Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Fifty Shades Of Grey by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Feb 22, 2015, 1:46 PM by Koray Savas

Fifty Shades Of Grey sort of became this cultural phenomenon back in 2012 when Vintage Books acquired the publishing rights of E.L. James' erotic novel. In the same year, two sequel books were published. Readers latched on to the explicit sex scenes involving bondage and other acts of that nature. So it was only a matter of time before it became a Valentine's Day movie, right? Sam Taylor-Johnson directs, and while the film looks to be a by-the-numbers sexual thriller, the choice of Danny Elfman as composer did strike me as an interesting and inspired selection. 

Elfman is easily one of the most diverse film composers out there, having really branched out of his comfort zone in the past few years. Unfortunately, not a lot of those experiments turned out that well, and his music for Fifty Shades Of Grey more or less falls in line with those past efforts. With that being said, the score's sound is truly unique for Elfman. His blend of rhythmic guitar and electronics with lush strings and ostinatos really fits well for this film, and the inclusion of drums for percussion adds another layer to the melody. His music for 2009's Notorious is the only other example I can think of where he takes on a similar musical palette, but otherwise listeners never get to hear him play around with this style of instrumentation. The main theme gets a pretty good workout, and is sprinkled throughout the album; while "Ana's Theme" falls on the unremarkable side and its lack of development actually prevents the score from slowing down. There is a nice propulsion and energy to the music that keeps it interesting. It flows very nicely and makes everything easier to digest, and once it hits the random choral track of "Bliss," things wind down to a closing send-off in "Variations On A Shade."

Fifty Shades Of Grey isn't a particularly noteworthy score, but coming from Danny Elfman, I cannot help but marvel at the style and effort put into a project such as this one. Putting all the pornographic subject matter of the actual film aside, the music retains a steamy contemporary Basic Instinct vibe that one doesn't hear too often in movies these days. The main theme is simple, melodic, and gets some fantastic development through the album, not to mention its own lengthy cue. That one has all of the score's main ingredients for a quick fix of what Elfman accomplished here.