ScarJo & Pete Yorn team up – and score.

The pair’s collaboration, ‘The Break Up,’ isn’t as bad as it logically should be.

by Kara Nesvig

Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson ALBUM: âÄúBreak UpâÄù LABEL: Rhino Records History has trained society to have low expectations for actors branching out into recorded music, and for good reason. Remember, say, Russell CroweâÄôs foray into musicianship? Yeah, didnâÄôt think so. Sure, thereâÄôve been a couple exceptions like Jason Schwartzman (Coconut Records) and Zooey Deschanel (She & Him. ), but for the most part, itâÄôs all either predictably underwhelming or coated with Disney sugar. Dubious acting talent aside (but general hotness not), Scarlett JohanssonâÄôs strange, out of nowhere attempt at a Tom Waits cover album, âÄúAnywhere I Lay my HeadâÄù was one of those instantly forgettable offerings from a hot actress with a yen to diversify her portfolio. Guess it wasnâÄôt enough to be a LâÄôoreal model, Dolce & Gabbana favorite muse and wife of Ryan Reynolds. Despite all the hype her album got for David Bowie and Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio)âÄôs involvement, it still felt disjointed and reeked of desperate pleas for indie cred. âÄúEntertainment WeeklyâÄù wasnâÄôt fooled; they deemed it the worst album of 2008. But lovely Scarlett, apparently not disillusioned by the mixed reviews âÄúAnywhereâÄù got, had hooked up with Pete Yorn, a sorta-famous dude well-liked by folks in their thirties, and unseemingly popular on cable TV music channels. They began collaborating way back in 2006 to record âÄúBreak UpâÄù (after a break-up of her own, with local boy Josh Hartnett ). Apparently Yorn asked her to participate via text message. The pair wanted their collaboration to pay homage to the great guy-and-girl duet albums, the Serge Gainsbourg/Brigitte Bardot/Jane Birkin team-ups or the Nancy Sinatras and Lee Hazlewood âÄô60s sugar pop. So, howâÄôd they do? âÄúBreak UpâÄù wonâÄôt be as memorable as the stuff Serge did with ex-wife Jane or bombshell Bardot (it lacks that oozy sex factor), but itâÄôs relatively harmless and a pretention-free zone of easy, breezy little pop tunes. All snark aside, Scarlett has an inoffensively pretty voice, easily mistakable for that of peer Deschanel , with a Billie Holliday quiver. The musical material of âÄúBreak UpâÄù tends to lean towards generic songs, the kind Yorn has made his name on, harmless jangly pop ditties that would get played on Cities 97 if it werenâÄôt for ScarJoâÄôs âÄúedgyâÄù presence that might merit a spin or two on The Current . The dynamic between Yorn and Johansson is much like the one between Woody Allen and Scarlett âÄî heâÄôs the older, wiser, more experienced Svengali behind the scenes, and sheâÄôs the foxy, alluring young girl with only a smattering of actual vocal talent and range but sex appeal and glamour to spare. Yorn knows how to craft a song, and it seems Scarlett knows how to upstage him. In the video for âÄúRelator,âÄù all eyes are on ScarlettâÄôs sepia-tinged sexiness, and maybe thatâÄôs how Pete prefers it. âÄúYou donâÄôt relate to me, little girl,âÄù he sings. However, despite their age difference and high-low profile ratio on the Hollywood radar, it seems that Yorn and Johansson make a pretty good pair after all.