Tuesday 28 May 2013

How Does The Great Gatsby Soundtrack Compare With Luhrmann's Best? - Track By Track Review

Reviews may have been mixed for 'The Great Gatsby' film but what about the official soundtrack? Baz Luhrmann is renowned for having impeccable taste when it comes to selecting the music for his films and previous soundtracks such as 'Romeo & Juliet' and 'Moulin Rouge' have been hugely successful albums, both commercially and critically. How does 'The Great Gatsby' soundtrack stack up against Luhrmann's best?  

With executive producer Jay-Z by his side, it seems that Luhrmann had the entire music industry at his disposal when selecting who should appear on the album. The end result features an impressively eclectic range of artists who contribute both exciting new material and interesting takes on some classic songs. It's not every day that you would find Lana Del Rey, Jack White and Andre 3000 all on the same album but Luhrmann somehow makes it work by threading a 20s style big band sound throughout. Each artist plays around with this in their own unique way, which makes for a consistently interesting listen. Of course, not every song works and some may depend on your personal preference for the artist at hand but it's been a long time since I've been able to listen to a soundtrack all the way through without wanting to skip a track and the overall atmosphere perfectly fits the tone of the film. 

Soundtracks can always be a little bit hit and miss however so with that in mind, I urge you to read on for my track by track review of 'The Great Gatsby' soundtrack to decide the best songs to download if you can't be bothered to buy the whole album.

1. $100 Bills - Jay-Z

Mr Carter proved with 'American Gangster' that he knows how to make a kick ass soundtrack and this opening track is no exception. '$100 Bills' immediately sets the tone with its dirty production and lyrics that describe the lifestyles of the rich and famous in all their decadent glory. What surprises me though is how effectively the audio clips from 'The Great Gatsby' are interwoven with Jay-Z's raps. Who would have thought a Jay-Z/Leonardo Dicaprio duet would sound so awesome? 

2. Back To Black - Beyonce & Andre 3000

Mrs Carter steps up next with Andre 3000 on a cover of Amy Winehouse's classic hit 'Back To Black'. While I admire how the pair tried to do something different with the song, I think their version falls a bit flat compared to the emotional honesty of the original. Saying that though, the production fits in well with the dark tone of the album and I still think it's worth a listen. Just try to give it a chance on its own merit.

3. Bang Bang - Will.I.Am

Will.I.Am's contribution is a perfect example of how the soundtrack melds the sound of the 20s seamlessly with music from the 21st century. The Black-Eyed Peas frontman ups the ante with this party track which features a modern dance beat sitting comfortably alongside an old-fashioned brass orchestra. Look it even has trumpets! Check out the official video below.

4. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) - Fergie, Q-Tip & Goonrock

Fergie continues the party atmosphere with rapper Q-Tip, who sounds a bit like one of her fellow bandmates from The Black-Eyed Peas. No matter though because with its pulsing beat and Fergie's impressive vocals, 'A Little Party Never Killed Nobody' could easily be the anthem of the summer. I also love the video and while it's a shame that Fergie doesn't appear in it herself, the clips of people dancing from the 1920s is just brilliant.

5. Young And Beautiful - Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey slows things down with official single 'Young and Beautiful', which shows the darker side behind the hedonistic lifestyle Gatsby celebrates in the film. As an artist, Lana already sounded like a femme fatale lifted from another era so it made perfect sense to use her song so prominently in the film. The ballad beautifully sums up the complicated relationship between Gatsby and Daisy and Lana's voice just sounds gorgeous throughout. If you're a fan, then I would also recommend you check out some more of her recent video releases right here.  

6. Love Is The Drug - Bryan Ferry with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra

Bryan Ferry originally recorded 'Love Is The Drug' in 1975 with his band Roxy Music, so why include it on the soundtrack? Well lyrically, the song fits perfectly with the albums themes and the new orchestral backing makes it sound like a brand new song. Ferry's voice has also aged somewhat but this gives the track more of a throwback swing vibe which sounds both retro and timeless all at once.  

7. Over The Love - Florence And The Machine

Don't hate me but I'm not normally a fan of Florence's voice. Saying that though, I love the intensity of this song and Florence sounds more understated here, which makes the emotion in her voice all the more powerful.  It's a shame that 'Over The Love' wasn't used more in the film as I think it's definitely one of the highlights on this soundtrack and the orchestral backing also makes it one of the most cinematic.

8. Where The Wind Blows - Coco O of Quadron

Coco O is a member of the group Quadron, who describe their sound as electronic soul. While this may not sound like it would work on a soundtrack like this, the piano playing on 'Where The Wind Blows' gives it a bouncy retro vibe that fits perfectly with the general tone of the album. As one of the more lesser known artists on here, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is actually one of the highlights and it would be a shame for people to miss it out just by downloading select favourites. 

9. Crazy In Love - Emeli Sande & The Bryan Ferry Orchestra

'Crazy In Love' is a modern classic so it was wise for Emeli Sande to put her own spin on the track. It just goes to show that if a song is incredible, it will still sound great even if the production is completely reworked. I love the tempo and I can't get enough of those trumpets but I just wish that the producers had asked a vocalist with a bit more personality to do their thing on the song. 

10. Together - The Xx

At first, I wasn't sure why this song was on the soundtrack as it didn't seem to fit musically with the rest of the album. However, 'Together' grew on me with each listen and I'd now argue that this Xx track is the most pivotal song on the whole soundtrack. It is certainly the most poignant choice thematically, appearing sporadically throughout during key moments in the central romance. Listening to the songs dark vibe and minimalist production makes me feel like I've been to one of Gatsby's crazy parties but it's now 4 in the morning and I'm on a serious comedown. I've always been a huge fan of the Xx and I think they've really outdone themselves here. 

11. Hearts A Mess - Gotye

Before Gotye released 'Somebody That I Used To Know', he had already been a prolific artist on the alternative scene and this cut from second album 'Like Drawing Blood' is a highlight of his early career. Despite being one of the oldest recordings on the soundtrack, 'Hearts A Mess' is also one of the best. The lyrics are just beautiful from start to finish and the mournful tone of the song is perfectly captured in the official promo, which was directed and animated by Brendan Cook. It's difficult to describe the look of the video but if I was forced to, I would say that it's like a steampunk mash up of Tim Burton and traditional European animation. Doesn't help much does it? Just click play below!

12. Love Is Blindness - Jack White

I've been a big fan of Jack White's solo work recently and his raw, pained voice sounds fantastic on this cover of U2's critical hit 'Love Is Blindness'. The lyrics paint a picture of a relationship falling apart and Jack White's unique take on this is both haunting and unsettling.   

13. Into The Past - Nero

Penultimate track 'Into The Past' is unique on this soundtrack for its dubstep influences but the atmosphere fits well with the other darker songs positioned towards the end of the album. It's great to see another UK act on one of the biggest soundtracks of the year and I think Nero are destined for big things.

14. Kill And Run - Sia

Sia is officially the most underrated singer/songwriter of all time. Her beautiful voice and honest songwriting combine to create the most heart-wrenching songs without an ounce of cheese in sight. 'Kill And Run' may not be up there with her biggest tracks but it's a worthy addition to the soundtrack which tugs at you emotionally and grows stronger with every listen. I love it when Sia lets go at the end and if you haven't listed to her before, then I urge you to click here and listen to some of her best songs. You will not be disappointed.

In summary, I'd suggest that even if you didn't enjoy the film as much as you might have hoped, I would still give 'The Great Gatsby' soundtrack a chance, as there are some brilliant songs on here from a range of accomplished artists. It may not reach the classic status of Luhrmann's earlier soundtracks, such as 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Romeo & Juliet', but it is still one of the best that you'll hear this year, guaranteed.

So what do you think of the soundtrack? What's your favourite song? How do you think it compares to Luhrmann's impressive back catalogue? Let me know by commenting, liking and sharing below.

No comments:

Post a Comment