Album Review: Various Artists—“Fifty Shades Of Grey OST”

By Teodora Pasca

Fifty Shades of Grey came out in theatres a week ago, and it’s already made a ridiculous amount of money at the box office. I confess that (shockingly) I am not particularly interested in watching it, at least not un-ironically. The intimate details of Ana and Christian’s relationship aren’t on my list of priorities — and let’s face it, when it comes to romance, it’s not exactly the next Titanic. That being said, there is one part of this story that catches my attention. Who cares about the sex? I want to hear the music!

Since it hit theatres, Fifty Shades of Grey’s overall reception has been mixed. I can’t weigh in on the film because I haven’t seen it (and again, I’ll probably have to have a few glasses of wine before I do so willingly). That being said, I listened to the OST with an open mind, and it’s… surprisingly great, for a film based on a novel that started off as Twilight fan-fiction.

First of all, the soundtrack features a stellar collection of artists. The track listing includes the work of Sia, whose voice is as hauntingly beautiful as ever in “Salted Wound”. The Weeknd doesn’t disappoint with his two contributions, “Where You Belong” and “Earned It”, both of which showcase his phenomenal falsetto. We are graced with not one, but two Beyoncé remixes (the more the merrier!): in particular, the OST version of her commonly-covered hit “Crazy in Love”, also featured in the trailer, is admittedly the steamiest rendition I’ve ever heard.

The biggest surprise (and maybe a bit of a letdown) comes from AWOLNATION, who tends to deliver a solid, gravelly performance with their electronic songs. On this soundtrack, their acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” is so hesitant that the band is almost unrecognizable. Not sure I like the rendition, but honestly, who can live up to Springsteen?

What makes this soundtrack great is the unifying theme—most of the songs are linked through a few key musical elements. The soundtrack overall evokes a certain sultriness and allure that is fitting for the film’s subject matter. The lilting jazz beat and bass line that comes up across the board kind of sounds like something you’d play in a smoky cabaret bar, and I mean that in the best way possible. The three remastered tracks — Annie Lennox’s “I Put A Spell on You”, Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft”, and the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden” — give the record a bit of vintage class. (A few of the cookie-cutter pop songs on the listing unfortunately detract from this image.)

Overall, the Fifty Shades OST was a pleasant surprise. You don’t have to be into the movie (or any of the crazy stuff they do in the movie) to enjoy the music. However, if you listen to this stuff in public, you might want to keep it a secret. If the soundtrack’s album art comes up on your iPod screen, you might get some disapproving stares. (Republic)

Listen: “Salted Wound”

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