Home Films Baz Luhrmann’s Movie Soundtracks, Ranked

Baz Luhrmann’s Movie Soundtracks, Ranked

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No discussion of Baz Luhrmann’s films – and his maximalist, hyper-sensory style – is complete without mentioning their equally “more is more” approach to music. With the help of his longtime music supervisor, Anton Monsted (who started as his assistant on ‘Romeo + Juliet’ in 1996), the Aussie director has become synonymous with era-defying, genre-bending pop soundtracks. who imbue the historical settings of his films with contemporary sensibilities.

This trademark first appeared in the ’90s grunge soundtrack of “Romeo + Juliet” and eventually evolved into this year’s “Elvis” mash-up madness. Like “The Great Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge!” before that, the box office hit mixes classic King tunes with reimagined and original songs from some of today’s biggest artists.

In honor of Luhrmann’s latest, TheWrap presents a ranking of his films by soundtrack. (Note: “Australia” and “Strictly Ballroom” do not have soundtracks long enough to merit inclusion.)

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Here are all the songs of Elvis: listen to the soundtrack

5. Elvis (2022)

Warner Bros.

This soundtrack of all soundtracks pays homage to the king of rock and roll himself – and many of his influences – in Baz Luhrman’s signature dazzling style. Austin Butler’s voice does justice to Elvis’ – as it should after his three-year immersion into the King’s personality and life. You have classics sung by Elvis himself like “Craw-Fever”, “I’m Coming Home”, “Summer Kisses/In My Body”, “’68 Comeback Special (Medley)”, “If I Can Dream” , “Burning Love” and more, and then there are Austin Butler’s versions of The King’s discography like “Hound Dog”, “Baby, Let’s Play House” and “Trouble”. “Hound Dog” by Shonka Dukureh is so powerful. Yola’s “Stranger Things Happen Every Day” echoes “The Godmother of Rock and Roll” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whom she plays in the film.

As if Elvis wasn’t already an icon himself, other major artists have come together to reinvent his discography or sample him in new songs. Doja Cat created a certified banger with “Vegas” that samples “Hound Dog” by Shonka Dukureh. Eminem and CeeLo use the opening of “Jailhouse Rock” in their new song for the movie, “The King and I”. Swae Lee and Diplo sample “That’s All Right” in their song “Tupelo Shuffle.” Kacey Musgraves’ rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” paired with the scene she backs evokes all kinds of feelings. Stevie Nicks spotlights the lesser known “Cotton Candy Land” and Måneskin launches into “If I Can Dream”.

Putting together a soundtrack that mirrors a musical device is no small feat, and Luhrman went big with this one. Layers of culture, American history and a touch of more modern sounds spice up the Elvis biopic.

– Dessi Gomez

4. The Descent (2016)

netflix

netflix

The two-season Netflix series from Luhrmann and playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis chronicles the rise of hip-hop from its underground origins in the Bronx to its eventual transformation into a sprawling musical genre, as told by a group of teenagers living in New York in the 70s. So it’s only fitting that the soundtrack reflects the times, with funk and disco inflections from artists like Donna Summer, Miguel, Janelle Monáe, Leon Bridges, 6LACK, Christina Aguilera and Jaden Smith ( who also stars in the series). Hip-hop forefather Grandmaster Flash – the DJ who invented the “back-spinning” technique capable of turning the drum beat sections of records into beats for rapping – helped provide advice on the series alongside the notable MC Nas, who wrote all raps for Judge Smith’s wordsmith character, Ezekiel.

“If your collection was limited, you [weren’t] won’t get a real audience,” said Flash, who served as an associate producer on the series. ABC News in 2017 on the different genres of records he was looking for to find the “get down”. “It was a constant digging and going to record stores and trying to find that drum break. And it was never necessarily about black music or white music or foreign music. It was just about the music. “

– Natalie Oganesyan

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Elvis Director Baz Luhrmann Opens Up About His Lead Actor’s Transformation: ‘The Austin Butler That Was On The Disney Shows Doesn’t Exist Anymore’

3. Romeo + Juliet (1996)

twentieth century fox

twentieth century fox

While “Strictly Ballroom” was a modest arthouse hit, “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” put Luhrmann on the world map. And it also cemented his status as a master of film music, something he would continue to solidify throughout his (still ongoing) career.

Luhrmann smartly hired music producers Marius de Vries (who had worked with Madonna, earning a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for “Ray of Light”) and Nellee Hooper (then something of an icon from the soundtrack, having produced “The End” by Smashing Pumpkins Is the Beginning Is the End” and “GoldenEye” by Tina Turner) to work alongside her regular songwriter Craig Armstrong. Not only did this give the score a thoroughly modern trip-hop texture that complimented its post-“Pulp Fiction” take on the source material, but it allowed de Vries and Hooper to mix (or remix) the sounds that came together. are found on the soundtrack.

Together they gave “#1 Crush”, initially a B-side to their inaugural single “Vow”, a slinky overhaul and distorted Madonna sample, and helped pick songs like Des’ree’s “Kissing You” ( that Hooper had produced) and producing new songs like Butthole Surfer’s “Whatever (I Had a Dream)” (which was co-produced by the Dust Brothers). They eventually ended up curating a grunge, electronically embellished mixtape that was part of everyone’s CD collection (the disc itself was a distinct neon orange color with silhouettes of palm trees). Radiohead? Check. Everclear, explicitly referring to the coin? Recheck. Any indistinguishable ’90s alternative rock bands you’d struggle to remember today? Yes please.

But if the soundtrack is known for anything, it’s that it introduces the world to “Lovefool,” the ultra-catchy single from Swedish pop rock band The Cardigans. The song was released a few months before the soundtrack, the first single from their third album “First Band on the Moon”. But it exploded after its inclusion on the “Romeo + Juliet” soundtrack and propelled the band to worldwide fame. It wouldn’t be their only soundtrack jam, either. “Erase/Rewind,” from their terrific 1998 album “Gran Turismo,” will appear on the soundtrack to the forgettable techno-thriller “The Thirteenth Floor.” Other songs would appear on the soundtracks of “The X-Files: Fight the Future”, “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”, and “10 Things I Hate About You”. Well Named.

The soundtrack of the film “Romeo + Juliet” would be found all over the world. In America, the album will reach 4 times platinum status, having sold more than 3 million copies. A second volume of the soundtrack has been released with more songs, greater emphasis on the orchestral score (and dialogue from the movie, a staple of 90s soundtrack albums), and a new Butthole Surfers/Dust Brothers jam . It worked reasonably well too. A 10th anniversary edition of the “Romeo + Juliet” soundtrack was released in 2007 with bonus tracks, including two of Craig Armstrong’s finest orchestral tracks.

-Drew Taylor

2. The Great Gatsby (2013)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

While not the first film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, “The Great Gatsby,” Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation might reign supreme. In classic Luhrmann direction, its camp approach elevates the extravagance of the world of Jay Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties. Although set nearly a century before, Luhrmann and longtime music supervisor Anton Monsted created a tracklist to mirror traditional 1920s jazz with modern 2010s hip-hop. Monsted explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “Baz and I call it the ‘sliding doors’ between the music that’s very faithful to the period of the film’s 1922 set and the music of today.” The soundtrack features a clever mix of original singles from Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” to haunting covers – including Beyonce and Andre 3000’s rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” – as well as the first single from the film, “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey. Monsted and Lana Del Rey worked alongside composer Craig Armstrong, to incorporate the theme from the film as a musical motif by also mixing the song into the score.

Nearly a decade later, audiences are still recognizing and replaying Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.” Accompanying the Lana Del Rey theme, the album also includes tracks from Jay Z, The xx, Florence + the Machine, Jack White, Kanye West, Sia and famed crooner Bryan Ferry and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. Armstrong and Monsted crafted the soundtrack and score perfectly, making the presence of the music one of the film’s most recognizable elements. The soundtrack to “The Great Gatsby” became the second best-selling soundtrack album of 2013 and has remained a mainstay of Luhrmann and Monsted’s legacy.

– Charna Flam

1. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

twentieth century fox

twentieth century fox

Inseparable from the cinematic extravagance that is “Moulin Rouge!” is its multi-platinum, Grammy-winning soundtrack. Luhrmann’s first proper musical tells the story of a poet named Christian (Ewan McGregor) who flocks to bohemian Paris in search of truth, beauty, freedom and, above all, love. . He finds everything he wants in Satine (Nicole Kidman), the courtesan and cabaret star of the Moulin Rouge. The mise-en-scène and soaring emotions at the heart of the film required a musical masterpiece to match – and 20 years after its release, it’s clear that Luhrmann and Co. delivered. As co-author Craig Pearce said EO, “Red Mill!” was intended as a celebration of the greatest pop songs of the 20th century. In turn, the soundtrack features characters like Madonna (“Material Girl”), The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”), The Police (“Roxanne”), Elton John (“Your Song”), David Bowie (“Heroes”) and Dolly Parton (“I Will Always Love You”) and many more.

The majority of the tracks are not single covers, but mixes of songs from various genres and original compositions, tied together with touches of burlesque jazz. While the soundtrack features megawatt stars Bowie, Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink, Bono and Beck, among others, Kidman and McGregor’s vocals are never out of the way. In fact, the music and the story are so intertwined that it’s easy to miss bits if you’re not looking for them: “Elephant Love Medley” is taken from 10 different songs on its own, and who could forget “Lady Marmalade “? Even the original single number from the soundtrack, “Come What May”, fits in perfectly.

The music of “Moulin Rouge!” was so popular that it spawned a second soundtrack with more originals and remixes from the film, not to mention a Tony Award-winning musical. Beyond its enduring popularity, the soundtrack earns top spot for showcasing Luhrmann and Monsted’s singular talent for synthesizing contemporary pop and period storytelling.

-Harper Lambert