Week Ending May 12, 2013. Albums: Great Gatsby Off To Great Start
Music From Baz Luhrmann’s Film The Great Gatsby enters The Billboard 200 at #2, just behind Lady Antebellum’s Golden. Gatsby sold 137K copies, about 50% more than initially forecast. This is the biggest one-week sales tally for a soundtrack since The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond sold 175K in its first week in March 2012.
This is the third soundtrack to a film directed by Luhrmann to reach the top three. Romeo + Juliet hit #2 in January 1997. Music From Baz Luhrmann’s Film Moulin Rouge hit #3 in June 2001. All three of these albums have spawned hit songs. Romeo + Juliet featured the Cardigans’ “Lovefool” and Garbage’s “#1 Crush.” Moulin Rouge yielded a chart-topping remake of LaBelle’s 1975 smash “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and P!nk. The Great Gatsby has spawned Lana Del Rey’s “Young & Beautiful” and “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” by Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock.
Jay-Z served as executive producer of the Gatsby soundtrack, which also features such artists as Andre 3000, Jack White and Florence + the Machine. The album is an instant front-runner to win the Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media, an award won in February by Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris.
The album sold 119K digital copies (87% of its total), which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. That’s the biggest one-week digital sales tally ever for a soundtrack, surpassing Glee: The Music: Journey To Regionals, which sold 106 copies in its first week in June 2010. Among movies from theatrically-released movies, the old record was held by the aforementioned The Hunger Games, which sold 100K digital copies in its first week.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who stars in The Great Gatsby, also starred in Romeo + Juliet. (He also starred in a non-Luhrmann movie that spawned a rather successful soundtrack, Titanic.)
DiCaprio is 38, one year older than Robert Redford was when he starred in the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby. (Wanna feel old? DiCaprio wasn’t even born yet when Redford’s movie came out in March 1974. DiCaprio was born that November.)
The Great Gatsby has far eclipsed the soundtrack to that 1974 film, which peaked at #85. Legendary arranger and conductor Nelson Riddle conducted the album, which included such vintage 1920s songs as “It Had To be You,” “What’ll I Do” and “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby.” Riddle won an Oscar for his work on the film in the now-defunct category of Best Original Song Score And/Or Adaptation.
While Luhrmann appreciates the jazz that Fitzgerald describes in the novel (and which dominated the 1974 soundtrack), he chose to go another way. “No matter how much I like that music, it’s classical music now,” he told the Los Angeles Times’ Mikael Wood. “Gatsby was intoxicating everyone in New York with champagne and music…Now there’s another form of African American street music—hip-hop—that speaks in exactly the same way to our lives.”