Posted April 7, 2015
By MAGGIE URBAN-WAALA
Finding a soundtrack that adequately pairs with the emotional and sexual battle that takes place between the characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” was entirely more satisfying than watching the film itself.
The soundtrack was released on Feb. 10, the day before the film premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and three days before the film’s wide theatrical release on Feb. 13. The release of the soundtrack and movie on the weekend the distributors chose was no coincidence. The film and soundtrack are both dramatically sexual in nature and were released on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Releasing the soundtrack prior to the film was perhaps a move to intrigue viewers and ensure their attendance at the film’s theatrical release.
With song titles such as “Salted Wound,” “Crazy in Love,” and “Did that Hurt?” it is no secret that the soundtrack was meant to summarize the theme of the movie. The order in which the tracks are placed correlates with the scenes in the movie, and take the listener on a narrative story of Anastasia and Christian’s relationship, beginning with “I Put a Spell On You” by Annie Lennox.
Lennox has been named “The Greatest White Soul Singer Alive” by VH1 and one of “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone. Lennox does this Jay Hawkins cover great justice, putting her own inimitable spin on it and capturing the feeling that can be felt when watching the scene that shows Anastasia’s first interaction with Christian Grey, one of intense passion and a great amount of uncertainty.
Mike Knobloch, president of film music and publishing at Universal said: “We really wanted the songs to be part of the fiber of the film – nothing crowbarred in or just auxiliary to the experience. There was a very deliberate effort to create as much original material as possible, to tailor the production, the lyrics and the performance.”
I believe Knobloch accomplished his goal of having a soundtrack that contributed entirely to the film; meaning that without the soundtrack, the film itself would not have had half the impact it was meant to have on viewers.
A critical aid in the success of the soundtrack is the MVP lineup of artists that it features.
The Weeknd is an artist that emerged from the anonymous depths of YouTube in late 2010 and was recently dubbed “the songbird of his generation” and the “best musical talent since Michael Jackson” by MTV’s John Norris. He wrote several songs for the soundtrack, but the single “Earned It” became one of two songs of his that was used in the film and is the only song that is heard in the movie twice.
The track also became one of the biggest songs of The Weeknd’s career to date, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it his second top 10 hit.
The Weeknd produces songs that feature slow tempos, rumbling bass and forlorn echoes that exhibit a pleading anxious tone. His emotional, plaintive lyrics express feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty. As a man who is always in control, Christian Grey’s feelings towards Anastasia are accurately represented by The Weeknd when he is explaining the individual in his song as someone who is worth being taken care of, even if it is out of his character to care for someone in that regard.
Another all-star artist who is featured on the soundtrack is Beyonce. Beyonce was one of the first artists that was approached by the Universal team to do a track for the film. Since the team wanted to use as much original content as possible for the soundtrack, Beyonce produced a cover of her own debut solo single “Crazy in Love” which was released in May 2013.
The original song ranks 118th on Rolling Stone’s 2010 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and it won numerous Grammys. As such a powerful and iconic song, it was a perfect choice for the soundtrack of this film. The lyrics of the song blend well with the theme of the strange and addictive attraction that Anastasia and Christian Grey have for each other, citing how crazy the situation that they are in really is, and how they are acting out of character.
The way in which the track was slowed down and paired with more powerful music in the background makes it much more of an emotional track and much less of the original pop-like style she originally sang.
There are numerous other artists who contributed powerful tracks to the record, Sia, AWOLNATION, Vaults, Ellie Goulding, and even Frank Sinatra. If Universal made anything worthwhile from this film, it is the soundtrack. I believe the soundtrack to this film will be remembered longer than people will remember the failure of the film itself.
- “Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)”
- Various artists – (Annie Lenox, Laura Welsh, The Weeknd, Jessie Ware, Ellie Goulding, Beyonce, Sia, AWOLNATION, Frank Sinatra, Vaults, Skylar Grey, Danny Elfman)
- Republic Records Feb. 10, 2015
- $11.99 on iTunes
- 8.5 out of 10