The soundtrack in Baz Lurhmann’s “Elvis” is immersive, and Austin Butler’s performance is visually arresting. The movie demands to be heard as much as it does to be seen.
The film alternates between Butler’s singing, Elvis Presley’s voice, and recently released renditions of the King’s famous songs, such as Kacey Musgraves’ cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” thanks to the tight collaboration between composer Elliott Wheeler and music editor Jamieson Shaw.
Presley’s voice, according to Wheeler, was mixed in when necessary after Butler recorded every word of every performance seen in the movie. If we did use Elvis takes, Wheeler continues, we had to snip portions of Austin’s performance. We frequently used Austin-specific breathing patterns, grunts, and body gestures before switching to Elvis.
Audiences will hear Butler’s voice most of the time, but Presley’s voice is used more in the second part of the movie. Austin performs everything up until 1968 while elegant dressed in black leather, according to Wheeler. Everything that came after that was Elvis, which was in part due to the high-quality stems (stereo recordings derived from mixes of numerous component tracks, such as drums, vocals, and bass) we were employing in this instance.
Wheeler says, “We would figure out where every breath came because we could isolate all the other stems.” Additionally, Wheeler and Polly Bennett, a movement specialist, looked at how Presley’s body movement affected his voice singing. We would watch Austin embrace all of that and perfect the technique because if he were to swing his arm, it would impair his singing.
Shaw and Wheeler combined components from many Elvis tracks from across his discography. For instance, Shaw incorporated elements from “Edge of Reality” and “I Got a Feelin’ in My Body” into a brand-new musical composition.
With regard to the classics, Wheeler observes that “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was used as a motif to symbolise the romance between Elvis and Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge). The couple is heard kissing as the Musgraves version, which was reduced to piano and vocals, is played. At the conclusion, it is utilised once more at a moving storytelling moment.
The opening scene of the movie was Wheeler’s favourite to score. As the narrative progresses from Presley’s birth to his performance at the hayride, he explains, “It’s called the flyaway weave.”
Sam Bell, Presley’s childhood friend, who Luhrmann spoke with, according to Wheeler, helped to inform that portion of the narrative. Elvis used to attend these Pentecostal churches, and we would always find him near the front of the assembly, he stated to Baz. All those motions would be made by him. Additionally, he frequented juke joints.
The sequence in which Gary Clark Jr. as Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup sings “That’s Alright Mama” was inspired by that nugget of information. It was a chance for the movie to visually and sonically convey to the audience the origins of Presley’s song.
When Elvis enters the stage, there is a grand symphonic moment, according to Wheeler. The Pentecostal and classic Elvis records were combined in that scene, which had all the necessary components for doing so. It’s a six-minute passage that crams a lot of storytelling into a small period of time, he continues.
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