Baz Luhrmann’s no Quentin Tarantino with a film soundtrack, but he’s not half bad. From the moaning bittersweet yelp of Garbage’s ‘#1 Crush’ to the Hawaiian stoner rock of Everclear’s ‘Local God’ and Radiohead’s bone-chilling ‘Talk Show Host’ to bloody Des’ree, ‘Romeo + Juliet’ had a near-perfect run-down. ‘Moulin Rouge!’ had the ‘Elephant Love Medley’ which saw Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor singing 12 songs in one (surprisingly well), David Bowie and ‘Lady Marmalade’; ‘Strictly Ballroom’ was evocative (Doris Day, ‘Time After Time’, ‘Love Is In The Air’); and no one’s seen ‘Australia’ anyway.
We’ve got the soundtrack to Lurhmann’s latest film, ‘The Great Gatsby’, which premiered last night. You can stream it here. Is it a return to form from Luzza? Here’s what we’re dealing with.
Jay-Z – 100$ Bill
“My life, my life has got to be like this, it’s got to keep going up,” intones Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, introducing the theme of excess and the American dream immediately. Samples of a children’s choir lay over Jay-Z’s paean to riches. The audio “I had my own little business on the side, a sort of sideline… a rather confidential sort of thing…but you might make a nice bit of money” introduces a sliver of mystery. How does Gatsby pay for his lavish parties?
A jabbing, moody synth and electro bleeps brings Amy Winehouse’s classic crawling into 2013. It’s a dark and oil-slicked version complemented by Beyoncé’s honey-voiced chorus though I can’t help think of the old adage: don’t mess with perfection.
Jazz! Will.i.am brings his hashtag-hiNRG-EDM-kerching-electropop plague to a Charleston sample. Sounds awful? It’s annoyingly catchy. ‘Bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang’ he wangs and you can’t help but nod your head. I attribute this more to the magic of the Charleston.
Fergie – ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)’ (Featuring Q-Tip and GoonRock)
Like a party buffet, ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)’ is a mixed bag. Whatever you think about Fergie, she’s got solid pipes. Q-Tip’s rapping is always a pleasure. You can’t argue with a Duke Ellington sample. However it’s drowning in that Guetta-gloop: dialled-in beats, euro-house high-hats and the inevitable dubstep breakdown. The mushroom vol-au-vent of the party.
Del Rey was made to soundtrack this film. The “gangsta Nancy Sinatra Lolita in the hood etc” contributes a sweeping ballad. “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” she wonders sounding more and more like Blanche Dubois with a blinding voice every day.
Ferry and his orchestra cover his own ‘Love Is the Drug’, a 1975 single from Roxy Music’s fifth studio album ‘Siren’. It’s a feast of honky-tonk, bass sax, sleazy strings and oohs.
Florence + The Machine – Over The Love
Proceedings remain histrionic and intense with Florence’s ballad ‘Over The Love’. With keys like galloping horses, one imagines this might soundtrack the moment (HUGE SPOILER ALERT) Wilson shoots Gatsby.
One of the only relative unknowns on the album, Coco O is a Danish singer in the electronic soul duo Quadron. It blends jazzy keys with drum ‘n bass beats and a sultry, refreshing chorus.
Oh dear. When nuclear fallout arrives, who’ll soundtrack the remaining cockroaches, roaming the earth, lonely and hungry? The ubituitous Sandé of course (and Adele no doubt). It sounds like a cover by your dad’s wedding band.
The xx – ‘Together’
Those dark East London quasi-goths fit perfectly into the theme of hysteria. ‘Together’ will surely soundtrack Daisy having a moment on a chaise longue, confused by her feelings for Gatsby, reaching for the smelling salts. It remains lo-fi and classic xx before an extremely cheesy string breakdown. Emo squared.
‘Hearts A Mess’ has the same clunking, treated backbone as ‘Somebody That You Used To Know’. Strings, again, plenty of strings, martial beats and Wouter “Wally” De Backer’s vocals creates something instantly forgettable.
Apart from sounding as if White’s been taking singing lessons from Starsailor’s James Walsh, this tune ticks all the Gatsby boxes: big, overwrought and highly strung. It took me about two minutes before I ODd on the piercing yelps, drum beats like cliffs falling into the ocean and a gut-poking bass line.
Nero – Into The Past
More dubstep from London trio Nero. Slow, oceanic, atmospheric. To soundtrack the (ANOTHER HUGE SPOILER ALERT) funeral perhaps?
Yes, it sounds more like a James Bond theme tune (ululating melodies, sweet harmonies and unexpected key changes) but the Australian singer – often unfairly seen as a rent-a-vocal – ends the soundtrack with a bang.