It’s been talked about for weeks and we’ve revered in the release of each track as it surfaced online, but now the all-star soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby is finally here. Graced by the likes of some of today’s biggest stars, including Beyonce, Lana Del Rey and Florence Welch, with the expert curation of Jay-Z, the compilation seems like one of those too big to fail projects. Which, of course, often portends failure. So how did this one fare? Well, based on the reviews we’ve rounded up, it depends on whom you ask. See what the critics had to say below.
:: Huffington Post liked most of the album: “The Jay-Z-produced musical roller coaster mixes electronica, hip-hop and rock with jazz-age sounds into a breathy, sexy, dangerous, electric result. The songs, which meander in themes among partying, murder and heartache, mostly set their buttons on eerie and sad. The album is full of new cuts, previously released ones and covers. They all work, except for Emeli Sande’s strange version of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love,’ which fails to combine modern sound with Charleston.”
:: Slant agreed and praised Jay-Z’s efforts: ”Executive produced by Jay-Z (who also holds a producing credit for the film), the Gatsby soundtrack seems, on the whole, to be an extraordinary melding of vintage and contemporary sounds, fulfilling Jay-Z and Luhrmann’s goal to ‘translate Jazz Age sensibilities’ into something that can speak to, and enchant, the modern listener.”
:: MSN Music thought it completely missed the mark: “Big names (Fergie, Jack White) litter this soundtrack, but the payoff is often underwhelming: Take the loping, cringeworthy Beyoncé and Andre 3000 cover of Amy Winehouse‘s ‘Back to Black.’ (No, please, take it.)”
:: All Music had mixed thoughts: “With Jay-Z and the Bullittsas executive producers, Luhrmann’s soundtrack to his lavish adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous 1925 novel is smart, savvy, and more than just a Jazz Age-meets-iPod Age mash-up, although sometimes, it is just the latter, like when will.i.am makes the Charleston flappers go electro with his entirely obvious and irresistibly fun ‘Bang Bang.’ Buying into Luhrmann’s vision is always the issue, but here, the music is crafted enough, inspired enough, and deep enough that it’s worth diving into without reservations.”
:: Rolling Stone were also undecided: “Not everything works. Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young and Beautiful’ is meant to be one of the album’s centerpieces; instead, it’s inert, a drag. But the LP conjures a consistent mood of noirish, doomed romance – and succeeds, in songs like Will.i.am’s lovably doofy ‘Bang Bang,’ in mashing up hip-hop with 1920s-style dance music.”
:: EW felt the set tried too hard: ”What results is very good (Lana) and very bad (Florence) and very, very interesting, as is the nature of projects that overflow with talented people all working at once. Also: very period. If you didn’t know the movie is set almost 100 years ago, the soundtrack shouts it out at you, all honking brass and a preference for tempos that slide up the scale like liquor, getting hot just as they hit the chorus.”
:: While NY Daily News were also left wanting more: ”Like all multi-artist soundtracks, this one’s a mixed bag, from the high of Jack White doing a rock-hip-hop rave-up of U2’s ‘Love Is Blindness,’ to the low of a comatose Lana Del Rey drooling through ‘Young and Beautiful.’ Given the disc’s length, it’s surprising it found no room for blues, a sound as key to the ’20s as jazz.”