On Air Now
Cowan's Classics with Rob Cowan 7pm - 9pm
24 July 2018, 17:43 | Updated: 25 July 2018, 09:32
From those who've mastered vocal acrobatics to barking animals (oh Pierce, we could never mean you), we’ve ranked all the famous actors in 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' from worst to best, according to their singing abilities.
Following the much discussed release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we’ve analysed every major character’s singing, and ranked them in order of greatness.
WARNING: Article contains spoilers
Stellan Skarsgård described his singing in the first movie as “horrible” and “really painful”. His singing time has been drastically cut down in the second film, so we only get to hear the odd croak from older Bill.
Critics were not kind to Pierce Brosnan after his attempts to sing in the first film. The actor has since told the Radio Times he was “very relieved” to have his singing time radically reduced in Here We Go Again. As were we all, Pierce (kidding-not-kidding).
But what Pierce lacks in singing time, he more than makes up for in sentimentality. His toned-down, solo version of ‘SOS’ is – although still a little barky – quite poignant, as the widowed Sam Carmichael.
“Andy Garcia’s character was invented so that Cher could sing ‘Fernando’,” said screenwriter/director Ol Parker. “I started from the Fernando joke and worked backward trying to figure out what Andy was doing there.”
But understandably, Garcia sadly gets a bit lost next to the '90s diva and voice of such pop hits as ‘Believe’ and ‘I Got You Babe’.
“They didn’t audition me, and I thought, ‘They’re being reckless here. What do they think they’re doing?’,” Firth said at the time of the first film. “They cast me, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgård without asking any of us if we could sing. So I figured they didn’t care if we couldn’t.”
We saw less singing and more of Firth’s (admittedly first-rate) dance moves in the sequel – so for now, let’s reminisce over his sweet, vulnerable vocals in ‘One Last Summer’, featuring some questionable French pronunciation.
In Here We Go Again, Cooper makes a valiant attempt at a tricky ABBA song – but his part in ‘One of Us’ is a bit disengaged, with talk-singing reminiscent of Brosnan’s attempts in the first film.
After being asked to sing in the first film, LAMDA-trained Dominic Cooper told Vanity Fair that singing was “part of my training; I’d done it. I just didn’t have confidence in it.”
The comedy geeks among you will recognise Skinner from Fleabag – but Skinner was also around on the musicals scene not too long ago, playing Joly in Les Misérables (2015) alongside Amanda Seyfried.
Another LAMDA-trained actor, Skinner gives a very entertaining performance of ‘Waterloo’, in which he attempts to sweep Lily James (the young Donna) off her feet. If loving the sight of a young ‘Colin Firth’ dancing in a tiny, child-sized leather jacket in a French restaurant is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Previously seen in TV comedies Detectorists and Raised by Wolves, Davies wasn’t known for her singing before Here We Go Again. It might, therefore, seem like a daunting prospect to sing the title song, 'Mamma Mia!', as the young Julie Walters (aka Rosie). But alongside James and Jessica Keenan Wynn in their band Donna and the Dynamos, she more than holds her own.
Irvine gives a sweet performance of ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. His background is largely in screen drama, but he proves his worth by singing through the part of young Sam with an endearing youthfulness. Unfortunately, he seems to lose it in his old age (sorry, Pierce, we really do mean you this time).
Having previously starred in stage rock musical Heathers, Keenan Wynn is no newbie to musical theatre. She has plenty of singing time with Davies and James in Here We Go Again, as part of the band Donna and the Dynamos, and she sounds just great.
As one of the most loved and qualified actors in the cast, Dame Julie Walters was always going to do a sensational job as Rosie, the original third Dynamo. Her hilarious performance of ‘Take a Chance on Me’ in Mamma Mia! was, admittedly, a tough act to follow. But this time, she still performs on a number of songs, including ‘Angel Eyes’. As you’d expect, she nails it like the Dame she is.
As one of the youngest in the cast, 24-year-old Dylan was up against some stiff competition, from the likes of Firth and Brosnan. But he needn’t have worried: his performance of ‘Why Did It Have to be Me?’ is up there with the original, and proves Dylan as one of the most competent male singers in the film.
Juilliard-trained Baranski is no stranger to musicals, having won two Tony Awards for her Broadway appearances in Rumors and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. She almost stole the show in the first Mamma Mia! film with her risqué performance of ‘Does Your Mother Know’ – and she more than lives up to it with ‘Angel Eyes’ and ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ in Here We Go Again.
We might not get to see as much of Donna as we’d like in Mamma Mia 2, after Streep said that when all is said and done, she couldn’t hack doing a whole movie’s worth of training again. But her fleeting appearances, including singing on ‘My Love, My Life’ and ‘Super Trouper’, are poignant and shiver-worthy. Have a listen to her harmonies with Amanda Seyfried on ‘My Love, My Life’. Our hearts.
Cher appears pretty near the end of the film as Sophie’s grandmother, sings ‘Fernando’, and is majestic as hell. She might be 72 years old, but this '90s powerhouse still has one heck of a belt on her. You might not get as much Cher as you would like for your money, but you can’t put a price on musical joy.
Plus, listen out for some classic Cher-style autotuning in the final 30 seconds of ‘Super Trouper’. It’s top of the range.
Lily James is the breakout star of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, playing the young Donna Sheridan – but she’s no newcomer. Trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, James starred as the title role in Cinderella (2015), as well as playing Debora in Baby Driver (2017) last year.
It’s her coy rendition of ‘Andante Andante’, sung to the young Sam Carmichael, that steals the show in Mamma Mia 2. Her voice is sweet and husky in the verses, with the higher notes of the chorus bringing out a lovely musical theatre twang in her vocals. We like, a lot.
Ah, the sweet vocals of the Seyfried. Once again, Amanda takes on the role of Sophie in the sequel to Mamma Mia! – and somehow, she’s even more impressive than the last time. Seyfried, who trained as a singer before turning to acting, almost became an opera singer instead of an actress. In 2015, she told Celebs Now magazine: “[My biggest regret is] quitting opera-singing training when I was 17. That had been my passion before acting took over and I wish I had stuck with it.”
So do we, Amanda, so do we. Her trembling voice cuts through beautifully in the penultimate chorus of ‘My Love, My Life’, and her harmonies with Meryl Streep on the line ‘like reflections of your mind’ are truly shiver-inducing. Try not to cry… we have already failed.