Various Artists: The Great Gatsby Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Written by May 12th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

great gatsby

Various Artists
The Great Gatsby Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(Interscope)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Motion picture soundtracks seem to either be attention-grabbers of the highest order, or, even if they’re decent, fail to land any sort of punch. Adding to the soundtrack’s enigmatic nature is the manner in which many great soundtracks are substantially better than the movie the album’s built to accompany. Maybe more than any other director, Cameron Crowe is the biggest culprit of this artistic unevenness. While the so-so Singles, Vanilla Sky and the atrociously self-indulgent Elizabethtown were being forgotten by movie goers by the time they walked out of the Cineplex, the album to each movie represent well-curate, thoughtful and spot-on musical collections whose greatness so far exceeds their celluloid counterparts.

With the critical bath that Baz Lurhmann’s new film The Great Gatsby is taking for its bombastic opulence over storyline substance, he may soon challenge Crowe in this dubious soundtracks-over-screenplay realm — but not quite yet. The Great Gatsby Soundtrack is a fine example of what a film’s musical-mate can and should be; it mirrors many aesthetic elements of the film, augments the general storyline and adds depth and personality to the characters and dialogue on the screen.

The artists comprising the collection scream modern luxury and smell like money – two things that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby really digs. While Leo Decaprio plays the looming titular character in the film, Jay-Z, as the album’s Executive Producer and marquee attraction, holds that role with authority on the album. His “100$ Bills” and “No Church in the Wild,” from his equally decadent 2011 Kanye West collab Watch the Throne showcase Mr. Carter as modern-day’s preeminent party host. Of course, in keeping with the theme of the film’s story, it helps to have a beautiful wife who refuses to take a backseat to her husband. Beyonce and Andre 3000 proffer a synthy, trippy cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Black in Black,” to wondrously hypnotic effect, and in turn, setting the tone for the entire album by blending brash audacity with dark surrealism. The same combination is effectively employed by the dashing Bryan Ferry in his trumpet and beat-driven “Love is the Drug.”

As for the rest of the all-star soundtrack cast – who each turn in complementary and admirable efforts that could easily land on one of their own albums — it’s easy to see the roster as the guest list to one of Gatsby’s or Jay-Z’s outlandish parties. Whichever band was The xx of the roaring 20’s was likely the one’s sitting closest to the finest victrola money could buy at Gatsby’s poolside shin-digs. Lana Del Ray and her overall abilities of vocal seduction cast her as the mysterious songstress of the party, strewn across the grand piano as every man stares enviably. Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch, will.i.am, Gotye and especially Jack White, whose cover of U2’s “Love is Blindness” enjoyably reveals itself as a musical kaleidoscope of sounds, beats and vibes in a perfectly Lurhman-esque fashion, are the worldly people at the party that aren’t as financially loaded as Gatsby, yet always find themselves in the middle of any cultured soiree, ready to capture the revelers and the societal elite with their imaginative poetry, colorful philosophy and general sense of good taste.

With Lurhmann’s grandiose sense of cinematic beauty teaming up with album Jay-Z’s ability to usher blinged-out rhymes into the ears of the masses without much backlash, it would be hard to blame anyone for skipping the flick in order to use their movie money on this roaring, swinging soundtrack instead

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