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Music Review

Jay-Z: 'Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby' - Album review

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Released on Wednesday, May 8 2013

'The Great Gatsby' soundtrack artwork
There's more than a hint of Jay Gatsby about Jay-Z, the Brooklyn hip-hop star who built a $500 million music empire from humble beginnings. It's fitting, then, that he's such an integral part of Baz Luhrmann's fresh adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's American classic The Great Gatsby. Through Luhrmann's lens this Great American Novel is a kaleidoscopic cacophony of sound, colour and cameras sweeping through decadent West Egg parties.

Literary purists may question this Jay-Z curated soundtrack, which pulls in contemporary artists crossing varying pop genres, but period authenticity is not Gatsby's MO. Luhrmann's take on the material is as hyperreal as it gets, yet the spirit and excitement of the Jazz Age is filtered through the use of modern music superstars.

Jay-Z himself kicks off the soundtrack (and movie) in style with '100$ Bill', while Beyoncé and André 3000 team up on the much-debated cover of Amy Winehouse's' 'Back to Black' - its pulsing, distorted intro underscoring an on-screen montage of Gatsby's social climb. Both, surprisingly, are eclipsed by Fergie's energetic 'A Little Party Never Killed Nobody', in the background at a lavish party held to tempt Carey Mulligan's Daisy Buchanan across the harbour and into Gatsby's arms.

Lana Del Rey, the artist on the album who perhaps best encapsulates the "within and without" nature of Fitzgerald's characters, delivers the pained slow-mover 'Young and Beautiful'. It's a track Luhrmann keeps looping back to (in many ways the film's anthem) but one you feel is a little too snoozy to be another 'My Heart Will Go On'-style success.

Other stand-outs include Jack White's U2 cover 'Love Is Blindness', Florence + the Machine's 'Over the Love' (the lyric "green light in my eyes" evoking Gatsby's yearning for his lost love) and Sia's haunting closer 'Kill and Run'. Not so successful is Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra's cover of 'Crazy in Love', which initially sounds like a cheap karaoke backing track before the vocals kick in.

Like Luhrmann's adaptation this is something of a mixed bag, but there's no doubt it'll be the perfect soundtrack to any Gatsby-themed dress-up party.


Tracks to download: '100$ Bill', 'A Little Party Never Killed Nobody', 'Kill and Run'
If you like this, you'll like: Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Kanye West

Watch a Great Gatsby music featurette below:

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