’50 Shades’ soundtrack outperforms film

Posted April 4, 2015


With all the hoopla surrounding the release of the film “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the so-called background noise of the movie, the soundtrack, should be getting more of the attention. That’s where the talent lies.

A compilation of newly written songs and covers of classic hits, the 16-track album features artists normally too established for a movie soundtrack. When Annie Lenox sings the first track on the album, you know you’re in for a treat. Her cover of the 1956 classic “I’ll Put A Spell On You,” is, well, spellbinding. Her voice conveys a desperate yet elegant tone, mirroring the mood of the movie.

Perhaps the most well-known and well-done song to come from the soundtrack is Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do.” It claimed a spot on the top 40 charts soon after its release and has hung in the top 10 in the seven weeks since. It’s your typical catchy pop song, but Goulding adds just enough soul and passion to make you want to play it on repeat.

If you don’t play it yourself, FM radio will fill your void.

The up-and-coming R&B band The Weeknd, if not already a household name, is sure to become one after the success of their two original tracks on the album. Both “Earned It” and “Where You Belong,” are commercial radio staples. “Earned It” the more passion-filled, steamy song and “Where You Belong,” a cooler, heavy-beat song.

While the soundtrack brings back many classic favorites, the new renditions aren’t entirely gold. Yet book author E.L. James reportedly hand picked every song and artist, so maybe there was a method to her madness.

Two odd additions to the mix: The Rolling Stones’ 1978 “Beast of Burden” and Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft.” The former sounds outdated and weak instead of conveying the haunting feeling it did 35 years ago.

The electric trio AWOLNATION covers Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 “I’m On Fire” and gives a slow, lifeless performance. But to Springsteen’s good fortune, the release of the new rendition has brought his original classic track to the top of the iTunes charts.

Beyoncé makes two appearances, slowing down her upbeat hit, “Crazy in Love” and adding a haunted background beat to the aptly named “Haunted.” These covers are a mix of sexy, emotional and spooky. Much to the dismay of listeners, these most coveted tracks are not sold individually. Listeners must purchase the entire $12 album for Queen B’s tracks.

The soundtrack may be just supplemental to the movie, but it more than does its job. The songs are mysterious, alluring and have the potential to leave a lasting mark on the franchise. Even if you never read the book or see the movie, the album is worth the listen.

  • “Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)”
  • Released: Feb. 10, 2015
  • Universal Studios and Republic Records
  • Featuring: Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding, Annie Lenox
  • $12
  • Reviewer rating: 4/5 stars