Easily one of the most-anticipated films of the year, ‘ELVIS’ by Baz Luhrmann arrives in cinemas today and it’s sure to be a box-office smash. With Austin Butler (‘The Carrie Diaries’) as Elvis Presley, the film tells the story of one of music’s most iconic performers and as you’d expect, it’s jam-packed with music. Running just short of 3-hours in length, it’s no surprise that the accompanying soundtrack is a sprawling 36-song collection that clocks in at almost 2 hours. A mix of Elvis recordings (polished up for the film or remixed of course), songs by Butler and other stars of the film, and new tracks from current music stars, ‘ELVIS’ is a real treasure trove to dive into.
I’ll admit from the off that I haven’t seen the ‘ELVIS’ film yet and that makes this review a little hard to do justice. Listening to ‘ELVIS’ from start to finish, it doesn’t sound the most cohesive collection and it’s hard to understand where the songs from modern artists fit in. The project’s lead single is Doja Cat’s ‘Vegas’, which sees the rapper sampling Shonka Dukureh’s version of ‘Hound Dog’, and it continues the experimental approach Luhrmann has taken with previous soundtracks including ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’. The idea here is to show the huge impact that Elvis has had on music and modern artists. It’s certainly interesting but how that’s used in the film remains to be seen (by me at least).
Other new tracks on the set include Eminem & Cee-Lo Green’s ‘The King and I’, which samples ‘Jailhouse Rock’, Swae Lee & Diplo’s ‘Tupelo Shuffle’ which samples ‘That’s Alright Mama’ and Nardo Wick’s ‘Product of the Ghetto’ which features Elvis singing ‘In The Ghetto’. There are plenty of remixes too including Stuart Price’s take on ‘I Got a Feelin’ in My Body’, which recalls Junkie XL’s remix of ‘A Little Less Conversation’, and PNAU’s mash-up of ‘Suspicious Minds’ and ‘Any Day Now’ for ‘Don’t Fly Away’.
Much has been made of Butler’s performance as Elvis in the film and he has three songs on the soundtrack. We get to hear his takes on ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘Baby, Let’s Play House’. It’s remarkable how much like Elvis he sounds, and he certainly convinces with his rock’n’roll swagger and Elvis-like growls. We get to hear Butler and Elvis together on ‘Vegas Rehearsal / That’s All Right’ and it’s a great example of the magic that Luhrmann is able to conjure.
Butler isn’t the only cast member that gets to shine. British singer Yola, who plays Sister Rosetta Tharpe, impresses with ‘Strange Things Are Happening Every Day’ and Shonka Dukureh, who plays Big Mama Thornton, contributes a storming rendition of ‘Hound Dog’.
Of course, there are plenty of Elvis songs to dig into too. From the ’68 Comeback Special’ medley through to new mixes of ‘Burning Love’ and ‘Polk Salad Annie’, the final stretch of the soundtrack really leans into the magic the King made over the years. No one has come close to what he managed to do and hearing these songs again in these new forms is pretty special.
Sprawling it may be but the ‘ELVIS’ soundtrack shows the breadth of the King’s influence. He touched upon so many genres of music during his career and hearing his songs alongside those artists he’s now influencing is a unique and interesting experience. I can’t wait to see the film to understand how it all fits together but this is without a doubt the year’s most interesting soundtrack!
Track listing: 1. Suspicious Minds Vocal Intro – Elvis Presley 2. Thus Sprach American Trilogy – Elvis Presley 3. Vegas – Doja Cat 4. The King and I – Eminem & Cee-Lo Green 5. Tupelo Shuffle – Diplo & Swae Lee 6. Feeling in my Body – Elvis Presley x Stuart Price 7. Craw Fever – Elvis Presley 8. Don’t Fly Away – Elvis Presely x PNAU 9. Can’t Help Falling In Love – Kacey Musgraves 10. Product of the Ghetto – Nardo Wick 11. If I Can Dream – Maneskin 12. Cotton Candy Land – Steve Nicks & Chris Isaak 13. Baby Let’s Play House – Austin Butler 14. I’m Coming Home – Elvis Presley 15. Hound Dog – Shonka Dukureh 16. Tutti Frutti – Les Greene 17. Strange Things Are Happening – Yola 18. Hound Dog – Austin Butler 19. Let It All Hang Out – Denzel Curry 20. Trouble – Austin Butler 21. Feeling in my Body – Lenesha Randolph 22. Edge of Reality (Dark Shadows) – Elvis Presley x Tame Impala 23. Summer Kisses In My Body (DNA) – Elvis Presley 24. 68 Comeback Special (Medley) – Elvis Presley 25. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child – Jazmine Sullivan 26. If I Can Dream – Elvis Presley 27. Any Day Now – Elvis Presley 28. Power of my Love – Jack White x Elvis Presley 29. Vegas Rehearsal That’s All Right – Austin Butler & Elvis Presley 30. Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley 31. Polk Salad Annie – Elvis Presley 32. Burning Love – Elvis Presley 33. It’s Only Love – Elvis Presley 34. Suspicious Minds – Paravi 35. In The Ghetto (Worlds Turn Remix) – Elvis Presley x Nardo Wick 36. Unchained Melody – Elvis Presley Record label: RCA Records Release date: 24th June 2022 Buy ‘ELVIS’ now