Whether you love or hate the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, there’s one fact that can’t be denied: the soundtracks are where it’s at.
I’m a sucker for a good romance story, but the truth of the matter is, the Fifty Shades of Grey series just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not coming at my opinion blindly either.
It’s safe to say I’ve given the series a fair shot.
I’ve trudged through two and a half of the books, sat through all three movies at the theater, and while I can see why some might find Ana and Christian’s love story utterly titilating, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s just not my cup of tea.
The latest installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed, hit theaters over the weekend just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Unsurprisingly, the third film in the franchise positively dominated the box office, where it pushed the franchise over the $1 billion threshold globally according to Box Office Mojo.
The world may be fascinated with how much money the franchise has raked in over the course of its lifetime, but the one thing that intrigues me way more than dollar signs is Republic Record’s ability to churn out some seriously great music as part of the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtracks.
Regardless of whether you hate the series with a fiery passion, or you’re under the impression that EL James’ books and the movies they’ve spawned are the best thing since sliced bread, I’m thoroughly convinced that there are two things we can all agree on:
1. The people over at Republic Records know how to put together a killer soundtrack.
2. They’re very good at selecting singles that can grow beyond the confines of the movie trilogy they’re made for.
Over the past few years, I’ve found myself anticipating the release of each and every Fifty Shades of Grey movie. And no, it’s not because I’m secretly itching for another chapter of Ana and Christian’s torrid love story.
Instead, it’s because I just can’t wait to see which artists the music supervisors tap to churn out another song that’s sure to be a bonafide hit.
From putting future super stars on the world’s radar, to making way for established fan favorites to collaborate, to bringing us sultry covers of old favorites, hitting play on each and every soundtrack when it drops has made for an incredibly fun listening experience.
I can honestly say it’s the one thing I’ll miss about the franchise now that its silver screen journey has come to an end.
Over the past week on Hypable, we’ve taken a deep dive into the commonalities between Fifty Shades and Twilight, ranked the films based solely on the trailers, and even written an entire article in defense of the trilogy.
Now, it’s time to shine a spotlight on the music that’s wormed its way into the hearts of many by grading the franchise’s four official singles. Why not rank each track on the soundtracks? We’re trying to keep things short and sweet here, guys– no need to pull a Twilight and drag things out longer than necessary!
‘Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)’ – The Weeknd
There’s just something about The Weeknd’s sultry slow jam that makes you sit up a bit straighter and lean in a bit closer as soon as you hear those opening chords invade your ears.
The coolest part about “Earned It” is that it stands alone as an amazing song even when it’s not being listened to as part of the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.
That’s probably why it might surprise some of you to know that The Weeknd (whose real name is Abel Tesfaye) actually wrote the song to scene for the film.
“He worked on a number of songs for a number of scenes. Some were working and some weren’t, but he just kept at it, and kept at it, and kept at it,” said president of film music and publishing at Universal, Mike Knobloch in an interview with BuzzFeed back in 2015. “In the end, he wrote ‘Earned It’ and it’s the biggest song of his career to date. It’s the only song that’s in the movie twice.”
‘Love Me Like You Do (Fifty Shades of Grey)’ – Ellie Goulding
“Earned It” and “Love Me Like You Do” were both released as singles for the first installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Both tracks may be about giving into desire, but my favorite thing about the singles is that they serve as juxtapositions to each other.
While “Earned It” is undeniably sultry with the way it unforgivably punctuates notes throughout its melody, “Love Me Like You Do” offers a softer approach thanks to Ellie Goulding’s breathy vocals and the sweeping electropop melody that slowly builds as you move further and further into the song.
While I thoroughly enjoy Goulding’s single, I found it a bit tough to rank. I ended up rating it a bit lower simply because for me, it doesn’t have as much staying power as a few of the other singles that have come from the soundtracks.
‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)’ – Zayn, Taylor Swift
I’m still not sure what we did right to deserve the epic collaboration that was Zayn and Taylor, but I do know that we’ve got none other than Fifty Shades Darker to thank for it.
Swift teamed up with frequent collaborator and Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff to bring us the ballad, which surprised many with the heavy R&B influence that courses just under those tantric electro-pop beats.
Zayn might have been an old hand when it comes to R&B, but leaning into that aspect of the single was definitely a new sound for Swift, who up until that point was still sticking with the pop narrative she’d set for herself with her previous album, 1989.
Despite the fact that Swift and Zayn are two completely different artists, at its core, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” works so well because it’s a perfect blend of both of their musical stylings.
‘For You (Fifty Shades Freed)’ – Rita Ora, Liam Payne
“For You” is the latest offering from the masterminds behind the Fifty Shades soundtracks, which pairs former 1D frontman Liam Payne with British pop star Rita Ora (who also happens to play Christina’s sister, Mia, in the trilogy).
It definitely looks like the plan was to try to recreate the magic of Zayn and Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” Unfortunately, the track doesn’t come nearly as close to touching the magic of the aforementioned previous single.
It’s not that there’s anything bad about the song — Payne and Ora deliver some seriously impressive silky smooth vocals throughout, and the synth-pop backbeat is definitely in line with what’s considered a bop on the radio these days.
At the same time, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it either.
What’s your favorite single from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtracks? Let us know in the comments below!