The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film

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The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released May 6, 2013 (2013-05-06)
Recorded 2012–13
Genre Hip hop, jazz,[1] pop, alternative rock[2]
Label Interscope
Producer Baz Luhrmann, Anton Monsted, Jay-Z (executive)
Singles from The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film
  1. "Young and Beautiful"
    Released: April 23, 2013
  2. "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)"
    Released: May 17, 2013
  3. "Bang Bang"
    Released: June 26, 2013

The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film (also known as Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby) is the soundtrack to the 2013 film The Great Gatsby, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the same name, released through Interscope Records on May 6, 2013.[3] The album was produced by Baz Luhrmann and Anton Monsted, while Jay-Z served as the album's executive producer. The soundtrack includes new music by Fergie, Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, Jay-Z, Nero, The xx, and will.i.am. Also featured are several cover versions, including Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" by Beyoncé and André 3000, Roxy Music's "Love Is the Drug" by Bryan Ferry with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" by Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, and U2's "Love Is Blindness" by Jack White. "Young and Beautiful" performed by Lana Del Rey served as the album's lead single and it was released on April 23, 2013.

Development[edit]

Jay-Z (pictured in 2011) served as the soundtrack's executive producer and performed the original song "100$ Bill".

Jay-Z served as an executive producer for both the album and the film.[4][5] The album artwork features a small circular icon with "JZ" inside it, directly below the album's name. He and film director Baz Luhrmann worked together for two years, "translating the Jazz Age sensibility of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel into the musical equivalents of our own times, through the blending of hip-hop, traditional jazz and other contemporary musical textures".[1] On his approach to the project, Luhrmann said: "The question for me in approaching Gatsby was how to elicit from our audience the same level of excitement and pop cultural immediacy toward the world that Fitzgerald did for his audience? And in our age, the energy of jazz is caught in the energy of hip-hop."[6] Luhrmann also revealed that Jeymes Samuel from The Bullitts was one of the people he worked with for the soundtrack, serving as the film's Executive Music Consultant. He further described his collaborations with the producers of the album during an interview saying, "[Jeymes is] a really great friend of [Jay's] and just a unique human being. He defines energy; he defines spirit and he's a pop cultural genius. And I worked with Anton Monsted ... a great little team."[7] The duo also worked with composer Craig Armstrong, who scored Luhrmann's films Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001),[5] and executive music supervisor Anton Monsted.[8]

The soundtrack contains both new music and cover versions. Fergie, Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, Jay-Z,[9] The xx, and will.i.am contributed original songs.[5][6] Covers include Winehouse's "Back to Black" by Beyoncé and André 3000,[10] Roxy Music's "Love Is the Drug" by Bryan Ferry with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" by Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, and U2's "Love Is Blindness" by Jack White. Del Rey said of her experience contributing to the project: "It was an honor to work with Baz Luhrmann on his amazing adaptation of one of the most extraordinary books ever written. The movie is highly glamorous and exciting; Rick Nowels and I were thrilled to write the song for the film."[11]

On April 2, 2013, Amy Winehouse's father used his Twitter profile to reveal that Beyoncé had not informed him of her plans to cover "Back to Black" and that he wanted income from the song to go to his Amy Winehouse Foundation. He wrote, "I don't know this but what if Beyonce gave £100,000 to foundation. Do you know how many kids that would help? Just putting it out there."[12] He later added, "Let me repeat. This is the first I have heard of Beyonce doing Amy's song."[13] Kia Makarechi of The Huffington Post noted that Beyoncé did not use the song as a personal record and thus it was "slightly curious" for Winehouse to request for her to pay out.[13] Winehouse later used his Twitter account to write "I like Beyoncé's cover and have no probs."[14] However, upon hearing the full-length track, he wrote on his Twitter profile, "I just heard the Andre part of Back to Black. Terrible. He should have let Beyonce do it all."[15]

Promotion[edit]

"Young and Beautiful", co-written and performed by Lana Del Rey (pictured in 2013), served as the album's lead single.

On April 4, 2013, Interscope and Warner Bros. announced the track listing for the album.[8] The same day, a new trailer for the film featured previews of three songs from the soundtrack ("Back to Black", "Over the Love", and "Young and Beautiful").[1][16] One MTV contributor wrote that the trailer spotlights the relationship between two of the film's characters, "but it's really only here to show off the movie's soundtrack".[17] A six-minute sampler of the soundtrack which contained snippets of the songs was released on April 16, 2013 on YouTube[18][19] excluding "Back to Black" and "100$ Bill".[20] The whole album was made available for streaming through NPR on May 2, 2013.[21][22]

Several songs were released in full prior to the release of the album. "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" performed by Fergie, Q-Tip and GoonRock premiered on Rolling Stone '​s official website on April 15, 2013.[23] Florence and the Machine's "Over the Love" premiered on GQ '​s official website on April 17, 2013.[24] "Together" by The xx and "Into the Past" by Nero premiered on April 24, 2013.[25] Knowles' and André 3000's cover of "Back to Black" was premiered by Mark Ronson on his East Village Radio show on April 26, 2013.[26] Sia's "Kill and Run" also appeared online a few days later.[27] Emeli Sandé's cover of "Crazy in Love" was premiered online on April 30, 2013 through SoundCloud.[28] On May 2, 2013, will.i.am performed his song "Bang Bang" on the twelfth season of the show American Idol to promote the film, while the final four contestants covered Sandé's version of "Crazy in Love".[29][30]

Pre-orders for digital distribution for the album began on April 23.[6] Digital and physical copies of the 14-track album will be available beginning May 7 at various retailers, including Starbucks in the United States and Canada; a 17-track deluxe edition will be available exclusively at Target stores and available digitally through iTunes.[1] It was also announced that Third Man Records will release the vinyl deluxe edition of the soundtrack as well as 7" single releases of several songs.[31] The double LP deluxe version of the album will be on "metalized" vinyl where the first disc is platinum, the second is golden, and they will be packaged in laser-cut birch record jackets "riveted to aluminum spines".[32] The materials were chosen to "showcase the Art Deco-meets-modern style, classic meets cutting edge, which is the essence of The Great Gatsby film".[32] Pre-sale for the album started on May 10, through the label's website, and 100 copies will be released at Third Man's Nashville shop the same day.[32] Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" served as the album's first single.[5] The song premiered on SoundCloud on April 22, 2013.[33]

Composition[edit]

"While we acknowledge, as Fitzgerald phrased it, ‘the Jazz Age,’ and this is the period represented on screen, we — our audience — are living in ‘the Hip-Hop Age’ and want our viewers to feel the impact of modern-day music the way Fitzgerald did for the readers of his novel at the time of its publication."

Baz Luhrmann on the music's theme[16]

The Daily Telegraph described the film's music as a "decidedly modern mix of 21st century rap, rock and pop".[4] Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone commented that the songs in the album have "a consistent mood of noirish, doomed romance".[34] Several songs on the album feature influences from electronic music which was also present in the soundtrack for Romeo + Juliet, also produced by Luhrmann.[35] Other musical elements which are featured on the albums include electronica, hip-hop and rock music with jazz-age sounds.[36] Kathy McCabe of The Daily Telegraph noted the inclusion of "orchestral flourishes" in most of the songs.[37] Instrumentally, horn-driven sounds with loping bass beats and house music synths are used in the songs.[38]

The themes in the songs include partying, murder and heartache as well as "the story's point home – illusionary love, the excess of the leisure classes, the curse of money" as stated by Cristina Jaleru of The Associated Press.[36] Entertainment Weekly '​s Adam Carlson concluded that the soundtrack's songs reveal that it is set 100 years ago. He noted that it contains "all honking brass and a preference for tempos that slide up the scale like liquor, getting hot just as they hit the chorus".[21] Logan Smithson of the webzine PopMatters commented that an important thing for a soundtrack was to maintain a cohesive sound: a general theme to piece the tracks together and make it sound like a single piece of work rather than a collection of songs. He further noted that the soundtrack accomplished this feat although the artists came from a variety of genres and backgrounds.[39] He further noted, "The Great Gatsby Soundtrack does its job of capturing the sound of the Roaring '20s. A fusion of horns brings the era to life with a modern twist. Jazzy melodies are captured by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra. Some songs certainly have a neo-soul vibe going, reminiscent of the late Amy Winehouse."[39]

Music and lyrical content[edit]

In this 30 second sample of the pop ballad, "Young and Beautiful", the lyrics, "Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?" that embody the refrain can be heard.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The opening song, "100$ Bill" by Jay-Z contains a chopped and screwed beat, electro-rap elements and is written in the perspective of a modern-day Gatsby.[35][40][41] It begins with a speech by Leonardo DiCaprio, while throughout the song Jay-Z is backed by samples of a children's choir and a '20s jazz horn sample.[38][42] In the song, he raps about being remembered and the "pitfalls" of wealth as well as comparing rich people from the 1920s and the 21st century.[34][43] "Back to Black", written by Mark Ronson and Winehouse, originally appeared on her 2006 album of the same name.[44] It was the last song which was added to the album after Jay-Z's suggestion to Luhrmann to include it after his demand of a darker moment on the album. It is a slower version than the original with chopped-and-screwed elements, a dark and haunting sound and instrumentally complete by a guitar, moody synth and electro bleeps.[7][27][42] "Bang Bang" performed by will.i.am contains a sample of the jazz composition Charleston (1923) and features Louis Armstrong-inspired vocals along with hiNRG, EDM and electropop elements.[35][37][42] It contains elements of hip-hop and 1920s-style dance music as well as a use of ukulele.[34][38] "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" is a swing, hip-hop and dubstep song which references the viewing parties held by Gatsby from the novel.[21][45][46] "Young and Beautiful" was written by Del Rey and Rick Nowels. Musically, it is a lush ballad which contains Del Rey's sweeping vocals accompanied by dreamy strings and canned percussion.[47] Lyrically, the song is written from the perspective of Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby's lover,[48] and it talks about being forever young, going to parties and nostalgia in the vulnerable lyrics "Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?".[49][50]

Beyoncé performs a cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black"; her own song "Crazy in Love" is covered by Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra.

"Love Is the Drug" originally appeared on Roxy Music's 1975 album Siren; the song was written by band members Ferry and Andy Mackay.[51] It contains jazz elements trumpet wails and skittering drums as well as honky-tonk, bass sax, sleazy strings and "oohs".[41][42][46] "Over the Love" performed by Florence and the Machine is written from the perspective of Buchanan. It contains references of the yellow dress worn by her and the green light that hovers outside her home on the dock in East Egg which were inspired by the novel.[24] Instrumentally, it is complete with a light piano and Welch's vocals which use melisma.[52][53] "Where the Wind Blows" contains soul vocals performed by Coco O. and contains an old-time piano sampling with whirring drum 'n bass circular beat and jazzy keys.[37][46] Osenlund of Slant Magazine commented that the instrumentals of the song are similar to a Cole Porter classic, but the vocals to Jennifer Hudson's, while Jim Farber of Daily News noted that she sings with doll vocals of Betty Boop.[38][54] "Crazy in Love", credited to Beyoncé, Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), Rich Harrison, and Eugene Record, originally appeared on her 2003 album Dangerously in Love.[6][55] It was chosen to be included on the album as it reminded the producer of the film to a character from the novel and it was a blend between the modern and traditional music complete with the jazz band and Sandé's vocals.[7] The version included on the album is a swing and soul mash-up.[19][56] The song "Together" by The xx contains skeletal electro-pop elements and a slow atmosphere.[20][57] It contains dark and insistent backing, metronomic beat and breathy, deep vocals which climax with an orchestral swell.[37] As stated by Thomas Corner of Chicago Sun-Times, "[it] evokes the narrative's palpable desperation in its hushed tone and nagging heart-monitor beat."[58]

"Hearts a Mess" first appeared on Gotye's second studio album, Like Drawing Blood (2006).[59] It is a neo-lounge ballad with clunking, treated backbone which were compared Gotye's own "Somebody That I Used to Know" song.[34][53] It is instrumentally complete with strings, martial beats, horns and Wouter "Wally" De Backer's vocals as stated by Lucy Jones of NME.[42][53] According to Philip Cosores of Paste magazine, three vocal styles of Gotye are featured in the song, "the hushed and earnest songwriter, the Sting-esque frontman with remarkable range to handle the chorus, and then the human and battered character of the song's latter moments".[53] "Love Is Blindness" was originally written by Bono with music by U2 and appeared on the band's 1991 album Achtung Baby.[6][60] The rock-hip-hop version on the album contains drum beats, "piercing yelps...and a gut-poking bass line".[38][42] "Into the Past" is a slow-tempo song performed by Nero and contains dubstep elements and strings.[61] "Kill and Run", which contains electronica elements and is performed by Sia[56] was compared with Adele's songs, most notably with "Skyfall" due to its lush and languid sound and because "[it] slowly builds to a crescendo that hits all the right emotional notes without becoming overwrought" while being backed by strings.[27][58] "No Church in the Wild", which was originally included on Watch the Throne (2011),[62] appeared on the deluxe edition of the album.[63] It features vocals by Kanye West and includes techno-rap elements.[36]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (68/100)[64]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]
American Songwriter (3.5/5)[65]
Consequence of Sound 3/5 stars[46]
Paste (Positive)[53]
Pitchfork Media (4.0/10)[66]
PopMatters (6/10)[39]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[34]
Slant Magazine 2/5 stars[67]
USA Today 2.5/4 stars[56]

The soundtrack received a generally favorable reception. Prior to the release of the album The Philadelphia Inquirer complimented Jay-Z for assembling a talented and diverse musical roster.[68] R. Kurt. Osenlud of Slant Magazine wrote that the album was "easily the most anticipated album of its kind in years" and further described its sound as an "extraordinary melding of vintage and contemporary sounds". Osenlud further commented that the soundtrack was a "literate answer to the mash-up, another hip and highbrow upgrade in both sights and sounds" for the composer Craig Armstrong.[54] Upon its release the album garnered positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 68, based on 7 reviews which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[64] Allmusic's David Jeffries praised the album, writing in his review, "Buying into Luhrmann's vision is always the issue, but here, the music is crafted enough, inspired enough, and deep enough that it's worth diving into without reservations. Luckily, you can wring all that disappointment and despair out of your fine, stylish suit after surfacing."[3] Elysa Gardner of USA Today noted that the better songs on the soundtrack "are the ones that don't self-consciously try to evoke Gatsby's period".[56] Jim Farber of Daily News question why the album didn't include blues, a sound as key to the ’20s as jazz. He further concluded, "More, you could accuse the modern artists of indulging in a bit of dress-up for these tracks. Even so, they hit the desired party tone, one that, even 90 years later, still has sass."[38] Paula Mejia from Consequence of Sound concluded in her review that "Great Gatsby soundtrack resonates like the dinky Grammy sampler album they give to us plebeians who aren't important enough to attend the ceremony anyway. We'll take what we can get, but it doesn't mean we're completely satisfied with it either."[46] Philip Cosores of Paste magazine noted that the songs on the album were not related to hip-hop and further described the music on the album as middling, neither offensive nor revolutionary, with memorable moments and forgettable ones.[53] Kelly Dearmore of American Songwriter wrote that the soundtrack was "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."[65]

Thomas Corner of Chicago Sun-Times described the album as "anachronistic hootenanny", further writing, "With nods to the roaring '20s without attempts at replicating them, most performances are restrained and pull at the various taut threads of Gatsby's unraveling."[58] PopMatters' Logan Smithson wrote in his review that "Gatsby manages to avoid the major mistake that many soundtracks have, which is not keeping a uniform style throughout the album. At the same time, The Great Gatsby Soundtrack also offers variation, though it comes at a small price. Some of the artists that get a share of the spotlight don’t live up to the standout performances of the album. Regardless, this is a soundtrack worthy of a good film."[39] Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine gave a mixed review for the soundtrack writing that "The Great Gatsby speaks on Duke and Ella's behalf when it says, 'It don't mean a thing.' Period."[67] Drew McWeeny of HitFix gave the album a negative review saying that it was "probably the weakest for any of the Luhrmann films", further describing it as "a non-stop wallpaper" of guest appearances by people who are famous in the present and "none of it sticks".[69] Katie Hasty of the same publication also gave a negative review for the album, describing it as a "vehicular manslaughter" which combines different music elements "in ways that demean all genres".[70] She further commented that the struggle of now-ness "is pertinent to one of the soundtrack’s few achievements" and concluded "the elegance of suggestion from its better songs is disrupted by its obnoxious neighbors".[70] Bloomberg L.P.'s Mark Beech gave the album a similarly negative review, heavily criticizing the production by Jay-Z and referring to the album as "a commercial shotgun marriage that threatens to go awry, damaging the credibility of both the movie and the brands".[71] He did praise the track "Young and Beautiful" and said "If it were all this good, 'Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film: 'The Great Gatsby' would be 4-stars. In the event, it's barely 1-star."[71]

Chart performance[edit]

Although it was predicted by Billboard that the album would debut at number two on the Billboard 200 chart with first week sales of over 100,000 copies,[72] it sold 137,000 copies in its first week.[73] 119,000 copies of the total copies sold in the first week were based on digital downloads which made the album debut at number one on the Digital Albums chart. With this the album gained the largest digital sales week for a soundtrack.[73] The album became the second best-selling soundtrack album of 2013 in the United States, with 538,000 copies sold for the year.[74]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "100$ Bill" (performed by Jay Z) Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, Evan Mast E*vax 3:20
2. "Back to Black" (performed by Beyoncé x André 3000) Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson Hollywood Holt 3:21
3. "Bang Bang" (performed by will.i.am; additional vocals by Shelby Spalione) will.i.am, James P. Johnson, Cecil Mack, Sonny Bono will.i.am 4:39
4. "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" (performed by Fergie, Q-Tip and GoonRock) Stacy Ferguson, David Listenbee, Kamaal Fareed, Andrea Martin, Jordan Orvash, Maureen Ann McDonald, Francesca Richard, Andre Smith, Alexander Scott GoonRock, Orvash (co.), Richard (vocal) 4:01
5. "Young and Beautiful" (performed by Lana Del Rey) Lana Del Rey, Rick Nowels Nowels, Al Shux (add.) 3:56
6. "Love Is the Drug" (performed by Bryan Ferry with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra) Ferry, Andrew MacKay Ferry, Rhett Davies 2:41
7. "Over the Love" (performed by Florence + the Machine) Florence Welch, SBTRKT, Stuart Hammond, Kid Harpoon Emile Haynie, Kid Harpoon, Baz Luhrmann 4:21
8. "Where the Wind Blows" (performed by Coco O. of Quadron) Martin, Dan Doughtery, Phil Ponce Martin 3:50
9. "Crazy in Love" (performed by Emeli Sandé with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra) Beyoncé Knowles, Shawn Carter, Eugene Record, Rich Harrison Jon Brion 3:08
10. "Together" (performed by The xx) Jamie Smith, Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft Smith 5:25
11. "Hearts a Mess" (performed by Gotye) Walter De Backer, Irving Burgie, William Attaway Gotye 6:04
12. "Love Is Blindness" (performed by Jack White) Paul Hewson, David Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr. White 3:18
13. "Into the Past" (performed by Nero) Joseph Ray, Daniel Stephens, Alana Watson, Craig Armstrong Stephens, Ray 5:17
14. "Kill and Run" (performed by Sia) Sia Furler, Chris Braide Braide, Oliver Kraus 3:35
Total length:
56:56

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby adapted from Allmusic.[75]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[106] Gold 35,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[107] Gold 10,000*
United States (RIAA)[108] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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