My absolute favorite version of Romeo & Juliet is the Baz Luhrman film from 1996 with Leonardo DiCaprio, Harold Perrineau, and John Leguizamo.Claire Danes wasn’t a standout for me, so it’s only thanks to IMDb that she’s getting a shoutout.
Some people don’t like this version, but I love every piece and particle of it. It’s so wild and colorful, and very 90s to the point of relatability. It makes me feel like I feel when I watch The Wiz. I can’t explain it well, but maybe avant garde works here. All I know is, I appreciate Baz Luhrman’s vision. I appreciated it with Romeo + Juliet, with the first half of The Get Down, and with The Great Gatsby even though I couldn’t finish it after that scene with Daisy. It’s like he creates things just to entice my mind.
That being said, I also loved quite a few songs from Romeo + Juliet’s soundtrack, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
This version of Kym Mazelle’s “Young Hearts Run Free” is a remix of her original disco song that I feel was done for this movie, but I’m not in a mood to go and look it up. The song is mostly about not being tied down in your twenties, and, if you do find yourself being tied down, reclaiming your independence.
I like where the song is used in the film because the scene with Mercutio performing to it while dressed in drag is one that hasn’t left me since I was 8. Harold Perrineau’s Mercutio was such a commanding presence throughout the movie that you can’t help but be mesmerized by him.
I can never remember if it was Quindon Tarver or Tevin Campbell who was the Prince protege’, but this version of “When Doves Cry” was an absolute revelation. The notes that he hit were perfection, the rhythm was fire. I cannot get over how great this song turned out to be.
I like that the person who made this video focused on the relationship between Romeo and his parents for the first part of it. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo is the errant youth who does not want to fall in line with the rest of his family. Which is par the course for any Romeo, but the way DiCaprio does it really makes you feel sad for his parents when he dies.
Quindon Tarver makes another appearance on the soundtrack, and in the actual movie, with “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” during Juliet’s secret wedding to Romeo.
Last but not least, is my absolute favorite, Des’ree’s “I’m Kissing You” is timeless, I don’t care what anyone says. It’s the love theme in the time of love themes, I feel. The fish bowl scene is made iconic because of it.
To me, this song is a wedding song, so it’s a little interesting that it’s not used during the actual wedding, but I don’t feel like the impact would have been the same. Having “I’m Kissing You” play during the fish bowl scene gives credence to the love at first sight angle of the play. The lyrics are beautiful, but the sound is kind of sad, so it really fits a tragic romance.
This song should have been much more popular than it was. It screams wedding in a ballroom.
Thank you for joining me again for another #MusicMonday. Here’s an extra video in honor of it being May 4th.
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