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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Watching (and Listening to) ‘Elvis’

Kate Rice


Somewhere in my 30s, I started digging some of Elvis’s earlier music. I mean, dude was inspired by R&B, Rockabilly and Gospel genres (just to name a few) and, coupled with his amazing soul and voice, he recorded some kickin’ tunes. 

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis tells the story of the King’s life, beginning with his humble (re: dirt poor) childhood. From being discovered, launched into an insane amount of fame, (mis)managed, spending time in the service and meeting Priscilla, comebacks and more, Luhrmann delivers his usual glitter and flash. 

The story’s interesting, thanks to its subjects and the stars who portray them. Austin Butler’s Elvis is good-natured, sweet, and sexy until (as the character’s life story dictates), he wasn’t. And he’s got the gyrations and hip swivels down to a (very fine) art. Tom Hanks plays Colonel Tom Parker, the manager who bent Elvis over financially. I’m not accustomed to disliking a Tom Hanks character, but this guy, as the movie portrays him, is pretty much a tool. Hanks’s portrayal is good (I mean, the accent’s heavy but consistent, so that’s cool…I guess?) because he’s Tom Hanks. But the Colonel really boned Elvis personally and fiscally. 

I’m not usually a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s directing — all the glitz and glamor. However, it works pretty well for this story. What I do like are Baz Luhrmann soundtracks, and this one’s probably my favorite. It’s a mix (and in many instances, remix) of Elvis tunes, plus other artists’ gospel, blues, country and rock, with a few gorgeous ballads thrown in for good measure. 

I’ve been obsessed with the soundtrack for days. There are some songs for Elvis purists, but there are a lot of remixes and mashups that breathe new life into old favorites. Some might not like it — I do. A few standout covers are Shonka Dukureh’s “Hound Dog,” Yola’s “Strange Things are Happening Every Day,” and Kacey Musgraves’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” And I love the songs that Austin Butler voices himself — “Baby, Let’s Play House,” “Hound Dog,” “Vegas Rehearsal/That’s All Right,” and my personal fave, “Trouble.” If listening to this collection over and over is wrong, yo, I don’t wanna be right.

If you’re at all interested in a reimagining of Elvis’s meteoric rise to fame and subsequent crash, you’ll probably enjoy Elvis. And if you wanna listen to a collection chock full of the King, his portrayer, and great gospel, blues, R&B, Hip-Hop and ballads, listen to the Elvis soundtrack on Spotify, or search iTunes, Amazon, or downtown’s Sonic Rainbow for options to own this brilliant album.