Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby

Music review by
Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media
Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby Music Poster Image
Eclectic homage to Jazz Age has edgy songs, mature themes.

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Messages are mixed, but there are positive takeaways. Because themes of violence, corruption, greed, and despair run central here, the soundtrack could be interpreted as a warning against such behaviors, as evidenced in Jay-Z's opening "100$ Bill," where he mulls over the pitfalls of power. Similarly, in "No Church in the Wild," Kanye West raps, "When we die the money we can't keep / But we probably spend it all because the pain ain't cheap." Whereas songs like "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" by Fergie, Q-Tip, and GoonRock glorify partying, there are also messages of real love and longing on the soundtrack, like in the xx's track "Together" and Nero's "Into the Past."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though remorse is found in some songs, there are no positive role models.

Violence

A few songs have explicit violence. In "100$ Bill," Jay-Z raps, "Semi-automatic or revolver, semi-automatic I'll solve 'em." In Sia's track "Kill and Run," she sings, "Kill and run, kill and run / I'm one of the dirty guns / Kill and run, kill and run / A bullet through your heart."

Sex

Sexually suggestive lines include Coco O's lyric about "making love in the moonlight" in "Where the Wind Blows." "No Church in the Wild" also has sexually explicit lyrics: "Thinking 'bout the girl in all leopard / Who was rubbing the wood like Kiki Shepherd."

Language

The three most explicit songs are Jay-Z's "100$ Bill," where he uses the "N" word, "f--k", and "s--t," Beyonce and Andre 3000's cover of "Back to Black," where the word "d--k" is used in a sexual way, and Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaboration "No Church in the West," which uses "f--k" and "hell." will.i.am's "Bang Bang" has the word "damn."

Consumerism

This soundtrack promotes The Great Gatsby film. A few songs warn about the dangers of excessive wealth, and within them there are a few brands mentioned. "Rolls Royce" is mentioned in "No Church in the Wild" and in his rap about the corruption of power, Jay-Z sings about "Porsches." "Tom and Jerry and Scooby-Doo" are referenced in will.i.am's "Bang Bang."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are multiple drug mentions, including cocaine and weed, in "No Church in the Wild" and "$100 Bill." In "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" there are lyrics about drinking. There's a drug reference in "Back to Black" that goes "I love blow and you love puff / Life is like a pipe." Also, in the Florence + the Machine track "Over the Love" she sings about a "champagne-drunken ride home."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Great Gatsby soundtrack is an eclectic collection of hip-hop, alternative rock, pop, electronica, and jazz that accompanies Baz Luhrmann's movie, which is an adaptation of the 1920s novel. Producer Jay-Z threaded elements of the Jazz Age through a collection of contemporary tracks by artists including Sia, Beyonce Knowles, the xx, Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, Kanye West, Jack White, will.i.am, Gotye, Lana Del Ray, and more. The soundtrack comes with a Parental Advisory because of three explicit tracks -- Jay-Z's "100$ Bill," Beyonce and Andre 3000's cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," and Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaboration "No Church in the West" -- which have language including f--k, s--t, the "N" word, "d--k," and subject matter about drugs, sex, and violence. Overall, this is a dark, diverse, and well-done record with mature themes and some strong language. There is an edited version available.

User Reviews

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Teen, 16 years old Written byCloudIsC00L723 August 4, 2013

Artful soundtrack best for mature teens.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but despite that, I love this soundtrack. It's such an interesting combination of modern sound and 1920's sound. Pl... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNewenglandprepster June 7, 2013

Who doesn't love Gatsby?

I love Gatsby! It is Jay Z at his best! 100 dollar Bills!

What's the story?

MUSIC FROM BAZ LUHRMANN'S FILM THE GREAT GATSBY is a sprawling collection of covers and original songs produced by Jay-Z to accompany the movie. The songs represent a wide range of genres, from hip-hop, alternative rock, electronica, pop, big band, and jazz. There are a few covers, like Jack White's rueful take on U2's "Love Is Blindness," Beyonce and Andre 3000's cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," and Bryan Ferry Orchestra and Emile Sande's vintage-sounding take on Beyonce's "Crazy in Love." Bits of dialogue from the movie are also included in the recording, giving the album a narrative that aligns with that of the film.

Is it any good?

Jay-Z is a masterful producer and arranger; in less capable hands, this soundtrack would come off as a disjointed mess. Though the contemporary songs sample from a wide palette of genres and veer from bombastic and dance-y to somber and reflective, Jay-Z keeps the decadent 1920s tone of the movie loosely intact. The result is a vintage-inspired collection with an opulent sheen -- an accurate reflection of the film. The song selections represent the greed, heartbreak, and despair of the characters created by F. Scott Fitzgerald himself, and Jay-Z's deliberate sequencing and slick production make this an apt counterpart to director Baz Luhrmann's modernized cinematic vision. Ultimately, this is an artfully created soundtrack with a few standout songs and welcome surprise covers and collaborations from an assorted sampling of today's musical talent.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the soundtrack represents the movie. What are some of the themes present in both?

  • Parents can talk to kids about the music of the 1920s. In what songs are elements of the Jazz Age most pronounced? Why do you think Jay-Z chose to include contemporary-sounding music as well?

  • Compare the cover songs to their original counterparts. Do you prefer U2's or Jack White's "Love Is Blindness"? What about Amy Winehouse's original or Beyonce and Andre 3000's cover of "Back to Black"?

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