Tag Archives: Beyoncé

Great Expectations Fulfilled: Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” Soundtrack

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-Emily Fraysse

Director Baz Luhrmann has become infamous in the cinematic world for reworking, rejuvenating, and remixing old songs into a refreshing rendition. His latest film, The Great Gatsby, is no exception.

On May 2, the entire album was leaked to the public for listening-only. Combining an all-star collection of artists like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Florence and the Machine, Jack White, The xx, and Fergie, the album captures the fame and glory of the main character, Jay Gatsby, and the over-the-top ragers he throws at his mansion in New York City during the roaring ’20s. The book, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, states that, “the tempo of the city had changed sharply. The buildings were higher, the parties were bigger, the morals were looser and the liquor was cheaper. The restlessness approached hysteria.” The soundtrack reflects this imagery.

Luhrmann’s post-modernistic style leaves the soundtrack with a juxtaposition of classic jazz and current styles of rap, pop, and hip-hop. NPR explains that by, “distilling the essence of the Jazz Age though never completely reflecting it, this soundtrack is as much an event as is the film that inspired it.”

This left many people in the NPR community and beyond disappointed because of the lack of the traditional Jazz music that was the epitome of that era. So, why did Luhrmann stray away from period music? Don’t get me wrong—there’s a bit of the ’20s sprinkled through a few of the songs. In the text, Fitzgerald makes references to jazz-influenced pop songs that capture the amplification of the parties Gatsby throws and the lusciousness of his filthy-rich lifestyle. The soundtrack portrays the period of music that we are in right now—the “hip-hop age.” The mixture of talented artists, ranging from rap to alternative, exemplify how hip-hop is deeply embedded in rock and dance music. With the juxtaposition of the roaring twenties period shown on the screen, the viewers get to feel the impact of modern-day music, just as Fitzgerald did for the readers of his novel when it was published in 1925.

The question is: will the work of a variety of artists reflect the work of this brilliant writer, or will it take away from the film? I guess we’ll have to wait and see when the film opens May 10.

Grade: A-

Image from http://last.fm.

"Life is But a Dream"-Beyoncé the icon, the woman

-Rache’ll Brown

I have never wanted to be Beyoncé more than I did after I watched her autobiographical documentary Life is But a Dream on HBO—and that says a lot, considering that as a child, my number one documented wish was to be the icon herself. Among other things, the documentary shows a heart-wrenching account of her relationship with her father (and ex-manager) Matthew Knowles, and the stresses she faces being in the public eye. Viewers see a side of Beyoncé that has never been seen before. She is inspiring, articulate, hard working, and outrageously fabulous. Beyoncé runs the world.

Life is But a Dream was filmed over a number of years, featuring a mix of performance footage, home videos, interviews, vlogs, and documentary style footage of her day-to-day life. Viewers see the star in a raw, personal light, and things are revealed that fans never would have guessed, like a miscarriage she had prior to her pregnancy with daughter Blue Ivy.

Through all of the emotion, my favorite part of the documentary was a detailed behind-the-scenes look at Beyoncé’s 2011 award show performances. Her act at the Billboard Music Awards featured an insane and inspiring rendition of “Run the World (Girls).” Then I got emotional all over again watching the unforgettable performance of  “Love On Top” at the MTV VMAs where she announced her pregnancy. It was interesting to see her creative process, and what she went through to bring her visions to life. The decisions she made, the way she felt—all of it was awesome. Trust me, the end results were beyond amazing, and I have more respect for Beyoncé as a performer then I ever did before.

Since I can remember, I’ve admired Beyoncé, but when I was asked why, I never really had an answer. Life Is But A Dream has given me a billion and one reasons to love this artist. The documentary will make anyone a fan of Beyoncé, whether it is for her music, her work ethic, or her personality. She truly is a strong and inspiring woman, and the amount of work and emotion she puts into her career is over the top.

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Image by martdiz.

Who Is The Ultimate Woman?

-Marissa Tomko

Don’t lie to me—I know you all saw Beyoncé’s half-time performance at the Superbowl last month. Like many people, I found it to be electrifying, and have viewed it plenty of times since I watched it live. One thing that defines Beyoncé as an artist is her confidence. While it may border on egotism, I have never questioned it. So what if she is fully aware of the power she holds—it’s obviously working for her. In my opinion, Beyoncé is the ultimate woman and I worship at her feet. But her performance got me thinking—should I be doing that?

If you asked my girlfriends who they aspire to be like, you would definitely find evidence of their role models in their appearance. My New Girl-loving friend recently got the now-iconic Zooey Deschanel blunt banged haircut; my friend who has been a committed Britney Spears fan since she was 10 years old wears Brit’s standard fedora hat at least twice a week; Another friend tries to put together Rachel Bilson’s outfits daily. And me? You can usually find me lunging across my living room asking my roommates if my backside resembles my idol’s yet.

Role models are tricky because there is a definite line between aspiring to be like somebody and wishing that you were them. While I was watching Queen B perform, all I could think was “I would give anything to be her,” and it was true. In that moment, I would have sold my soul to have her body, her gorgeous curls, and her powerful presence; she embodies everything that I have ever wanted to portray as a woman. In that moment, I resented myself.

In the past few years, there have been so many different kinds of women for society to obsess over. As far as the variety goes, I love it. There’s the eccentric Lady Gaga and the free-spirited Jessa from HBO’s Girls. I even give reality star Khloé Kardashian some credit for her ability to speak her mind and take a stand. However, in my deep admiration for these unique women, I often forget that I am a person, too. In our quest to better ourselves, even the most confident of girls can confuse admiration with direct imitation.

Just because I will never wow the entire world while clad in leather at America’s favorite sporting event does not mean I will not make an impact. I can portray power and confidence in a different way, in a way that comes naturally to me. I know, I know—it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

Yes, it’s okay to steal fashion tips from the women you admire. It’s even okay to wish that you were a little more outspoken. But it’s also important to remember to apply the traits that you admire about others to yourself. With feminism and women’s issues being such hot topics as of late, we all deserve to have a voice—our own voice—in this crazy world.

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Image by José Goulão from http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3339/3546356301_c0c837afd0.jpg