Elvis soundtrack | Why the music for Baz Luhrmann’s new film has so much hype

With Austin Butler’s cover of ‘Trouble’ out today, we look at the hype around the star-studded soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis­.

Elvis review

With Austin Butler’s cover of ‘Trouble’ out today, we look at the hype around the star-studded soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis­.

Making a soundtrack for a film about the King of Rock n’ Roll might seem an obvious one: simply use the music made by Elvis himself. That is, of course, once you’ve acquired permission from his estate – something the forthcoming Elvis biopic, released next Friday, has been able to do.

Then again, this is a Baz Luhrmann project. He’s a master of pizzazz. Of course it wouldn’t be that simple. It was reported in The Times over the weekend that the Australian director, known for The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge, among other glitzy spectacles, used the influences of Harry Styles and Mick Jagger when devising his latest film.

Those names unfortunately don’t feature on the soundtrack. But there are some impressive ones we do know – some of which have already been released, as we shimmy n’ shake our way to the film’s release date (the same day of the soundtrack’s full release).


Last month, Doja Cat released ‘Vegas’, which samples Elvis’ 1956 hit ‘Hound Dog’ (which in turn was reworked version of a 1952 track recorded by Big Mama Thornton). It’s a clear example of how Luhrmann’s project unashamedly seeks to combine the old with the new, the classics with the current.

The Great Gatsby achieved much the same with its soundtrack, with contemporary artists like Lana Del Rey and Sia releasing tracks that hark back to the past, re-imagining the 1920s; a modern hand that pulls you back in time. This also showed the commercial potential for such a soundtrack using high-profile features. Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young and Beautiful’, for instance, is her most-streamed song on Spotify, with just shy of 660 million streams.

So who are the other features on Elvis? Here’s who we know: 2021 Eurovision winners Måneskin, Tame Impala, Jack White, Denzel Curry, Kacey Musgraves and even the legendary Stevie Nicks.

Eminem & Ceelo Green also team up for a new track titled ‘The King And I’, which is produced by none other than Dr. Dre (though of course, this isn’t too much of a surprise given his frequent collaborations with Eminem).

This addition seems somewhat fitting as comparison of the rapid rise to stardom for both Eminem and Elvis Presley is nothing new. Eminem, too, references The King in his 2002 track ‘Without Me’. “No I’m not the first king of controversy / I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley,” Slim Shady chimed.

What’s most interesting about this assortment of high-calibre stars, though, is the sheer diversity of genre. There’s rock. There’s rap. There’s country. If the idea was to showcase the influence Elvis had, this certainly acts as a signifier. The combination of contemporary sounds to soundtrack a representation of the past serves as a reminder to appreciate the more timeless works of art, whilst having such artists as Stevie Nicks and Tame Impala onboard is enough to warrant intrigue.

Indeed, the sheer brazenness of such a collection of genre-spanning features is something only Luhrmann and a very select few could pull off. As New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan, who saw the film premiere at Cannes, recently Tweeted: “I told someone that Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS interpolates an Elvis song with “Backstreet’s Back” and Britney’s “Toxic” and he looked at me gobsmacked. But I was shocked he was shocked! It’s Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS! That’s practically the center square of the bingo card!” Combine the anticipation around a Luhrmann film with the very fact it’s a music biopic and the soundtrack inevitably gains a plateful of anticipation – an amount worthy of The King himself, a well-known gorger.

And to see just what’s being served, the full track list surfaced via Apple Music last week, which you can see below.

  1. Suspicious Minds (Vocal Intro) – Elvis Presley
    2. Also Sprach Zarathustra/An American Trilogy – Elvis Presley
    3. Vegas – Doja Cat
    4. The King and I – Eminem & CeeLo Green
    5. Tupelo Shuffle – Swae Lee & Diplo
    6. I Got A Feelin’ In My Body – Elvis Presley & Stuart Price
    7. Craw-Fever – Elvis Presley
    8. Don’t Fly Away (PNAU Remix) – Elvis Presley & 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 – Stevie Nicks & Chris Isaak
    13. Baby, Let’s Play House – Austin Butler
    14. I’m Coming Home (Film Mix) – Elvis Presley
    15. Hound Dog – Shonka Dukureh
    16. Tutti Frutti – Les Greene
    17. Strange Things Are Happening Every Day – Yola
    18. Hound Dog – Austin Butler
    19. Let It All Hang Out – Denzel Curry
    20. Trouble – Austin Butler
    21. I Got A Feelin’ In My Body – Lenesha Randolph
    22. Edge of Reality (Tame Impala Remix) – Elvis Presley & Tame Impala
    23. Summer Kisses / In My Body – Elvis Presley
    24. ’68 Comeback Special (Medley) – Elvis Presley
    25. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child – Jazmine Sullivan
    26. If I Can Dream (Stereo Mix) – Elvis Presley
    27. Any Day Now – Elvis Presley
    28. Power of My Love – Elvis Presley & Jack White
    29. Vegas Rehearsal / That’s All Right – Austin Butler & Elvis Presley
    30. Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
    31. Polk Salad Annie (Film Mix) – Elvis Presley
    32. Burning Love (Film Mix) – Elvis Presley
    33. It’s Only Love – Elvis Presley
    34. Suspicious Minds – Paravi
    35. In the Ghetto (World Turns Remix) – Elvis Presley & Nardo Wick
    36. Unchained Melody (Live at Ann Arbor, MI) – Elvis Presley

It’s a strong list and no doubt bodes as much anticipation as the film itself, which is out in cinemas next Friday, 24th June.

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