I haven’t seen Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby yet, but from what I’ve read about it, it seems like a pretty fitting movie for our times: a meditation on the spiritual dangers of decadent living, filmed in lovingly extravagant 3-D and screened for an audience whose insatiable desire to live beyond its means has helped push the earth to the very brink of economic and ecological catastrophe. But I have heard the movie’s soundtrack, and can more confidently assert that it pretty well reflects what’s happening in pop music right now. It has global superstars (Beyonce, Jay-Z, Jack White) getting moody and sleekly dark. It has songs by hipster-beloved acts (the XX, Lana Del Rey, Sia) that have found mainstream pop tastes bending to fit them. It has Will.i.am and Gotye.
And in “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got),” it has a pretty fantastic summation of pop’s current guiding creative philosophy, which is “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks and then put a club beat behind it.” It’s an admirable way of working, and it can produce great results, like Kanye’s recent excursions into basically making industrial music. But then sometimes you get Fergie and Q-Tip going in over a big-band jazz-influenced club beat by the guy who’s responsible for LMFAO’s biggest hits.