Baz Luhrmann’s makes big movies, even when the source material isn’t. He makes period pieces that belie the normal idea of what a period piece is, bringing contemporary elements to each setting. And the music for his movies follow a similar formula. Music is always inherent to the story line, to character development, to the sense of pathos of the picture. This is a pattern Luhrmann has followed going back to his first movie “Strictly Ballroom, “ through critical favorites like “Romeo + Juliet” and his tour de force “Moulin Rouge”. So when word came down that Luhrmann would bring his approach to a reboot of The Great Gatsby, it seemed to make sense.
“100$ Bill”, a track peppered with dialogue from the movie, staccato gun-shot beats and Hova’s timely rhymes.
Of the high profile contributors, Jay Z (who helped produce the movie as well as the soundtrack) gets top billing with “100$ Bill”, a track peppered with dialogue from the movie, staccato gun-shot beats and Hova’s timely rhymes. Florence Welch brings her never-subtle sonic assault (this is actually a compliment) with a song written to scene. Jack White’s cover of U2’s “Love Is Blindness” is raw and blistered, emotionally scarred and naked. All of which is a good thing. Lana Del Rey’s torch song for the heroine vibe fits right in. Beyonce and Andre 3000 update Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black.” And will.i.am manages to take “The Charleston” places you really never expected.
What works? Bryan Ferry highlights his recent Jazz Age combo with an update of the Roxy Music classic “Love Is The Drug.” And with an assist from Emeli Sande, transforms Beyonce and Jay Z’s “Crazy In Love” into a perfect flapper favorite. Fergie has fun with Q Tip and GoonsRock on the surprising “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got).” And Sia turns in another emotional performance with “Kill and Run.”
Sampler of the soundrack + movie stills via Interscope Geffen A&M
Less successful are those songs that, lacking the obvious sonic connections to the film, come off as filler. These are admittedly few. Having said that, I haven’t seen the picture yet and Luhrmann can easily bring an emotional connection to a song through its use in a scene. So, yeah.
The Great Gatsby is one of those soundtracks that will have a life outside the movie. From cocktail party playlists and spring get togethers, there is much here that will connect with friends, casual music fans and those who keep up with the latest artists and genres.
Tim Johnstone is a former Virgin Records Label Rep and current award winning Program Director and on-air host at KRVB, which was awarded the FMQB AAA station of the year markets 50+. He also writes a blog that’s a collection of the absolute best the internet has to offer. It’s a must read, and you can check it out here.