One inspired moment of the film Romeo & Juliet was hearing Prince's "When Doves Cry" sung by Quindon Tarver. Baz Luhrman put together something so unique and moving that since then any soundtrack he has a hand in is worth a listen. His musical take on turn of the century Paris is as creative, romantic and fun as expected.
Though much commercial buzz has been focussed on the catchy "Lady Marmalade" with the Four Whores of the Apocalypse: Cristina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya and Pink, this is hardly the strongest cover.
Beck's haunting reconfiguration of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" is excellent, and Bono and Gavin Friday have a successful time of it on T-Rex's classic, "Children of the Revolution". On the same token I never thought I'd hear Debarge's ' "Rhythm of the Night" so soon into the new millenium. Ewan McGregor shows off his strong pipes on a heartfelt version of Elton John's "Your Song". Only here can Police's "Roxanne" turn into a bawdy tango and David Bowie's cover of "Nature Boy" transform into a beautiful show tune.
Oddly there are no French singers or songs except for a somewhat simple "Complainte De La Butte" by Rufus Wainwright. Why Zazie, Francoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg ("Lemon Incest" would be a great candidate for Parisian debauchery) or even Daft Punk aren't here seems strange. Though it's nice to be spared from a typical French song to ensure we know we're in Paris (i.e. "La Vie En Rose"), a little something would have been nice.
The medleys that Luhman has fashioned are another serious highlight. Nicole Kidman and costar Ewan McGregor both have surprising ranges, and she does a formidable job on "Sparkling Diamonds" which is basically Manriyn Monroe's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" with a sly touch of Madonna's "Material Girl". My most favorite song is a duet between McGregor and Kidman. "Elephant Love Medley" takes snippets from the big love songs of the past thirty years and turns them into a cat and mouse between the two lovers. Who thought combining "All You Need is Love", "Pride (In the Name of Love)", "I Will Always Love You", and "Heroes" among other songs could create such a wonderful song?
Moulin Rouge merits attention for its unapologetic celebration of love songs. It works because they're actually good.