Self Expression Magazine

The Great Gatsby OST

Posted on the 29 August 2013 by Bvulcanius @BVulcanius

Recently I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald since it is a book I would like to discuss with my upper school students this year. Of course, it is not a coincidence that I chose to discuss this particular book. One of the reasons being that a recent film adaptation has been done by Baz Luhrmann, the guy who also did an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Romeo + Juliet). The latter film got people saying  it was done in an MTV-style: flashing images, bright colours, lots of popular music on the soundtrack (Des’ree, The Cardigans, Garbage, and Radiohead a.o.). I have watched this film more times than I can count (also in the classroom) and I never get bored with it.

So, of course I would like to read The Great Gatsby with my students and, after that, watch the new film. Again, I love the way Luhrmann has put this book on the siilver screen, how he modernized it yet stayed true to the era in which The Great Gatsby was written and takes place: the 1920s.

For this film, Luhrmann worked together with producer and musician Jay-Z, trying to translate the music typical for the 1920s into something modern and popular. The resulting original soundtrack for the film is amazing; it blows my mind. Artists featuring on the soundtrack are Jay-Z himself and his wife Beyoncé, but we also find Florence + The Machine, Gotye, Fergie, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Jack White, Emeli Sandé, and Lana del Rey. Beyoncé translated Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black together with André 300 with great results. In its turn, Emeli Sandé sang Crazy in Love (originally by Beyoncé). A mindblowing rendition of Love is Blindness (originally U2) by Jack White, made me fall in love with the soundtrack immediately; just listen to that guitar solo (1:57)! A truly beautiful song from the soundtrack is Lana Del Rey’s Young and Beautiful.

Before watching the film with my students, I’m planning to do a little detour into the 1920s music scene (charleston, Louis Armstrong, etc.) and then let the students decide whether they think Jay-Z managed to capture the 1920s atmosphere on the The Great Gatsby soundtrack.

I recommend having both a watch and a listen!


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