If you’re interested in following along, you can stream the whole album over at NPR’s First Listen.
1. “100$ Bill” – Jay-Z
We’re going to start with Leonardo DiCaprio’s voice? Really? Fine. Jay-Z is fine. I mean, he doesn’t ever do anything that I absolutely hate. This is fine. I could really do without the low, slow voice repeating “HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS” in the background, but ok.
Oh, more Leo. More dialogue. Does this mean I don’t actually have to see the movie even though it appeals to all of my feelings regarding over-the-top costuming and period dramas? I was about to skip the track, but it ended just in time. I don’t know if that’s a positive or a negative.
2. “Back to Black” – Andre 3000 & Beyonce
Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” is being covered by Andre 3000 and Beyonce? I do generally love Beyonce for, well, everything. Her voice in this song is pretty much exactly how I imagine she seduced Jay-Z. So breathy!
I mean, why did Beyonce agree to do this with Andre 3000? Doesn’t the entire world just agree that Beyonce can live the rest of her days doing whatever she wants because she made that biographical documentary with HBO, and we all sighed collectively?
3. “Bang Bang” – will.i.am
“Bang Bang” by… Will.i.am? (When is it appropriate to capitalize his name?) Oh, god. What is happening? I think I heard this in a gay bar five years ago while refusing cocaine. I’m upset that they’re not even going to acknowledge the Nancy Sinatra classic. Lots of Louis Armstrong scat singing at the end? With electronic clapping? I don’t know what I think. On one hand, this is very over-the-top Gatsby-esque, but on the other hand… Go away, will.i.am. This hurts my feelings.
4. “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” – Fergie, Q Tip & GoonRock
Not looking forward to this, but I’m going to give it a chance. I think this might be in the trailer, but just the part before the 1996 dance mix comes in. More electronic clapping. Camera shutter/paparazzi sounds. This probably comes with it’s own laser light show. Airhorns x 10,000. I would leave the dance floor if this started playing.
5. “Young and Beautiful” – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is next. This is exactly what I expected. Wilting vocals coming through over-injected lips. If you like her already, this is not a departure, and you will be pleased with the outcome. If you’re still mad about her Saturday Night Live appearance, you should probably just skip it. (The only thing you’re missing is the line “Dear lord, when I get to heaven, please let me bring my man.” Also, “Oh, that face makes me wanna party.”)
6. “Love is the Drug” – Bryan Ferry with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra
Bryan Ferry with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra. It feels SO NICE to hear actual instruments after listening to will.i.am’s version of “Bang Bang.” This track is wiping my memory of whatever Fergie did earlier. Good job, Bryan Ferry. This seems appropriate, but modern.
7. “Over the Love” – Florence + The Machine
First line of this one, and I know I’m hearing Florence + The Machine. Just like Lana Del Ray, this is exactly what I expected. Lana and Florence should be commended for refusing the copious airhorn sound effects on the rest of the album.
8. “Where the Wind Blows” – Coco O. from Quadron
Oh, hey, piano. Record player cracks and pops. A simple vocal melody. They couldn’t leave it alone, and they added a drum machine. Even with the drum machine, this track isn’t terrible, just forgettable. Had to look up who this was… Coco O. from Quadron, an electronic Danish duo.
9. “Crazy in Love” – Emeli Sande and the Bryan Ferry Orchestra
Admittedly, I heard this one earlier this week, and it’s had time to sink in. Emeli Sande does well, and real instruments are great. Just ignore the similarities this song shares with the cantina song in Star Wars. It’s a triumph after listening to that Leonardo DiCaprio dialogue in the first track.
10. “Together” – The xx
I think this next track, “Together,” is another that I was kind of expecting. The xx has a sound, and they’re sticking to it. Nothing shocking, nothing offensive.
11. “Hearts a Mess” – Gotye
This is exactly what you’d expect from the “Somebody That I Used to Know” singer, but I’m a little surprised about it on this soundtrack. I know that we weren’t going to be plastered with lavish, in-your-face music inspired by the decadence of the 1920s for the whole album, but I think this might be a track that makes more sense in the context of the movie.
12. “Love is Blindness” – Jack White
I’m afraid I’m going to be disappointed… But I’m not! This is fine. Very Jack White. This feels like exactly what he would perform regardless of its ties to a movie soundtrack, which I really enjoy. Maybe I’m just still upset about that will.i.am track.
13. “Into the Past” – Nero
It starts with breathing. I’m resisting the urge to skip because I think that Nero deserves more of a chance than I gave Fergie. This seems fine, but really dense with sound compared to how stringy those vocals are. I’m sure I would like it more if I was 14 and still going through that phase where I really wanted something that sounded edgy (without any edge) and was performed by a girl. I hate the sound of breathing. Skip!
14. “Kill and Run” – Sia
This is definitely what they’re going to play during the credits, right? No opinion.
tl;dr – It’s fine.