Album review: Fifty Shades of Grey

The soundtrack's string of moody gems is ultimately let down by some lazy musical choices.

Fifty Shades of Grey souondstrack. Republic Records / AP Photo
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Fifty Shades of Grey

Various Artists

(Republic Records)

Two stars

With the hype surrounding the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation ever since the deal was signed in 2013, the success of its accompanying soundtrack was pretty much assured.

The only interesting discussion surrounding the compilation was whether it would go down the experimental route, as was the case with Trent Reznor's chilling score for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or go for crowd-­pleasing big names, as we heard with the soundtracks for The Hunger Games and Twilight films.

50 Shades is a mix of both – but the collection's moody gems are ultimately spoilt by some downright lazy musical choices.

The good stuff first: it is only fitting that Annie Lennox opens the proceedings. Those who saw her breathtaking performance of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins cover I Put a Spell on You at The Grammys should enjoy the studio version. Her expansive voice is spellbinding as she teeters on the edge of desperation and malice – two of the film's major themes – to the accompaniment of a barroom piano.

Laura Welsh's Undiscovered is monochromatic as she coos along with foreboding synths and brittle digital drums.

Welsh's UK countrywoman Jessie Ware pops in with Meet Me in the Middle, its anchoring bass groove and the sensual vocals going some way towards justifying the hype of her being touted as a future heir to Sade.

Sia's eerie Salted Wounds confirms the Aussie hitmaker's panache for conjuring evocative melodies from quirky arrangements. The lyrics also speak of the paradox of the film's central character, the brooding businessman Christian Grey: "Turn her on with how you feel/ Give her everything she needs to hear/ Give your heart, and say come take it/ And she will see you're a good man. "

Despite these winning and thoughtful contributions, the soundtrack throws away its promise by succumbing to the bean-counters.

This means we don't have one but two old Beyoncé tracks, Haunted and Crazy in Love, that are given a moody remix. The former, from her 2013 self-titled album, raises some interest, with the producer Michael Diamond adding a throbbing trip-hop beat to the ­proceedings.

The Rolling Stones' 1978 classic Beast of Burden sounds incongruous among the mix; the track's popularity has diluted its originally menacing appeal and now feels more like a mere toe-­tapper.

Ironically, one classic that should have remained untouched was Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire. Awolnation's remix doesn't add anything to The Boss's 1985 track other than a growling synth-line.

By the time Skylar Grey's affecting power ballad I Know You billows through towards the end, the soundtrack's unevenness has disappointed and any dark thrills promised have been positively neutered.