How Great Will the ‘Gatsby’ Soundtrack Be?

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(from Billboard Magazine, May 8, 2013) The high-profile soundtrack, an artifact of the 80’s and 90’s, largely dormant during the last five years, is being revived by “The Great Gatsby,” Baz Luhrmann’s $100 million-plus adaption of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. With Jay-Z onboard as an executive music producer, the soundtrack is both star-laden and a gamble. If the soundtrack succeeds it’ll reinforce the idea that soundtracks take listeners on a journey reminiscent of films. The Interscope “Gatsby” release mirrors the film exactly in the running order of the film. “The Razzle Dazzle Upfront,” music supervisor Anton Monsted says, “and as the layers are peeled back on Gatsby’s character, the music enhances the storytelling, both in the songs and the score.” Lana Del Ray, among the artists who wrote songs for the picture, is the first to start the soundtrack. Her “Young and Beautiful” was released ahead of the album and is being used in trailers along with Beyonce and Andre 3000 singles. The ads drive home the fact that the story is set in the 20’s, but the music definitely is not. “From the start we wanted the music to capture the spirit of the 1920s, they were the Roaring 20s, not the dull 20s or dreary 20s,” Luhrmann says, noting that the music process began at the script stage. This meant incorporating hip-hop artist Jay-Z.

Interscope’s soundtrack didn’t require left over tracks to flush out the album, it worked like an old-school soundtrack, the sort of soundtrack that tends to still click with audiences. “It is important to me that music plays a role in the storytelling, I want a companion piece to the firm so that people can relive the experience of the film on their own,” Luhrmann said. Originally positioned as a prestige release during the holiday season, Warner Bros. moved the picture to early summer, allowing Luhrmann and the music team the credit of executive music consultant, to enhance the firm’s musical landscape.