A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
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.
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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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