True music lovers will agree with me that in a lot cases a film’s soundtrack can make or break a film. So with the long awaited release of ‘The Great Gatsby’ almost at our local cinemas doorsteps, I thought I would take it upon myself to have a listen to the soundtrack behind the film.
First things, first though… you don’t need to be an expert on the storyline of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ to enjoy the 14 tracks that have been compiled together to compliment Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation.
This soundtrack is definitely not what I expected and I mean this in a good way. Think speak easy jazz music melted into a pot of hip-hop, RnB and electronic goodness with a sprinkle of emotional, heart-wrenching, powerful pieces. It’s definitely an interesting combination, but the soundtrack in itself tells a story so oddly enough it works.
Jay Z opens the soundtrack with the song “100$ Bill”. The track has a bass heavy groove, which is subtly mixed with the sounds of a muted trumpet. The muted trumpet highlights a particular 1920s jazz sound, which opens the floodgates for the fusion of jazz and hip hop to shine through within certain tracks of the soundtrack. What really grabs me about this individual track though, is the crackling samples of the film’s audio that are remixed throughout the entire song. The cleverly written lyrics of the track work directly with many of the underlying themes within ‘The Great Gatsby’s’ storyline, including economic prosperity and status quo. It’s Jay Z’s interpretation of the excessively rich by any means necessary attitude of main character Jay Gatsby and a history lesson all rolled into one.
He might now be officially well known for stealing music, but Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am does an amazing job with the soundtrack’s song “Bang Bang”. It’s the first track to mix a jazzy trumpet tune with an infectious modern dance beat. It’s a bit of Louis with a twist of will.i.am. Expect a little bit of banjo and a little bit of scatting, but think black & white, comedy, silent film turned rave.
I can guarantee you that one of the soundtrack’s more upbeat songs will be heard in nightclubs for the next 12 months, so prepare yourself for that. The track’s called “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” and it’s performed by Fergie ft. QTip & GoonRock. A friend of mine showed me this song about a week before I discovered it was on this soundtrack and to quote my first reaction “this song is dope.” It’s a concoction of jazzy saxophone and hidden old school player piano sounds with a killer house anthem beat. Once you hear the bass drop for the first time, you’ll understand my first statement.
Lana Del Rey strikes us with a powerful and incredibly moving piece titled “Young & Beautiful”. This track moves away from the RnB and jazz themes that have made themselves at home throughout the soundtrack. It’s orchestral, it’s raw and it’s emotional. The lyrics of this song will really speak to some individuals, resonating the feeling and the need to be loved for who you are rather than what you look like. This would have to be one of my personal favourites from the soundtrack, it’s truly beautiful.
If you’re like me and are a bit of a sucker for great covers of songs, then you’ll be pleased that this soundtrack provides you with two quality covers. André 3000 and Beyoncé perform the first cover, which is of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”. The dark natured song strays away from the original classic big band sound to a dark lower repetitive hip-hop like bass filled groove. This transformation of the song makes the cover almost unrecognizable until the first verse kicks in. The second cover is of Beyoncé’s track “Crazy In Love” performed by Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. This would have to be my favourite of the two covers as it’s one of the few songs on the soundtrack to be straight out big band jazz music.
Instead of discussing the soulful voice of Coco O. of Quadron or reliving Gotye’s 2007 track “Hearts A Mess”, I’ll leave you with a link here to the soundtrack’s stream on NPR Music’s website so you too can have a listen to the soundtrack in its entirety.
On a side note though, resident Mind The Music contributor, Nick Linde hunts down some amazing cover songs and writes about them in the blog post series, Under the Covers. So if you’re ever in the need for a cover song fix, I’d highly recommend checking out some of his musings.
‘The Great Gatsby’ is in Australian cinemas May 30, 2013.
The Great Gatsby Soundtrack [Deluxe Edition] is available to purchase & download here.
Do you agree that a soundtrack can make or break a film? What are some of your favourite movie soundtracks? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or get talking to me via twitter (@morgannjames). I’d love to hear from you!