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Week 39 | Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film (2001)

Bowie was involved, or at least his music was included, in many movie soundtracks.  This one is unique in a few ways.  Bowie contributed one song, “Nature Boy,” two versions of which appear on the soundtrack.  Beck covers a Bowie song, “Diamond Dogs,” on the album, and portions of “Heroes” are incorporated in a song performed by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, called “Elephant Love Medley.”  The rest of the album and the movie itself has nothing to do with Bowie.  

McGregor, an actor, portrayed an Iggy Pop-like character in the fictionalized movie about Bowie, “Velvet Goldmine.”  In it, he sings Iggy’s song, “TV Eye.”  So he is the only actor to cover both Iggy and Bowie in movies.  

Beck, being an actual rock star, does “Diamond Dogs” better.  The music is used only fleetingly in the movie and I’m not exactly sure why, but it is a good rendition.

As for Bowie’s actual contribution…it isn’t his best. “Nature Boy” was originally recorded by Nat King Cole in 1948.  It sounds like its from that era, and Bowie’s version doesn’t attempt to update the sound. Needless to say, it isn’t the type of song usually associated with Bowie.  Unlike his recording of, “Volare ,” for “Absolute Beginners,” there’s no humor in “Nature Boy.”  It’s just a straight up cover, which I find a little disappointing given some of the other content (such as Beck’s “Diamond Dogs” on the album).  Probably the most memorable song on the album is another cover, but not related to Bowie at all— “Lady Marmalade,” covered by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink.  I recall the song getting play at the time, with a lot of clucking about Labelle’s original version being better.  That might be so, but nobody was much talking about Bowie’s version of “Nature Boy,” so my that measure “Lady Marmalade” was more successful. 

All that said, the movie kids entertaining and the soundtrack is more than a collection of songs that appeared originally elsewhere, so it is worthwhile and holds a small place in the larger Bowie constellation.

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