Fifty Shades Freed (Soundtrack) | Album Review
The ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ soundtrack, like the previous Fifty Shades soundtracks, is star-studded with something for everybody. This particular edition features a number of up-and-coming musicians.
Ah, Fifty Shades Freed – The Final Chapter – is upon us. Musically, it means that there is another star-studded soundtrack on deck. Fifty Shades Freed (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) has no shortage of stars dropping the ‘mood music’ for the film. This particular compilation features a number of up-and-coming musicians, which is great exposure. The results are too shabby either.
“I want to get louder / I got to get louder / We ‘bout to go up baby, up we go.” Hailee Steinfeld teams up with popular pop producer BloodPop® on the opener, “Capital Letters.” “Capital Letters” meets the expectations of an opener. The production is sleek, modern, and incredibly appealing. The gift of groove drives the record. Vocally, Steinfeld is cool, calm, collected, and sexy. She picks up the intensity on the chorus, excerpted above.
The ‘lead single’ of Fifty Shades Freed comes at the hands of Liam Payne and Rita Ora. “For You (Fifty Shades Freed) opens in a minor key, led by synth production. Vocally, Ora, who appears first, shines. Backed by a subtle groove initially, as things progress, the groove asserts itself more, as does Ora. As Liam arrives for a short second verse, there’s more production, and rhythm. Arguably “For You” is a smidge less memorable than the best Fifty Shades singles, but it’s still quite enjoyable.
Rising Canadian musician Black Atlass, shines on the moody, sensual “Sacrifice.” Further amplifying the performance is fellow Canadian musician, Jessie Reyez. Where Black Atlass sounds smoother, the coarser, biting tone of Reyez is a brilliant contrast. Keeping things on an upward trajectory is the ever-assertive Dua Lipa on “High.” Her expressive vocals, characterized by their grit, are on-point. She’s assisted by Whethan, who co-produces alongside John Hill.
Julia Michaels makes her first of two appearances on Fifty Shades Freed with “Heaven”. “Heaven” commences enigmatically, matching the vibe and sensibilities of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Vocally she sings expressively, showcasing the beauty of her voice sans over-singing. The production keeps things light – a selling point. Another selling point is the memorable chorus.
“Never Tear Us Apart”
20-year old Los Angeles-based musician Kiana Ledé ‘brings the heat’ on “Big Spender.” Assisted by Compton, California singer-songwriter, Prince Charlez, Ledé is unapologetic from the jump, which happens to be the chorus.
“Big baller, boujee shot caller / No f*ck boys allow in my aura / Missus wanna mister not for his dollar / If you’re tryna flex, don’t bother, ‘cause I’ma…”
Talented singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs gives the 1987 INXS gem, “Never Tear Us Apart”, new life. Legendary INXS frontman Michael Hutchence possessed a slightly lighter vocal tone compared to Briggs’. Other contrasts include a different key and slightly slower tempo. Briggs showcases her robust, expressive, and powerful vocals. From start to finish, she exhibits supreme command of this record.
“I wanna jack it, smack it / You know the shit that turns you on? / I wanna lick it, kiss it / I’ll give you everything you want.” #Damn Daniel, rather #Damn Spencer. The Spencer Lee Band shines on highlight “The Wolf”, which commences with a refreshing pop-soul groove. After setting the tone instrumentally, Spencer Lee enters in with biting, commanding lead vocals. The vibe is sexual early on, with the innuendo ‘turned up to next level’ on the pre-chorus (excerpted above). Lee follows the risqué pre-chorus with a catchy, continually soulful, chorus. Still on the second verse, The Spencer Lee Band continue to amplify the horniness.
“I watch you burn this place to ashes / Move that ass / And raise a glass to how you love to misbehave, baby.”
Julia Michaels was lucky enough to secure two songs on Fifty Shades Freed. “Are You” is the odder of the two. A bit repetitive, the smoothness of Michaels’ vocals is undeniable. Again, the sound fits the sensual sentiments of the film.
“Cross Your Mind”
21-year old Sabrina Claudio appears on the Latin-tinged “Cross Your Mind.” Claudio sings with incredible poise – nothing is forced. Regardless, she packs a punch. Her tone is simply gorgeous. Indie-pop standouts Miike Snow appears with the easy-going, mid-tempo “Change Your Mind.” While it’s easy on the ears, cool frontman Andrew Wyatt gets a bit ‘salty’ on the pre-chorus:
“At night, I’m trading, gold diamonds for stars / Blinded by fire, showing me who you are / Fuck it, fade away, child ‘til another day, child / Gotta keep my state of mind.”
Rising Zimbabwean singer-songwriter-poet Shungudzo serves up distinct vocals on the mid-tempo, sexy, soulful, dance number, “Come On Back.” Jessie J follows, bringing excellence to a contemporary version of the James Brown classic, “I Got You (I Feel Good).” It doesn’t beat the original, but Jessie J showcases great personality (and vocals), while DJ Camper does wonders on the boards. Samantha Gongol, a member of Marian Hill (“Down”) arrives for French number “Ta Meilleure Ennemie (Pearls).” Sexy and Sleekly produced, Gongol is assisted by co-writer Juliette Armanet.
“Deer in Headlights”
Sia makes her third appearance on the Fifty Shades soundtrack, following “Salted Wound” (Fifty Shades of Grey) and “Helium” (Fifty Shades Darker). “Deer in Headlights” falls ‘in the same boat’ as her previous offerings. It’s beautiful, dramatic, and thoughtfully executed. It’s not the most exciting cut, but among the most radiant. Louis the Child produces, infusing some serious groove and soulfulness on “Diddy Bop,” featuring the distinct, husky vocals of Jacob Banks. Fifty Shades Freed revisits one of the best and most popular records to appear on a Fifty Shades soundtrack. That would be the Ellie Goulding, Grammy-nominated “Love Me Like You Do,” which is parenthesized as the Fifty Shades Freed Version.
Like previous Fifty Shades soundtracks, excerpts from the Danny Elfman score appear. In this case, it’s “Freed,” followed by “Seeing Red.” Three bonus tracks follow. The first is a cover by Mr. Grey himself, Jamie Dornan, singing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” It’s enjoyable, but by no means game-changing. Sabrina Claudio reappears, delivering a Spanish version of “Cross Your Mind,” while Samantha Gongol also reappears for the English version of “Pearls.” All the bonus cuts are solid.
All in all, the soundtrack for Fifty Shades Freed is well-rounded. It’s a lengthy affair at nearly 90minutes in duration, but there’s something for everybody. Whether you are a fan of the franchise or not, this compilation is worthwhile on its own. That can’t be said about every soundtrack.
Gems: “Capital Letters,” “For You (Fifty Shades Freed),” “Sacrifice,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “The Wolf,” “Cross Your Mind” & “I Got You (I Feel Good)”
Various Artists • Fifty Shades Freed (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) • Republic • Release: 2.9.18
Photo Credit: Republic