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Moulin Rouge is one of my favourite all time films, and was also one of the first films that my husband and I saw at the cinema together when we first dated many years ago, so as we both loved the film, I bought him a copy of the soundtrack to the film. Naturally, we have listened to this together many times over the years as it is a lovely romantic film, and the music from it brings back many memories to share. It is like the film, an album that never bores us. It might seem a strange collection of tracks to anyone who hasn't seen the film, but for those who have, this is telling the same love story as you listen to it.
For fans of the film, the opening track of Nature Boy by David Bowie is perfect, as it is similar to the opening of the film, and to emphasise this fact there is a clip of Ewan McGregor as Christian, an English writer who falls in love with the singer at the Moulin Rouge, Satine. The ballad describes a boy wandering from his home, who discovers 'the greatest thing is to be loved, and to love in return.' It is an old ballad written in 1947, performed hauntingly by Bowie, and something that sets the scene well for the movie. I cannot listen to this without picturing Christian sat at his typewriter in his dingy Parisian room.
After this slow start, we are thrown into the more catchy Lady Marmalade performed by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink. This was a song I'd loved when All Saints covered it, but I adored it even more when hearing this Moulin Rouge specific cover, feeling I could particularly pick out Lil Kim and Aguilera's style within the track. I think the ladies really conveyed the attitude and sexiness of the Moulin Rouge within their performance, and it has a bit of a rap/rock vibe to it. It certainly still feels rather modern now to me hearing it 12 years after its original release.
I like how we are then thrown into another song with a strong beat. Here, Because We can by Fatboy Slim sounds a little faster to me than the version in the film, but has the distinct sound of a Fatboy Slim track with the way it is mixed (which to me sounds a bit like Praise You.). Yet, somehow, by sampling Jim Broadbent as Zidler (manager of the Moulin Rouge) I can really detect that characters intonation, and its fast pace really makes my heart race with two such strong tracks in a row. Described as a modern Can Can, I can certainly imagine people dancing to this track.
It is almost a relief to calm down slightly when you move into the slightly slower opening of Sparkling Diamonds Melody directly taking from the film, majorly featuring Nicole Kidman as Satine and Jim Broadbent again. Kidman's voice is strong, and a far cry from her duet with Robbie Williams, here she is fully believable as a cabaret singer. The song features a mashed up version of Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend and Material Girl. While no Monroe or Madonna, Kidman owns this song with her slightly cheeky rendition, with her cat calls in the middle and the backing of the Moulin Rouge singers.
Rythym of the Night performed here by Valeria Andrews has a strong pop feel that makes me think of a Costa Rican party with the strong beat of the track. It suits the mood of a party and is performed excellently here. It sets the scene that the Moulin Rouge is a place people can go to to forget everything else while they are there. (This is the 80s pop version, not to be confused with the 90s dance version. )
Your Song is another song that immediately makes me think of this film. It may have originally been written and performed by Elton John, but the way Ewan McGregor performs this is quite moving to me. I find there is a real sweetness to his voice where he really seems to have taken on the character of Christian. It is his love ballad to Satine, where he is realising how in love with her he is. This is beautifully enhanced with the operatic voice of Alessandro Safino, whose deeper voice really complements the clarity of McGregor. It is quite an uplifting song for me about possibility when you are falling in love - anything can happen.
Children of the Revolution is quite a mood changing track - sounding quite true to the original T-Rex track, but performed by Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer. This track for me feels a bit out of place listening to the CD alone, but thinking of the film while listening, I can picture the fight that the characters have to share their love behind the backs of the managers of the Moulin Rouge.
One Day I'll Fly Away (again performed by Kidman) is Satine's own soulful ballad. This song is very powerfully performed, and Kidman actually has quite an impressive voice. I feel tingles along my spine listening to this and thinking about her characters battle to choose which path to take in life.
Diamond Dogs is another Bowie song, covered here by Beck. The opening reminds me a bit of the modern song, Word Up. The staccato feel to this track, he guitar based track, and changing from a female to male vocalist really shifts the mood, leaving me with a bit of a feeling of confusion. Very similar to this point in the story.
The Elephant Love Melody is another mash up as performed in the film. It is performed between McGregor and Kidman and features them singing lines from various very familiar love songs to each other. They debate whether they have a chance of a love affair through the use of the lyrics, and I enjoy tremendously the cleverness in lyrics chosen from the abundance available to them. Here, it is easy to pick out songs like All You Need is Love, Don't Leave Me This Way, Love Lift Us up, Heroes, I Will Always Love You. There are more, but I'll leave that for the listener to discover as that is where the fun is for me in this track. McGregor here for me is the stronger performer here - more consistently in tune and with correct power in his voice.
Come What May is the only song which is an original song for the soundtrack, though interestingly not written with this film in mind, it was written for the slightly earlier Romeo and Juliet musical and not used. It is performed many times in the film, often only the one line song, Come What May, to say that the characters will love each other whatever difficulties were in their way. It is another beautiful heartfelt ballad and McGregor and Kidman complement each other well in it. The mood of the CD is beginning to turn a bit more sombre.
El Tango De Roxanne is one of the most dramatic tracks on the whole CD. Based on the track by The Police, Roxanne, and performed in the style of an Argentine Tango, there is a lot of power and emotion within this track. This is such a change in style from the pop songs used throughout the song. I always feel proper Tango music is very dramatic anyway, but it suits the raw voice performing Roxanne very well. McGregor's vocals in comparison to this sound really make you picture the torment he is going through, particularly against the harsh scratchy sound of the violin. It feels really urgent and dangerous, and strongly climatic.
Complainte De La Butte is a bit more fairytale sounding. Sung in French and English, it reminds me more of a more gentle dance, like a viennese waltz, and encompasses how the characters feel after Satine is rescued. I am fine with the inclusion of this track, though it seems a bit slow between the two tracks that it is sandwiched between.
Here I really do think there is a track missing - The Show Must Go on is a big part of the film when Satine discovers she must leave Christian and return to the show, and its absence here to me is sad because Kidman performs it well in the film and it is important to the story of this musical film. Instead we move onto a performance of a song from the play being performed at the Moulin Rouge.
Hindi Sad Diamonds is a Bollywood style version of some of the songs seen at the opening scene in the original Moulin Rouge show such as Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend, with samples of tracks like Chamma Chamma which gives it the authentic Hindi sound. This is a song that is tinged with sadness, and for me lacks a bit of the energy of this song in the film, focussing instead on Satine's mood.
We end the CD with the first two tracks, Nature Boy and Lady Marmalade - again, true to the film, indicating that we have come full circle in the tale of Christian and Satine. The performances are both different editions so it is not too repetitive. Nature Boy is performed by Bowie and Massive Attack, so although vocally very similar, there is a musical effect in the performance that gives this an echoey feel that always makes me feel a bit like I am swimming underwater, which emphasises how lost the characters feel at this point in the movie.
The Lady Marmalade is a thunderpuss radio mix - to me it sounds a bit faster with a bit of a Cuban type beat over the top of it. I prefer the original mix here if I am honest, but something is needed here after Nature boy to stop it ending on too much of a depressing note.
This is a strange CD to evaluate. For a fan of the show myself, it virtually does remind you of the whole story with the combination of tracks included, but I do feel one or two tracks should have been included for me. This is about an hour of music from a film that lasts only a bit longer, so perhaps I am expecting too much. The booklet inlaid within this CD is a lovely reminder of the film. Alongside the credits to the 16 tracks used, there are pictures of stills from the film featuring the themes of truth, beauty, freedom and love from the film. It really is beautifully coloured to look a bit more like an early colour film. For me, a very original booklet.
I think anyone who was not a fan of this film would not get a lot out of this CD with its strange mix of tracks and mash ups of songs, and you need the emotional interaction with it to make sense.
For me its a 4 star track, yet I can see others might give it 3 or 2 stars. However, as it is my review, I am going to give this a glowing recommendation from me and say perhaps you should watch the film first before trying this soundtrack CD. Every track is there to convey an emotion, and it is a CD that gets me involved in pretty much every track as the story is retold through song.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Lady Marmalade (Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink)
2 Diamond Dogs (Beck with Timbaland)
3 Children Of The Revolution (Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer)
4 Nature Boy (David Bowie and Massive Attack )
5 Le Tango de Roxanne (Cast w/ Jose Felicaino )
6 Because We Can (Fatboy Slim )
7 Sparkling Diamonds (Nicole Kidman )
8 One Day I'll Fly Away (Nicole Kidman)
9 Rhythm Of The Night (Valeria)
10 Hindi Sad Diamonds (Nicole Kidman w/ Cast )
11 Your Song (Ewan McGregor )
12 Elephant Love Medley (Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman )
13 Come What May (Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman)
14 Compliante de la Butte (Rufus Wainwright )
15 Lady Marmalade (Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink Thunderpuss Radio Mix )