performance feel necessary. (Out now) JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Bound to You’’