8:38 am - 05/02/2013

NOW STREAMING: 'The Great Gatsby' Soundtrack

One of the many trailers promoting Baz Lurhmann's film version of The Great Gatsby ends with Leo DiCaprio uttering a crucial line adapted from the original novel. "My life has got to be like this," he says, pointing a finger toward the sky. "It's got to keep going up." That extravagantly aspirational spirit is captured in the soundtrack to the film, executive-produced by the kingpin rapper Jay-Z and featuring a stunning array of hip-hop royals, pop champs and de rigueur alternative rockers. Distilling the essence of the Jazz Age though never completely reflecting it, this soundtrack is as much an event as is the film that inspired it.

How did the music in the original Great Gatsby feel to its characters and audience? The question is central to Lurhmann's latest high-end refurbishing of a thoroughly lived-in classic. The word feel is crucial. We know what the music F. Scott Fitzgerald chose sounds like, because his Jazz Age morality tale includes the names and even some lyrics of the songs that feed its momentum. Readers have compiled Fitzgerald's choices; scholars have analyzed them as expressions of modernist energy or sexual tension, or even as the music-loving author's own satirical stab at music criticism. Lurhmann could have easily commissioned updated versions of ducky numbers like "The Love Nest" and still accomplished his goal of connecting the dots between Jay Gatsby's moment and our own.

But that's not Lurhmann's way. He is cinema's boldest remixer, infusing familiar works with new rhythms that refresh their relevance (or, in the view of Baz haters, overwhelm and distort them). His version of Romeo and Juliet rethought rebellious young love for the moment when grunge collided with rave; in Moulin Rouge, he brought Puccini's La Boheme into the era of the Now That's What I Call Music! compilations. His style of twisting texts into the present may seem facile at first, but they're extremely effective. Kids come for the hits and stay for the stories. English class suddenly gets fun for a whole new generation.

Whether Lurhmann's film does justice to Fitzgerald's essential work will become widely evident when the film opens on May 10. First, we have the film's soundtrack, which like Lurmann's previous ones both arises from within the film and stands separately from it. Some have wondered why, after Lurhmann enlisted Jay-Z's help and announced that his movie's music would recast hip-hop as the jazz of our boom-and-bust era, only a few rappers show up on the album. But just as Fitzgerald peppered his text with references to jazz-influenced pop songs to show how that music became a lingua franca, so this soundtrack aims to show how hip-hop now deeply informs rock, dance music and the Top 40.

On that level, the album succeeds. Florence + the Machine, The xx, Gotye, Lana Del Rey and Jack White (the only artist represented by a previously released track, a pressure-cooker version of U2's ballad "Love is Blindness") are all rock innovators inspired in different ways by hip-hop's collage approach. The same is true of the R&B singers featured, from the currently ubiquitous Beyonce to newcomers Emeli Sande and Coco O. (of the Danish "electronic soul" duo Quadron). Hip-hop itself is represented by veteran experimentalists Q-Tip and Andre 3000 and multi-platinum genre violators will.i.am and Goonrock (producer of LMFAO's biggest hits). Jay-Z reserves the only space for straight-up rap; "100$ Bill" is a strong if typical autobiographical rumination on power and its costs, with Jay-Z comparing himself to everyone from Joseph Kennedy to Marvin Gaye to Albert Einstein.

He does not, however, compare himself directly to Jay Gatsby. That's interesting, not only because the association's so easy to make , but because most of the other tracks on the Gatsby soundtrack do present themselves as ruminations on the book and its impact. American Lit. teachers everywhere are probably silently thanking Lurhmann for providing them with yet another useful classroom tool; here's hoping they don't overlook this album, which unfolds like the term papers of a particularly gifted Fitzgerald seminar.

Considered this way, the songs break down into three categories: reflections on the book's plot and characters; invocations of the musical spirit (though never the letter) of the 1920s; and Lurhmann-like fusions of vintage and contemporary elements. As instantly involving music, the plot-driven songs do best. The jazz-inspired songs, however, are more musically adventurous. And though their happy vulgarity may be off-putting to more refined palates, the fusion numbers are the most successful in approaching that central question about how music felt in 1922.

Perhaps a certain sense of privilege leads the album's rockers to identify most closely with Jay Gatsby and his friends or enemies. It's no surprise, really, that 21st-century "It" girls Lana Del Rey, Sia, and Florence Welch all imagine themselves as Gatsby's fatal lover Daisy Buchanan, or that slick Gotye speaks in Gatsby's voice, or that White's angsty contribution reflects that protagonist's tortured soul. Often-pondered images from the book, like the famous green light or the murderous car crash that seals Gatsby's fate, startle anew in these young artists' hands. But the free-flowing musical experimentation of the 1920s is better invoked by the hip-hop cats and R&B dolls who give this soundtrack its fizz.

Give credit to will.i.am for paying tribute to Louis Armstrong in "Bang Bang," and to his old partner Fergie, who on her Q-Tip/Goonrock collaboration "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" shows an awareness of how 1920s jazz babies actually sang. (She may have been directed to do so, since her song and will.i.am's are featured in the film's big party scenes.) Beyonce does shift her usual approach, in search of a way to perform "Back To Black" without too strongly invoking Amy Winehouse; but she gets stuck in the 1950s, sounding far more like a torch singer than a blues queen.

Is this a problem? Not really. Lurhmann's postmodernism has plenty of room for the juxtaposition of historic and current styles. And in fact, the soundtrack's most explicitly recombinant songs are the most intriguing. The simplicity of Coco O's approach, which has her singing blithely over what sounds like a looped player piano, gives a new spin to Bessie Smith's classic dialogues with the pianist James P. Johnson. Then there's Andre 3000's half of the "Back To Black" collaboration; the rapper sings in a dandyish snarl that's been off-putting to some, but his radical rearrangement of the song comes closer than anything else here to Lurhmann's own nearly surrealist aesthetic.

And finally, there's Bryan Ferry, the soundtrack's old gentleman, who's been playing at Lurhmann's game since Roxy Music started back at the dawn of the 1970s. Ferry's reworking of that band's "Love Is the Drug" in the spirit of crooners like Russ Columbo sounds straightforward at first, like the instrumental album he released earlier this year (and much of his solo work). Consider the lyrics of Roxy's biggest hit, though; singles bars and scoring would have never been mentioned in Gatsby's West Egg home. In Ferry's performance, the past infuses the present like the bubbles in a glass of champagne. Jay Gatsby would have cherished the illusion.

Visit the SOURCE for a FULL STREAM of the entire album!

Songs I like:

$100 Bill - Jay Z
Back To Black - Beyonce & Andre 3000
Bang Bang - will.i.am
A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) - Fergie
Young And Beautiful - Lana Del Rey
Love Is the Drug - Bryan Ferry
Over The Love - Florence + The Machine
Where The Wind Blows - Coco O.
Crazy in Love - Emeli Sande
Together - The xx
Hearts A Mess - Gotye
Love is Blindness - Jack White
Into the Past - Nero
Kill and Run - Sia
None it all sucks

Songs I hate:

$100 Bill - Jay Z
Back To Black - Beyonce & Andre 3000
Bang Bang - will.i.am
A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) - Fergie
Young And Beautiful - Lana Del Rey
Love Is the Drug - Bryan Ferry
Over The Love - Florence + The Machine
Where The Wind Blows - Coco O.
Crazy in Love - Emeli Sande
Together - The xx
Hearts A Mess - Gotye
Love is Blindness - Jack White
Into the Past - Nero
Kill and Run - Sia
None its all great


Posted mainly for the stream and untagged audio. May be in the minority but I'm not mad at the Back to Black cover now that the East Village Radio tag is gone... interested to see how the songs are used in the film.
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fancycarousel 2nd-May-2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
listening to it rn omg
torontok 2nd-May-2013 05:30 pm (UTC)
mte, Emelie sounds like she's racing to catch up to the instrumental
I hope someone slows it down and posts that version
wasabi_girl1 2nd-May-2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
ikr and i really wanted to like it
grandmascorner only Crazy In Love cover that matters tbh2nd-May-2013 06:34 pm (UTC)

sparklingsatine 2nd-May-2013 10:00 pm (UTC)
I much prefer this version:
jessickah 3rd-May-2013 04:25 pm (UTC)
IA. I loved the instrumental of the song but the singing definitely does not go well. :|
goldengal1193 2nd-May-2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
Listening now....
teaaet 2nd-May-2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
do we have any reviews of the film yet?
wheresandrae 2nd-May-2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
I've heard three people say its a total bomb so far
war_machine_rox 2nd-May-2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
Total bomb as in Australia bomb or total bomb as in Beautiful Creatures bomb?

Because I actually like Australia.
realityvsdreams 2nd-May-2013 05:50 pm (UTC)
reviews are embargoed but a few have popped up:

writer from Vogue: http://tomshone.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/review-great-gatsby-d-luhrmann.html?spref=tw

showbizspy not a review, review: http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/05/02/the-great-gatsby-is-a-snow-globe-of-a-movie-a-3d-pop-up-art-deco-postcard

Good, not great. Not terrible.
poopanna 2nd-May-2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
Currently listening. Thanks
goldengal1193 2nd-May-2013 05:24 pm (UTC)
I don't understand why everyone keeps making Back to Black out to be the worst cover ever. I actually like it. Whatever.
fancycarousel 2nd-May-2013 05:24 pm (UTC)
me too lol. i love it tbh
abbiemills 2nd-May-2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
I love it, negl.
killingabraham 2nd-May-2013 05:38 pm (UTC)
i really like it.
ledgers 2nd-May-2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
I fucking love it.
joliebelle 2nd-May-2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
It's decent on its own...I kinda want to hear Andre 3000 do the whole song
definitelybro 2nd-May-2013 05:53 pm (UTC)
It's growing on me and i can totally imagine it working well in the context of certain scenes that'll be in the movie
jonze_spike 2nd-May-2013 06:09 pm (UTC)
because people decided to canonize that turd amy winehouse
eaglefan2011 2nd-May-2013 06:11 pm (UTC)
i like it, andre's part grew on me

Edited at 2013-05-02 06:16 pm (UTC)
heartwilllead 2nd-May-2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
I don't understand why everyone keeps acting like people were saying it was the worst cover ever. Some people expressed their distaste of it and mostly explained why. Her fans have the worst persecution complex.
goldengal1193 2nd-May-2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
Because some people were in fact acting like it was the worst cover ever. What the hell.
grammaire 2nd-May-2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
People WERE though. Like the amount of times I read someone say it was offensive and disrespectful to Amy's memory was ridiculous.
ani_di_franco 2nd-May-2013 05:24 pm (UTC)
I have no desire to see this movie, but the soundtrack is amazing. I like Jack White's 'Love is Blindness'
redaodai 2nd-May-2013 05:24 pm (UTC)
That Gotye song, while amazing, is kind of old. I listened just to see if they remixed it a bit.
torontok 2nd-May-2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
Oh they didnt change it up? (stream sin't working for me)
not sure if I'm relieved or disappointed. The original Hearts a mess is flalwless but I wouldve like to see a new take on it.
teaaet 2nd-May-2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
ugh this rap music at the beginning, come the fuck on baz
killingabraham 2nd-May-2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
lol what's the problem?
bluebandit77 2nd-May-2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
what's wrong with rap?
lothlorienbow 2nd-May-2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
too 'black' obvsly
laev84 2nd-May-2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
I don't like it either. But I don't listen to rap or hip hop
jessickah 3rd-May-2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
It doesn't work at all.
poop_of_death Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one image2nd-May-2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
wheresandrae Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
this is so damn ugly
logan_lerman Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
all the ads for this movie are SO overly stylized but i kind of love it
joliebelle Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
I love it too...it's Baz's style
julietislimited Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
kind of hurts my eye x-x
yummyhead2toe Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
Stop. I love Art Deco.
excuseyoubitch Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
i like it..
no_urges Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
but gilded art deco designs are perfectly in line with the gaudy excesses of the roaring 20s depicted in the novel???
misscrystal Re: Let's talk about how ratchet hollywood has made this American Classic I have never read in one i2nd-May-2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
Well if u had read the book you would know the story is about greed jealousy infidelity and partying to excess during the roaring 20s. IMO this design is right on point.
logan_lerman 2nd-May-2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
i just listened to the whole thing and the only ones i don't like are back to black (it's growing on me tho) and bang bang
katyperry 2nd-May-2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
pls change ur icon
logan_lerman 2nd-May-2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
pls get help
annabolena 2nd-May-2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
tjohnn 2nd-May-2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
Coco O. - Where the Wind Blows, The xx - together, Lana - YAB >>>

the rest are forgettable.
katyperry 2nd-May-2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
So when can I expect a dl rip
logan_lerman 2nd-May-2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
ikr i want the deluxe tho
grotesque_xxx 2nd-May-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)

grotesque_xxx 2nd-May-2013 08:01 pm (UTC)

invernature 2nd-May-2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
that damn cowbell !
kae222 2nd-May-2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
I'm imagining Luhrmann's direction and Catherine Martin's costumes while I listen and I'm getting goosebumps. This movie is going to be an experience.
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