Florence Welch


Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine has given us iconic hits like "Dog Days Are Over" and sleeper gems like "Seven Devils," but she's now utilizing a brand new skill-set.

The singer will write the music and lyrics for a musical version of The Great Gatsby. She will collaborate on the lyrics with Thomas Bartlett (AKA Doveman), who co-wrote Sufjan Stevens' Oscar-nominated track "Mystery of Love" and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok.

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Whatever you feel about Baz Luhrman's skill as a director, you have to admit the man can assemble a soundtrack. Romeo + Juliet brought operatic glamor to the '90s SoCal punk scene, while Moulin Rouge's bold remixing of 40 years of pop songs presaged an entire Internet subculture. In honor of the Aussie auteur's latest offering, we're breaking down the Great Gatsby original soundtrack song by song!

Jay-Z, "100$ Bill"

Jay-Z likes to repeat his origin story on a normal day—do you think he'd really pass up the chance to tell it again when kicking off the Gatsby soundtrack? The reference might be too on-the-nose even for Jay, though; in retelling his rags-to-riches journey the rapper chooses instead to compare himself to some less-obvious strivers, from Marvin Gaye to Joseph Kennedy. Still, he packs the song full of clips of Gatsby dialogue; we know who we're supposed to be thinking of. It's nothing we haven't heard before from Jay, but the track's worthwhile if only for the return of his terse machine-gun cadence.

Popdust Says: 3.0/5

Andre 3000 and Beyonce, "Back to Black"

We covered this one last weekend but on fourth and fifth listens, more pleasures reveal themselves. Our most recent: the way Andre shifts his voice from multi-tracked falsetto to groovy bass and back again. Nervy greatness.

Popdust Says: 4.0/5

Will.i.am, "Bang Bang"

Credit to Will.i.am for going against his steampunk fantasies and tackling the first of this album's period songs. For "Bang Bang" the former Black Eyed Pea merges Jazz Age ukelele to EDM thumps, and adds a little bit of Nancy Sinatra to boot. Surprise: It works, for the most part. The lyrics are incredibly dumb (as usual) and there are the places where the seams still show, but you'll forget all that the moment Will starts scatting.

Popdust Says: 4.5/5

Fergie, Q-Tip and Goonrock, "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)"

With "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody," four tracks in, we finally get what seems to be the soundtrack's mission statement. The animating impulse here is the desire to make another "We No Speak Americano," chopping and screwing old-timey sounds (Fergie even sings like a 1920s gangster's moll) and fitting them with 21st-century dance beats. As with "Bang Bang," the formula basically holds up here too, even if the result is a slightly more generic dance-floor anthem than the one Will.i.am came up with. (Chalk that up to the difference between Will and Goonrock, the man behind many of LMFAO's hits.)

Popdust Says: 3.5/5

Lana Del Rey, "Young and Beautiful"

Beautiful, rich, melodramatic and a touch passive—Lana Del Rey basically is Daisy Buchanan. So it's no surprise then that LDR would choose to sing one of the Gatsby soundtrack's character songs, in this instance a languid love song from Daisy to Gatsby. "Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?" That's the perfect summation of Del Rey's entire oeuvre.

Popdust Says: 3.5/5

Bryan Ferry, "Love is the Drug"

We love Luhrman's frenzied remix style, but sometimes it's refreshing to hear a track done relatively straight. Ferry tackles his old band's song like it's a dark jazz standard, and the result is three minutes of utter silliness. Points for fun, though we can't help pondering the Ke$ha cover that might have been.

Popdust Says: 3.5/5

Florence and the Machine, "Over the Love"

With songs "inspired by" the famous narrative, there was always a risk that parts of the Great Gatsby soundtrack would end up as musical book reports, slavishly rehashing the themes and plots of the novel. "Over the Love" gets dangerously close to that, particularly when Florence Welch starts belting about a green light (some symbolism is just too famous to re-use) but once the soaring pianos and crashing drums kick in, the song moves beyond the book to hit operatic heights.

Popdust Says: 4.0/5

Coco O. (of Quadron), "Where the Wind Blows"

Another period song, and the clear highlight of the album so far. In contrast to the bombast that marks much of the soundtrack (and Luhrman's work in general), "Where the Wind Blows" is simple: A ragtime piano loop, a drum machine, and Coco O.'s voice. Vintage touches abound, but they don't distract from the timeless pleasures at work here. A girl, a boy and a sunny day—it means the same thing in 2013 as it did in 1925.

Popdust Says: 4.5/5

Emile Sand, "Crazy in Love"

This one is just a mess, the victim of a too-literal interpretation. The tempo and the melody are all unchanged from Beyonce's original, but all the backing vocals have been replaced with jazz horns! It probably seemed like a good idea in rehearsals, but the result sounds more like the Mos Eisley cantina than a West Egg house party.

Popdust Says: 2.5/5

The xx, "Together"

No, it's not a Turtles cover. Instead, it's a moody electronic jam, with an echoing drum sound that's become something of a trademark on this soundtrack. There are some interesting things going on here, but not enough to justify the song's five-minute runtime.

Popdust Says: 3.0/5

Gotye, "Heart's a Mess"

It's good to have Gotye back in our lives again, even if this song is an old one. (It was on Gotye's 2006 album Like Drawing Blood.) He's always been a chameleon, and here he's playing a slinky lounge singer, with all the desperate oiliness the role requires. The song's a little sparse to make an impression, until a cascade of drums shakes us out of the funk.

Popdust Says: 3.5/5

Jack Black, "Love Is Blindness"

Another chameleon, though Jack Black's a little more reptilian than friendly Gotye. Black's U2 cover isn't a new thing (it was featured in the 2011 compilation AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered) but it suits the mood of the soundtrack's second half: Dark, anguished, perfect for slow motion scenes of Leonardo DiCaprio emoting in the rain. And vocally, Black's Bono impersonation is second to none.

Popdust Says: 4.0/5

Nero, "In the Past"

The downside of the album's second half though, is that all those moody electronic songs end up blurring together. "In the Past" is a fine song, but after the xx and Gotye, all the luscious instrumentals and drum machines are lacking something—a strong personality, a killer hook—that would set them apart. We don't doubt this is a fine song on its own, though.

Popdust Says: 3.0/5

Sia, "Kill and Run"

We close with another of the book-report songs, this time Sia's interpretation of the novel's tragic final act. Sia's a little too "out-there" to achieve full-on divahood, but her quintessential weirdness works for Gatsby's torch song; she's one of Macbeth's witches, propelling our characters inexorably towards fates they're powerless to avoid. In another universe, this would be a great James Bond theme song.

Soundtracking the trailer to his upcoming The Great Gatsby remake with Watch the Throne's "No Church in the Wild" was a stroke of genius, but no one would've guessed that director Baz Luhrmann also pulled Jay-Z to score the entire film.

Today, The Film Stage is reporting just that, going off of a tweet from producer Jeymes Samuel of The Bullitts, who leaked the news on Twitter:

On second thought, while new for Jay, it's not that surprising for Luhrmann--whose Moulin Rouge (despite being set on the early 1900s Bohemian backdrop of Paris) had a soundtrack filled with modern day musical adaptations. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor serenaded each other with Elton John's "Your Song," while the famed Moulin Rouge can-can dancers bounced along to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Before that, Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (which, if you recall, also starred Gatsby's Leonardo DiCaprio) featured a much-adored two-part soundtrack with the likes of Garbage, The Cardigans and Everclear.

The Great Gatsby's dissection of opulence and corruption goes hand-in-hand with many of Jay's most compelling narratives, so the pairing is bound to be a natural fit. In fact, Luhrmann was weaving his music into the minds of his cast from the start: Actress Isla Fisher mentioned to MTV.com that Luhrmann used Jay's music as on-set motivation:

“On my first day he had Jay-Z pumped up full, and we did the entire scene with, you know, Jay-Z in our ear on full blast while acting, and it was just so liberating."

Rumors that Jay would also be scoring the Willow Smith-led remake of Annie surfaced back in May, but since then there hasn't been any further talk of the project. And as far as we know, the youngest Smith won't be making a cameo in The Great Gatsby, but there have been other reports that Lady Gaga and Prince were contributing to Gatsby's soundtrack.

Curious what the film might sound like? Check out The Great Gatsby's trailer featuring "No Church in the Wild" below:

When Baz Luhrman chose to open the trailer for his upcoming Great Gatsby remake with the dulcet tones of Frank Ocean, it was clear that the Australian auteur would once again not limit himself when it came to choosing soundtrack tunes. This is the man, after all, whose adaptation of a Shakespearean tragedy set in Renaissance Italy was soundtracked by California pop-punk...

...and included this touching version of "When Doves Cry," for no particular reason:

For a backstage musical set in 1890s Paris, Luhrman cast his net even wider, mashing up the work of greats like David Bowie, Whitney Houston and Elton John until it seemed like the entire pop canon was on the soundtrack:

So then, with that in mind, which artists would you guess Luhrman chose to soundtrack his tale of glitz and decadence during the Roaring Twenties? Gatsby actress Adelaide Clemons has the scoop:

Some pretty huge artists have approached Baz and are writing songs for the film, and I don't think Warner Bros. are going to turn down Prince and Lady Gaga knocking down your door.

Prince and Lady Gaga, you don't say! Somehow we think this will all work out just fine.

Your thoughts on Baz Luhrmann's upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, depend a lot on whether you think it's OK to take anachronistic liberties with historical source material in the name of style and storytelling, pizzazz and panache and fun little nouns like that. (In other words, your thoughts on Baz Luhrmann; think Moulin Rouge.) Judging by the trailer, you might want to add Watch the Throne to that, since it uses "No Church in the Wild" for a bit of glitzy scene-setting.

It's a great choice of track. First, it means a thoroughly cinematic work is finally starting to gravitate toward its natural cinematic home. "No Church in the Wild" is the first track on the album for a reason. (See also: Kanye's 7-screen experience, some action thing.) It's also not a bad choice for Gatsby in general, as the Roaring Twenties aren't far from the sort of new-money ostentation the Throne's talking about. Luhrmann reportedly played Jay-Z on set to set a secne.

Incidentally, this trailer also means that if you've got any sort of final projects for school, maybe high-school English or film studies or something, a Throne/Gatsby mashup is no longer an option. Sorry. It hurts when people come up with ideas first.