Nicole Crane 2: Soundtracking

photoMy pop-culture mind is gushing with glam in light of the much anticipated remake of The Great Gatsby. Truth be told, I may actually be gushing for the fact that Baz Luhrmann is at the helm. Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, seriously the term epic is an understatement for this man (at least I think so). What more, is his equally epic soundtracks which have become a staple of Luhrmann films. Dropping today, the overly hyped soundtrack of his latest film is now gloriously in our lives. Often enough, Luhrmann has used this crafted “fine-tuned” story-telling additive to each film, giving extraordinary of-the-now relevance. Jay Z, Florence and The Machine, and Beyonce covering Winehouse, again epic is an understatement.

In the past few days I have been power re-reading the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic trying to give my own imagination a shot of out-doing Luhrmann’s. Which I know come this friday will possibly be an epic-fail on my part. The music however has already encapsulated me in world of Art Deco merely lacking the income of Mr. Gatsby. The overly indulgent and overwhelming visual delusions I have had right here in my local cafe have only grown now with my iPod perfectly synced.

For as young as I can remember, I have oddly been attached to films and their soundtracks no matter their genre. I remember being transported to middle of nowhere America with Oh Brother Where Art Thou, to the sands of the east coast with Beaches, and a digital frontier with TRON.

Some of the best moments in film came from their marriage with the soundtrack. Whitney Houston’s Body Guard, really, need I say more! So as these tracks yet again transport me into a make believe world, I tapped local Music blogger Nicole Crane, Flannel Friction, to join me in a musical tour of Gatsby.

In a part two Q&A with Nicole, I ask, was the hype all worth it? Is the marriage of music and movie a good one? Our CoversaSean lead to a great discussion on the new soundtrack, some of our past favorites, even motivating us to master mind our own track list creations.

Sean Charles: Well I had to have you for a part two chat considering the fun we had, and I think its perfect timing too, I’ve noticed a film soundtrack moment, Particularly with The Great Gatsby, happening right now. What do you think is sparking this infusion of music and film?

Nicole Crane: Soundtracks have long been an important aspect of film (and T.V. too!), but it feels like the last couple of decades have really seen the rise of the commercial appeal of soundtracks. A good soundtrack is like a mixtape from your favorite directors or characters. The perfect song can elevate a scene from good to life changing! Could you imagine The Graduate WITHOUT” Mrs. Robinson”? The Bodyguard without “I will always love you”?… The music of a film can almost act as another character in the story.

SC: I know we discussed your deep catalog of favorite music genres and artist but do you have a favorite soundtrack?

NC: This is nearly impossible to answer, but if I had to answer I might say the soundtrack to the movie Once. It’s so incredibly cohesive as an album on its own and as a soundtrack to a movie/musical it was perfection. The movie’s stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova have such a beautiful connection in their music and have gone on to create another album together under the name The Swell Season… it’s almost as if the soundtrack continued through them.

Notable Mentions: Harold and Maude, Scott Pilgrim vs. the world, Almost Famous, singing in the rain, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, Pretty in Pink, Rushmore (really, anything Wes Anderson does), and the Virgin Suicides.

SC: Oh Brother where art thou, this may shock you, is one of my faves. Beaches is another fave. You can’t get better than Bette Midler’s cover of Under the Boardwalk. The two-volume edition of Studio 54 soundtrack, as well, is my movie must play-list. However, the most notable soundtracks I have in my catalog is Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge both Baz Luhrmann creations. Which bring me today’s news. So much, I mean so much, buzz is surrounding The Great Gatsby soundtrack. Tell me: what do you think of all the hype?

NC: Baz Luhrmann has proven himself to be a visionary and his movies are always the complete package… they tell an incredible story and they do so BEAUTIFULLY through the lavish, imaginative visuals, through the first rate casting, and the soundtrack and score… This is a man who put a Nirvana song in the can can scene in Moulin Rouge, the man who got Radiohead to write Exit Music For a Film for the death scene in Romeo + Juliet (one of my favorite soundtrack songs ever!). I think when you have someone on this par of creativity there is bound to be hype… throw Jay Z into that mix and you’ve got a potential phenomenon!

SC: What do you think of the soundtrack?

NC: I think that Luhrmann and Jay Z cultivated a mostly great group of musicians for this album. With the exception of a couple of missteps (Will.I.Am, I’m looking at you) this album features innovative artists who are tastemakers in their respective genres. Florence + the Machine, Sia, the xx, and Lana Del Ray all add an etherial beauty rivaling Daisy Buchanan. As much as I can’t stand Fergie I think her song works as a modern jazzy version of a party jam and it works in context with the film’s aesthetic (although it’s not necessarily a song I want to listen to more than once). Emili Sande and the Brian Ferry Orchestra’s loose jazzy cover Crazy in Love (the original by Mrs Z herself) is imaginative but I think a jazzier vocal would have really made this track stand out. As a whole this album is surprising and totally listenable. It’s dramatic and anthemic, two things you want in a good soundtrack.

SC: One of your favorites is also present on the soundtrack, Jack White, what do you think of his number?

NC: Oh good ole Jack… I LOVE this song! Full disclosure, I bought the 45 of this song at his record shop last time I was in Nashville so I have been spinning this song for months now. The song, “Love is Blindness” is a cover of a U2 song. The original is dark and brooding but is almost a ballad with the gentle coo of bono’s voice. On the Great Gatsby soundtrack Jack White takes this song and tears it to bits with his raw voice and frantic energy… he’s a man on a ledge in this version. Wreckless and beautiful at the same time.

SC: And what are your thoughts On JayZ’s “huge” role in its creation?

NC: I think when I heard Jay Z was producing this album I expected a lot more hip hop and was surprised to find it limited to a few songs. You can’t argue that Jay Z is a talented producer. I think he adds just the right modern edge to this album.

SC: The Art Deco period is one that continues to enthrall me in fascination (borderline obsession). The jazz age defined that era and the soundtrack took on different direction. Do you feel it should have had some more jazzy numbers?

NC: I think the soundtrack does a decent job of referencing the jazz period without being bound by it. I think it pays homage to that age in an interesting and modern way.

SC: I ran across an interview with director Baz Luhrmann a while back. He spoke of how we are living in our own jazz age, and the Jazz of now is Hip/Hop, which explains the direction of the soundtrack. Do you agree?

NC: In some ways I do… I definitely see what he means by that statement. Jazz is full of spirit and soul and improvisation, and hip hop, (when done well) is very much the same. Let me tell you there is nothing like watching good jazz or hip hop live! Those musicians play off the energy of the other band members and of the audience and that is such an exciting thing to be a part of. It’s a collaboration of the best sorts. However jazz musicians for the most part tend to be overlooked and underpaid, it’s a pursuit in which the reward tends to be in the art you create. Hip Hop is an opposing genre in that way. On the whole it is a market flooded with artists hell bent on making money and not necessarily art. There are exceptions of course but I think that most people would agree with me… (cue the angry masses with pitchforks)

SC: Do you feel that if Jay Z or Baz would have kept a much more solid jazz angle on the soundtrack there would be this kind of hype?

NC: I would have loved to see them really push the hip hop/jazz angle on this album. They could have come up with a whole new genre! Who knows, it could have been awful but in the hands of Jay Z I think he could have done something really spectacular… maybe his next album will be a jazz/hip hop fusion album!

SC: Well, with all great things comes a few bad. Controversy surrounds Beyonce and Andre 3000’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s back to black. What do you think: To soon?

NC: I don’t really understand the controversy surrounding this track… It feels like each week someone is butchering an Amy Winehouse song on some reality singing competition, so to have two such talented and revered artists as Beyonce and Andre 3000 take this song in a new direction seems like a blessing. Beyonce is sexy as ever on this track and I think Andre 3000 adds an appropriate amount of his quirky style without overpowering the song. This song is very reminiscent of the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack even… I’d LOVE to see it mashed up with Radiohead’s Talk Show Host (those of you who know how to mash, please do).

SC: This really is very anticipated, some even say this soundtrack may out gross the film. Do you think it might?

NC: I think it has the potential to… but I feel like I’d have to see the movie before I could really make a statement like that.That being said, with the incredible line up on this album it definitely has the potential to break some records.

SC: Ok, so I have to ask (Drum roll) . If you could pick 10 tracks to be on the soundtrack of your life what would they be?

NC: THIS is the impossible question! So these are my answers today… that I could come up with in an hour or so… given more time or on a different day they may be completely different!

1) Ara Batur: Sigur Ros(this song is so victorious sounding… it would have to accompany some incredibly epic moment in my life)

2) First breath after a coma: Explosions in the sky (for a love at first site moment)

3) After Hours: We Are Scientists (the perfect song for one of those late night drives home after an incredible night… good for feeling infinite)

4) Plea from a cat named virtue: The Weakerthans (a surprisingly great song written from the point of view of the cat… fitting for a cat lady isn’t it?)

5) The House she lived in: The Veils (a song to be written by my lover upon the event of my death… doesn’t everyone want one of those?… plus it’s fun to sing a long to)

6) Wolf Like Me: Tv On the Radio (this song is incredible… to be set to a scene of me and my girl gang getting ready to go mess someone up… implying that in the movie of my life I’d have a girl gang, you know, the kind with lots of eyeliner and bouffants)

7) What Me Worry: St Vincent (ideally I’d be performing this in some smoky night club)

8) Nothing Can: Sam Cooke Change This Love” (for slow dancing)

9) Manchester: Kishi Bashi(because I hope that I could live a life ((movie or otherwise)) worthy of this beautiful song)

10) This is the day: The The (end credits… okay I may have stolen this from the movie Empire Records but who cares)

Now to go live a life worthy of these incredible songs šŸ™‚

SC: Alright, well, since you shared, I think these our my fine tuned tracks worthy of a film about Sean, at least for part one.

1) Marry The Night: Lady Gaga ( This has to be the lead track, Lady Gaga wrote this song about the struggles of a young career, and I cant help but relate deeply to it)

2) Jagged Little Pill: Alanis Morissette, ( This song says it all really,You live you learn, first Alanis is a genius with lyrics, being a word person myself I can’t help but indulge, this whole album really can serve as a soundtrack for me)

3) Dreams: The Cranberries ( I find this song so hopeful, it’s also in the movie You’ve got Mail, it plays in the scene when Meg Ryan is walking in new york early in the morning with coffee in hand to her small book store, for some reason I just love that image!)

4) I’ll be there for you: The Rembrandt’s ( TV soundtrack, this songs says so much on being in your mid -20s, I’ve always loved it, and FRIENDS come on… best show ever!)

5) VOGUE: Madonna ( What would a soundtrack on Sean be without Madonna, VOGUE is the anthem to my fashion existence and harsh experiences, really, it has served as my AM power song!)

6) White Christmas: Lady Gaga ( Given my Birthday is in December, a Christmas song is in order, and Lady Gaga’s White Christmas is my absolute fav, she sang this on “A Very Gaga Holiday Special” she even added a verse, how fab!)

7) The Good Life: Tony Bennett & Billy Joel ( I love this duo, the song is really about what everyone wants, and how we really define our own “Good Life”, plus it sounds like they have had a drink or two in the recording!)

8) For What It’s Worth: Buffalo Springfield ( This song is short to the point and oh so deep, I think it every decade can relate to the song, I love the lyric “Young People Speaking their minds” for what its worth this song is about asking what’s going, and lord knows i ask a lot of things in life!)

9) After The Glitter Fades: Stevie Nicks ( I think this song is the story of my entire life really, thus far, no matter what, your legacy will live on after the glitter is gone. Deep, I know, however I just like comparing my life to glitter thats always fun.)

10) Bidi Bidi Bom Bom: Selena ( I’m from Corpus Christi Tx, Selena is an obligatory pick for list, and lord knows this song has accompanied many on the beach moments with friends!)

For more on Nicole Crane check out part 1 of our Q&A here Nicole Crane: White Winged Dove

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