A Valiant Attempt

Country superstars pile into a homogenized lump of over-the-top patriot anthems on the Act of Valor soundtrack.

Act of Valor

Country music and the military go together like PB & J. The stars and stripes are synonymous with steel guitars and lyrics about "coming home." In the upcoming real-life war film Act of Valor, starring real-life, active duty Navy SEALs, a level of authenticity is raised with the inclusion of actual events.

Going way beyond Chuck Norris slowly drawing himself out of the water or Sylvester Stallone driving his veiny fist into a terrorist's face, the film looks to be an emotional juggernaut and a grainy glimpse into the intense lifesaving missions our boys in camo embark on. The soundtrack, regretfully, falls short of being comparably genuine. A mash-up of post-pop country music wrapped in sap and packaged as a patriotic conglomeration, the soundtrack to Act of Valor poses as new age Americana, but ends up sounding like a cliché mix tape.

Since Garth Brooks stopped making truck-rocking western songs,  country music has gone the way of teenage romance and poppy-pop with a twang. You don't even have to be from the South, a rural area or even a suburb to become a country music star today. With artists like Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts singing about city life and breakups, the definitions of what country music really is, and what it really should be, have been erased.

With only 10 tracks on the album, the soundtrack is a quick, to-the-point compilation of missing a sweetheart and slapping bandages on wounds. The album boasts new tracks from powerhouse duo Sugarland and living legend Wynonna Judd, and fills in the blanks with go-to acts like Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry and Trace Adkins.


1. Keith Urban, "For You"
2. Sugarland, "Guide Me Home"
3. Lady Antebellum, "I Was Here"
4. Trace Adkins, If the Sun Comes Up"
5. Lori McKenna, "Two Soldiers Coming Home"
6. Jake Owen, "The Best I Can"
7. Montgomery Gentry, "What It Takes"
8. Josh Kelley, "The Best of Me"
9. Hunter Hayes, "Where I Left Off"
10. Wynonna Judd, "Whatever Brings You Back"

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Each song plays on certain themes of what this kind of movie is about. Urban starts off the album with his square-jawed original song "For You," chronicling a soldier's love for his woman, his children, and love of country. Lady Antebellum tugs at the heartstrings with "I Was Here," a testimonial about doing something that matters and making an impact. With such a raw quality to the storyline of the movie, the soundtrack continues on with playing at these stock themes of American ethno-patriotism. From the track list it seems as though our soldiers literally only listen to country music, as if John Mayer or Lil' Wayne are non-existent over there. Another theme touched on in any war film is strength, and it is manifested in Josh Kelley's "The Best of Me." In the song, Kelley waxes muscular with his moving lyrics about having demons like everyone else and just trying to make his own way in this cruel world.

Separately, each song would hold its weight as a viable composition of emotion and love. Together, the album tries too hard at drawing the same raw quality that the film directs. The soundtrack could have used hard rock anthems of ass-kicking soldiers or a melodious score that reaches every corner of the human heart in cinematic battle. The album ends up being easily forgettable and commonly blasé in its approach to be a companion to a military study.

Bottom line: Act of Valor's soundtrack boasts top artists, but plays the same tune.

Image courtesy Relativity Music Group

Tags: act of valor

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Comments on "REVIEW: Act of Valor soundtrack ain't so country strong"

Jim December 14, 2012 | 2:55 AM

I think what blows credibility is implying that love of country, family and patriotism coupled with the wililngness to sacrifice everything is somehow wrong. Somewhere I got that in the link to this, and had to see what it was about. Perhaps its just a distaste for country music, but when that distaste is based on the above prejudices agsinst real values I can say with certainly you can go - yourself.

Nick December 03, 2012 | 9:56 PM

I must partially agree with the article, because I felt like the soundtrack fell short of what it should be, because while I like country music, many of the songs just were not very good country. However, "For You" is an amazing song, far better than any other on the album. A hard rock song would have been pretty cool too

SheKnows Editor February 28, 2012 | 3:25 PM

Thank you all for your feedback. We have corrected the date mistake in our article and apologize for the oopsie. For those of you who mentioned the word "valiant" in our headline, it is, in fact, a word in the dictionary, meaning "boldly courageous, showing bravery or valor." http://dictionary.reference/browse/valiant. Again, many thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

Elsie February 27, 2012 | 9:55 AM

Jeeze, I would hate to run into a Keith Urban fan in a dark alley. I thought it was a well written article.

Lianne February 27, 2012 | 9:20 AM

I agree with Nic. I know a lot of people in the military and they definitely don't just listen to country music as this movie's soundtrack has implied. Also, if the mistake regarding the Keith Urban song makes the author "lose all credibility", then I suppose none of you have any either since we ALL make mistakes.

Wondering February 25, 2012 | 8:36 PM

J'aime, thanks for asking if anyone had actually read the article. I was a bit worried when I saw that I'manurbangirl2 had no idea that 'valiant' was actually a word! She seemed to think that it was exclusively the domain of a car. I can only hope that she owns a dictionary. BTW - as an Urban fan, I want clarity. As a music fan, the writer has a point...

J'aime February 25, 2012 | 8:07 PM

Did anyone actually read the rest of the article or did that one flub kill it?

I'manurbangirl2 February 24, 2012 | 10:59 PM


I'manurbangirl2 February 24, 2012 | 10:56 PM

As you've already been advised, Keith Urban's contribution to the ACT OF VALOR sound track is "FOR YOU" - I'm thinking you could have done an act of valor yourself and at least listened to the song, because your interpretation of it's meaning is so far of base, that the Navy Seal's would be feeling mighty pleased you're not in the trenches with them - because you certainly aren't on theirs ... I challenge you to get into the trenches with Keith Urban, because I'm sure you could do with a few hard core lessons on music writing, performance and guitar virtuoso that would make your head spin ... I'm sure you didn't even notice the sounds of bullets in Keith's instrumental score and I'm more sure you won't be noticing the pot shots been made at you about your absurd and pathetic review - GET A LIFE - THE NAVY SEAL'S AND KEITH URBAN HAVE ONE !!!

Beth February 24, 2012 | 3:36 PM

As others have written, Keith wrote the song "For You" for the movie after Nic and he had a special viewing of the movie.It is NOT his song "All For You" that is on this CD. His song "For You" is both beautiful and powerful. I think that this song does deserves awards!!!!!

Dee Dee February 24, 2012 | 2:17 PM

Alas. I might have agreed with the previous comments IF they had been constructive. Just remember: When we point a finger at someone in derision, there are four digits aimed at us. Did you consider, gentle readers, that perhaps this might have been a posting issue? Even the esteemed New York Times has a 'Corrections' section.

Kim February 24, 2012 | 11:53 AM

The comments here are accurate; your statements are not. Keith Urban wrote this song in November 2011 especailly for the film. When you don't get the facts straight (which aren't difficult to do if you conduct even the slightest bit of research), you lose any sense of credibility.

Mia February 24, 2012 | 7:09 AM

One thing a journalist should always do is check for accuracies. You should also know that Keith Urban's fans will not stand for inaccuracies printed about him. Maybe if you had your facts right about his song your article would have some credibility but, you don't - so it doesn't.

Mia February 24, 2012 | 7:02 AM

A good journalist would make certain her facts were right, and if you knew anything about Keith Urban you would know that his fans will not stand for inaccuracies in talking about him. Your information about Keith is wrong so, maybe if you knew what you were talking about your article would have some credibility but.....clearly you don't, so it doesn't.

Jen February 24, 2012 | 6:14 AM

Get your facts right. The title track is a new song written for the movie. You have no credibility.

Suki February 24, 2012 | 5:53 AM

It is hard to take a review seriously when you comment on the WRONG SONG! Keith Urban's track is not from his 2010 album. Though the title might be very close, the song on the soundtrack was written specifically for the movie. It sounds nothing like the song you are referring to.

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