‘Gatsby’ soundtrack is ambitious, not great

by Elysa Gardner
USA TODAY

For his sure-to-be-fabulously-hip new take on “The Great Gatsby,” director Baz Luhrmann – collaborating with executive producer Jay-Z, executive music consultant Jeymes Samuel and executive music supervisor Anton Monsted – sought to nod to the Jazz Age that is the film’s setting while also acknowledging contemporary pop and hip-hop influences.

The better tracks (HH½ out of four), though, are the ones that don’t self-consciously try to evoke Gatsby’s period. Gotye’s “Hearts a Mess” is the clear standout, reconfirming his melodic, dynamic and textural savvy. Lana Del Rey’s more subtly atmospheric, aching “Young And Beautiful” and Jay-Z’s own percolating “100$ Bill” also prove superior to Emeli Sande and the Bryan Ferry Orchestra’s cover of “Crazy in Love” – a tepid swing/soul mash-up – and will.i.am’s kitschy “Bang Bang,” which suggests a lame burlesque routine updated for the EDM era.

Then again, listening to the mannered electronica of Sia’s “Kill and Run,” or to a pitch-shy Jack White emoting and screeching through U2’s “Love Is Blindness,” could make anyone nostalgic for music of the past.

© 2013 USA TODAY. All rights reserved.

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