The marketing of "Fifty Shades of Grey," the movie, has been pitch-perfect, right down to the snippet of Beyoncé's slowed-down, Lana Del Rey-ified "Crazy in Love" used to set the tone.
Between that trailer and the stylish singles from The Weeknd and Ellie Goulding that arrived before the movie and the soundtrack, it seemed like this could be a big deal -- a project that could bring alt-R&B, with its mix of warm, soulful vocals and icy, electronic beats, to the mainstream.
However, upon closer inspection, the "Fifty Shades of Grey" soundtrack (Universal/Republic) isn't all that impressive.
Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh. Oh no no.
The over-dramatic, breathy vocals in Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" work well in the commercial, but as a whole, the crawling pace of the remix feels like a slog as it nears the four-minute mark. The remix drains all the charm and giddiness of the original.
It's a problem that also affects Sia's "Salted Wound," which sounds like a leftover from her "1000 Forms of Fear" album, and Skylar Grey's "I Know You." Of course, those issues seem minor once confronted with AWOLNATION's ham-fisted cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire."
It's too bad really, because Goulding's soaring "Love Me Like You Do" is sweet, catchy, near-perfect rom-com fare, matched nicely by Vaults' "One Last Night." And The Weeknd's contributions -- the steamy "Earned It" and the cool, spare "Where You Belong" -- should make him the big winner on the soundtrack.
The "Fifty Shades" soundtrack suffers by comparison to the Lorde-curated soundtrack to "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" or any number of Alexandra Patsavas-helmed projects, including the "Twilight" soundtracks. The haphazard collection -- a Frank Sinatra track here, a Rolling Stones track there, a couple bits of Danny Elfman's score tacked onto the end -- makes you wonder what other corners were cut in the movie.
THE GRADE B-