Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: ‘Elvis (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)’ is a series of enhanced hits and misses

<p>&quot;Elvis&quot; was released in theaters June 24, 2022. </p>

"Elvis" was released in theaters June 24, 2022.

As a huge fan of Elvis’ music and Baz Luhrmann’s musical tastes (being one of few people who defended “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack), I was excited to listen to what I thought would be a fantastic collaboration between numerous popular artists and one classic rock icon.

What was delivered was a collection of remixes and covers that often  failed to live up to the enormous legacy Elvis left behind with his music.

Elvis’ music is not only impactful because of his iconic voice but also because of the grandeur with which they were performed and subsequently recorded. Some of the covers, such as “Suspicious Minds” by Paravi, fail to capture that and are less enjoyable.

“Suspicious Minds” is intended to be a rousing anthem of love, a plea to a loved one to disregard irrational thoughts and make a decision about their relationship. The original recording delivered this message with a gradual crescendo that was only emphasized in the live performances. 

The cover by Paravi opts instead for a more subdued sound which feels out of place and pales in comparison to the film mix of the original song by Elvis.

However, Kacey Musgraves’ cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” proves that a subdued sound is not always a bad thing as she utilizes a slight echo, making her cover sound very much like a product of the 60s. The cover is beautiful. Her voice carries the song perfectly while changing it just enough to make it feel different without ruining a classic love song.

Måneskin’s cover of “If I Can Dream” is another worthy shout out from the other covers on the album. The lead vocals by Damiano David are bold and the strong but restrained instrumentals are enough to let his voice carry out a powerful song about the importance of hope and unity.

The rest of the album is either remixes of Elvis’ songs done by various artists or straight renditions of classic tunes by Austin Butler in the actual film. The film songs are great, as Butler almost perfectly mimics Presley’s voice and tonal inflections.Luhrmann’s signature sound mixing makes the songs sound more striking and larger than life.

The remixes are where the real hits and misses lie. Songs like “Vegas” by Doja Cat, “I Got A Feelin’ in My Body” by Stuart Price or even “Tupelo Shuffle” by Swae Lee and Diplo are excellent examples of remixing Elvis for a new generation. The songs are catchy and full of life, proving that the best remixes on the album are the ones that either emphasize the original rhythm of the song while adding on or sampling very little of the original Elvis song.

However a recurring problem on the album is that too many of the remixes on this album feel like bad SoundCloud creations by some bored college student. Nardo Wick’s remix of “In The Ghetto” uses far too much of the original song to the point where it grinds to a halt so that Wick can sing his own lyrics.

This is a recurring theme within the remixes on the album, as many feel like a lazy attempt at changing the song by throwing a basic beat over it and adding a little bit of a distortion effect. Listening to those poor remixes and then hearing the film mix of the classic Elvis song reminds listeners that there is a better rendition out there.

Overall, “Elvis (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” is not bad but it could have been much better given the legacy it is reflecting. While a modern remix or cover of Elvis is not bad as several songs prove, Luhrmann should have trusted the original material more and not tried to modernize every song in an attempt to reach a younger audience.

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