Monday, May 20, 2013


A Baz Luhrmann film is always filled with music, and his Great Gatsby adaptation continues his usual flair.  This time, Jay-Z is drafted to put together the ultra-modern soundtrack to accompany the period visuals and costumes, another of Luhrmann's trademarks.  That means heavy on the hit r'n'b/hip-hop blend, and Mr. Z drafts an A-list, including Beyonce, Andre 3000, Will.I.Am, Fergie, Kanye, Frank Ocean, and such.  There are big party songs, including the fun A Little Party Never Killed Nobody, as Fergie and Q-Tip bounce it up, and Beyonce and Mr. 3000 remake Amy Winehouse's Back To Black to good effect.  Will.I.Am appropriates the old Sonny and Cher hit Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) for his new Bang Bang, complete with a Dixieland band remixed into dancefloor pounding.  It's all over-the-top, senses-twisting stuff that must work well on the screen (haven't seen it yet), and certainly has the cool factor pretty high.

But the Jay and Baz show doesn't just rely on the star power of today's pop heavyweights.  Jack White was drafted for a echo-heavy, very dramatic reading of U2's Love Is Blindness, sounding remarkably like Bono at times, with this year's nastiest guitar break.  Gotye up the atmospheric quota, and Florence & the Machine get moody, like those bands do.  Then there's the appearance of Brian Ferry's latest project, his period jazz band, which of course fits in perfectly with Gatsby.  Ferry arranged the first cut, which is a re-make/re-model of Crazy In Love, that hit Beyonce/Jay-Z number from years back, here with the jazz group backing singer Emeli Sande.  It's interesting, but I enjoyed the Ferry-sung arrangement of his own Love Is The Drug even more, banjo, cornet, tuba and all.  I was pretty skeptical of this whole jazz project of Ferry's, which is his new album, but the results here are impressive.

Anyhoo, it's quite the production, weighing in at 75 minutes or so, and with a lot more going on than the average tossed-together soundtrack collection.  I wonder what a Baz Luhrmann film about the Civil War scored by T Bone Burnett would be like?  Nah.

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