Fresh off the success of his latest blockbuster Elvis, Baz Luhrmann continues to receive rave reviews for his brand of larger-than-life musicals. Like all Luhrmann companies, Elvis also features a star-studded soundtrack that merges the old with the new. Besides the usual rock n’ roll songs from Presley’s discography, the album also features contemporary talents such as Doja Cat, Diplo, Swae Lee, Eminem and many more.
Such is the diversity of Luhrmann’s soundtracks that they would include catchy original tracks as well as reprisals of pre-recorded iconic songs. Overall, the songs play an influential world-building role in his grand filmography.
ten Edge of Reality – Elvis
A first single from Elvis The soundtrack is an unlikely collaboration between the late rock n’ roll star and Australian experimental singer and producer Kevin Parker (who usually records under the stage name Tame Impala).
The song is a hypnotic fusion of Presley’s original and Parker’s usual brand of psychedelic electronica. Given that Baz Luhrmann’s film focuses on the dark side of showbiz as Colonel Parker exploits the titular protagonist, this remix of “Edge of Reality” is a haunting accompaniment to the musical biopic.
9 Young and Beautiful – The Great Gatsby
Whether it’s the novel or the film adaptation by Luhrmann, Gatsby the magnificent doubles as a satire on America’s wealthy and a tragic romance. Throughout the story, Jay Gatsby desperately pursues Daisy Buchanan even after she marries someone else. As Lana Del Rey sings, “Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful?”, Hopes for eternal romance blossom even though they weren’t meant to be.
The singer-songwriter has a sound and visual aesthetic close to the figures of the golden age of Hollywood. So his jazzy voice seems to be perfectly suited to a stylish period piece like Leonardo DiCaprio’s starring film.
8 Come what may – Moulin Rouge
Although originally intended for Romeo + Juliet“Come What May” turned out to be the love theme for Luhrmann’s jukebox musical drama red Mill. The song carries some Shakespearean themes as it delves into romantic passion and forbidden love.
Sung by the film’s protagonists Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, the song acts as their declaration of love despite the societal challenges they face. In the film, McGregor’s Christian character writes the song as part of his next play and uses it as a way to confess his feelings to Kidman’s Satine.
seven I kiss you – Romeo + Juliet
Baz Luhrmann’s point of view Romeo and Juliet was one of the most elegant Shakespearean film adaptations. The swords of the two rival families were replaced by guns, and contemporary music set the tone for the film. But what hadn’t changed was the passionate and fleeting romance that the protagonists of Romeo + Juliet imitate.
Des’ree’s R&B ballad “Kissing You” is the perfect track to showcase this love as the two characters cross paths at a ball. An added bonus is that Des’ree appears in the scene herself while performing the emotional melody. The slow jam overflows with optimism, contrasting well with the darker “Exit Music” which closes the film.
6 Love is in the Air – Strictly Ballroom
Drama and forbidden love were a recurring motif in Luhrmann’s early films from his directorial debut in 1992. Ballroom strictly. As the two leads try new dance methods and end up falling in love, John Paul Young’s disco hit “Love is in the Air” serves as a recurring theme song in their musical adventures.
Even though the original song dates back to 1977, this “Ballroom Mix” version brought Young back to popular speech and proved to be a chart-topping hit in Australia and the UK.
The dominating presence of Elvis Presley looms large in the Elvis soundtrack. But as Baz Luhrmann’s film shows, the rock n’ roll icon’s career wouldn’t have taken off without his influences from black soul, gospel and R&B artists. “Hound Dog,” for example, might be one of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs, but it was a cover of Big Mama Thornton’s original song.
Doja Cat’s needle drop on the “Vegas” soundtrack incorporates Thornton’s original vocals much like how “Jailhouse Rock” is sampled in the Eminem/Cee Lo Green collab “The King and I.” Even though the song plays around the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas, a city synonymous with Presley, the rapper also incorporates a narrative about a disappointing lover who didn’t deserve his affection. A flashy kick about a failed relationship, this makes for a classic Baz Luhrmann soundtrack single.
4 A little party never killed anyone – The Great Gatsby
As Jay Gatsby hides a shady past and pursues a hopeless romance, he is first introduced as a flamboyant, wealthy socialite who likes to throw lavish parties. This mask that Gatsby wears in front of society is highlighted by some of the soundtrack’s energetic numbers such as “Bang Bang” by Will.i.am and “A Little Party Never Killed Somebody” by Fergie and Q-Tip.
The latter is an electro-dance number that is sure to lift the listener’s morale from the very first verses. The beat drop is an electronic staple of 2010s club hits, providing an interesting contrast to Gatsby’s posh parties in 1920s America,
3 Problem – Elvis
In his take on Elvis Presley’s early years, Baz Luhrmann projects the singer as a young rebel who defied social norms with his African-American musical influences and daring dance moves. So it’s only appropriate for Austin Butler’s Elvis to sing “Trouble” when the other characters in Elvis like her manager, Colonel Parker asks her to stand in line.
Dressed in black and performing under FBI surveillance, this rule-breaking young Elvis is in the mood for “trouble.” With Butler providing the vocals himself, this is easily an iconic version that emulates Presley’s signature heavy vocals and bluesy “stop time” guitar riff that was popularized by artists like Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. .
2 The Ballad of the Drover – Australia
Whether it’s “Tiny Dancer” playing in almost known or an original song by The Lion King, Sir Elton John’s soundtrack credits usually never disappoint. In Luhrmann’s Period Adventure Romance Australiathe British singer lends his voice for the closing track “The Drover’s Ballad”.
Hugh Jackman stars as “The Drover”, a local rancher in Australia who helps save cattle and land inherited by an English aristocrat played by Nicole Kidman. John’s song is meant to tell the story of The Drover through metaphorical lyrics, summarizing the character’s motivations.
1 Exit Music (For A Film) – Romeo + Juliet
Radiohead fans will remember “Exit Music (For A Film)” as a track from their iconic third studio album Ok Computer. However, it was Luhrmann who convinced the British band to write the song for the end of their Shakespearean drama.
As reported by Streamer, Luhrmann approached Thom Yorke’s outfit during their 1996 tour. Offering them a chance to contribute to the soundtrack, he even showed them the rough cut of the final 30 minutes. The result was a solitary song that signals the calm before the storm. The lyrics are also apparently about the fights of a couple on the run, much like the hapless star-crossed lovers in the movie.
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