Review: Various Artists - The Great Gatsby Soundtrack [Album]

Review: Various Artists - The Great Gatsby Soundtrack [Album]

Interscope Records // "With gasps of nostalgia injected into the modern heartbeats that makes this anthology of intrinsic fragments truly beautif

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Last Edited by: Ffion Davies May 5th, 2013.

The Great Gatsby has always been one of those books I’ve heard a great deal about, but never took to leaping in between its pages until very recently. The tale of the American Dream, the rich amidst the great depression and the twisting morality issues that intertwine to make this one of the most loved novels from the 20th century, and I would implore you to read it before running to watch the tale unfold on the silver screen.

With the film about to be showcased, the velvet curtains drawn back whilst Baz Lurhmann’s adaptation is splashed on the big screen, a festival for all senses is about to ensue, and the soundtrack is a perfect entre to the meshing of visual and sound, fiction and nostalgia, modern and classic. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet both completely kidnapped me, led me straight into the wonderful world of cinema, both becoming my favourite films of all time, and both sets of soundtracks giving me an everlasting connection with the drama, passion and utter brilliance both stories had to offer. Luhrmann knows how imperative the musical score is, an integral aural addition to any masterpiece, and I can say with as much gusto as possible, that The Great Gatsby has surpassed all expectations, which pretty darn high with the other two as a platform displaying Luhrmann’s ability.

It’s rather different to try and dissect a soundtrack without the visual accompaniment to add that extra layer of meaning to each track, but it’s also highly refreshing to be able to lose The Great Gatsby cinematography experience by just closing my eyes and let the music deliver the messages of each section of the novel. Luhrmann has blended the vintage Jazz age with a modern twist, the album turning from big band to a dramatic ballad to a theatrical drum and bass piece then slides straight into some 21st century hip hop and electronica. An essence of hot jazz throbs through the arteries of each track, with gasps of nostalgia injected into the modern heartbeats that makes this anthology of intrinsic fragments truly beautiful.

To keep in line with the cinematic, we’ll split the piece into scenes, the first being the colourful blitz of high intensity passion, waltzing tempo celebration tracks, followed by the seeping heartbreak that tears through the slow ballads, and end with the modern twist on much loved oldies.

Scene 1 – The Waltz


The Great Gatsby has some wonderful party scenes portrayed, especially at the beginning of the story where Gatsby has some weird yet highly intriguing gatherings. Some of the most quintessential jazz-esq pieces on the album that reflect the busy scorching jazz that was most probably played in Gatsby’s living room are Coco O of Quadron’s ‘Where the Wind Blows’ and Bryan Ferry ‘s ‘Love is the Drug’. Both tracks is a sensational big band swirl of seductive brass, rapid piano and sweltering percussion that pours out sepia memories from the 20’s. Both tracks are overflowing with authenticity and splendour, which instantly transports you back to the steam filled dance halls of yesterday.

LISTEN // Coco O of Quadron - ‘Where the Wind Blows’



With the party in full swing, Fergie’s ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody’ still has an air of feathers and smokey jazz whilst it’s busy instrumentation is clad in blistering modern EDM elements that’s refreshingly contemporary whilst Fergie’s intense vocals is drenched in diva qualities that some of the Jazz greats honed, and without them, where would female singers be today?

LISTEN // Fergie - ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody’




Scene 2 – The Slow Dance


Moving swiftly into the deep, dark shadows of the story where the ballads are in full force, we have some of the most gorgeous, rich and intense ballads to offer. With Gotye’s ‘Hearts a Mess’ a lush piece, his vocals trickling over an intricate piece of sinister melodies interwoven between echoing tribal rhythms and stormy strings. A heart wrenching display of confusion and torment love can bring, whilst Jack White’s ‘Love is Blindness’ demonstrates the heavy fury that can be unleashed in a whirlwind relationship. The dense musicality and lyrics dripping with desire is utterly spellbinding, enriched with that powerful Jack White voice.

LISTEN // Lana Del Rey - ‘Young and Beautiful’



Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young and Beautiful’ and Florence + the Machine’s ‘Over the Love’ are simply stunning. A haunting love song that harnesses the pain, sorrow and bleakness the loss of love can offer. Although I’m not a huge Del Rey fan, her vocals suit ‘Young and Beautiful’ to a tee, with sweeping, thick melodies and the archetypal elements that defines her music still embedded into the song, which adds an extra layer of delicateness to the track, whilst Florence Welch’s defining elements have also been sewn into ‘Over the Love’. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album, with Florence’s haunting narration something of fragile beauty that’s utterly breathtaking.

LISTEN // Florence + the Machine - 'Over the Love'



‘Kill and Run’ sung by Sia is another gorgeous ballad, but The xx’s ‘Together’ is something of mind blowing proportion. Their staple essence flows right through the song, adding a ghostly glow around the piece, a minimal interpretation of whispers that hover in the shadows of the seediest corners. Wisps of wonderment gently reverberate between each moment that’s encased between each note.

LISTEN // The xx - 'Together'



Scene 3 – The Modern Twist


Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is bursting with history, but it also has a contemporary flavour, with Nero’s drum and bass ‘Into the Past’ a brilliant intense and vivid display of drama, which adds pace and a vibrant gust to the collection. Jay-Z, who is also an executive producer of the film, has included his two cents by injecting ‘100$ Bill’ into the musical tapestry, which does add that extra modern zest with the addition of hip hop, yet it leaves an underwhelming taste due to its jarring nature compared to the rest of the flow of the soundtrack.

However, although genuine swinging jazz is displayed fascinatingly well in Emeli Sande + The Bryan Ferry Orchestra’s ‘Crazy in Love’, it’s weirdly also a modern old twist on a rather contemporary past hit, which is rather hard to get your head around. The interlacing of timeworn jazz attributes to a modern day favourite sung by a fresh vocal is a brilliant display of how music works to fashion the contemporary and the traditional to create a fabulous new piece. A perfect example of Baz Luhrmann’s genius imagination at its best.

LISTEN // Emeli Sande + The Bryan Ferry Orchestra - ‘Crazy in Love’



The End Credits (clangers)


When reading the track list I never would have thought there would be clangers in the album, especially these two. will.i.am’s ‘Bang Bang’ was a pretty grim attempt of inoculating some swing into his rather mundane pop rap house fusion. It seemed very forced, and uninspired, whilst Beyonce + Andre 3000’s rendition of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ was the worst track on the album by far. I was left aghast listening to such an offering, where the original was so stripped that it was barely recognisable and just utterly mind boggling take on such a well loved track. Therefore, due to the sheer amount of enjoyment I got from listening to the album in full, we’ll add these onto the end credits, swiftly!

With such a momentous musical offering, I’m salivating at the thought of watching The Great Gatsby, and cannot wait to fit each track with its visual counterpart as soon as the film hits the cinemas.

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