The Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack is a disappointment. Sure, there are hard-hitting musicians — Liam Payne, Rita Ora and Julia Michaels — but the star power is masked with repetitive tunes and colorless lyrics.
The album’s first track, “Capital Letters,” is an upbeat and perky Hailee Steinfeld single that fails to fit in with the dark, erotic nature of the movie. It’s a safe and repetitive ode to the era of bubblegum music, with electronic-pop undertones.
The accompanying scene, both unrealistic and unfitting for a soft-porn erotica, portrays the Greys jet-setting across the world on a whim, dining in fancy restaurants and making out on rooftops with a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Likewise, “For You,” the Ora and Payne single, follows a similar pattern. Ora’s feminine voice and Payne’s raspy vocals pair nicely, as do the muffled, acoustic undertones. However, the overused lyrics — “Been waiting for a lifetime for ya” — echo like a broken record on replay. It’s applicable considering Ana and Christian have finally tied the knot and overcome their elusive ways to live happily ever-after, but for a hit track it’s frankly annoying.
The repetitive and underwhelming “For You” and “Capital Letters” make for decent filler music. The proceeding tracks — cataclysmic misuses of sound and beat.
“High” by Whethan and Dua Lipa, both boring and forgettable, lacks singable lines other than “Don’t we get a little highhhh,” which stretches on like a screaming child. “Big Spender” by Kiana Ledé sounds like Travie McCoy circa 2010 with Caribbean undertones. While it makes for excellent pool party background music, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“Sacrifice” by Black Atlass is one of the better songs of the album. Its slow, sensual beat makes for a symphony of ear-pleasing sounds. But Jessie Reyez’s nasally vocals come in at 1:31 and totally kill the vibe.
The album attempts to diversify, toying with various beats, undertones and languages. There’s the French single, “Ta Meilleure Ennemie,” accompanied with irritating whistle sounds. While it has the potential to be a hit, it’s unsingable for frankly any non-French speaker. Additionally, “The Wolf,” a disco-esque single by The Spencer Lee Band, is an animal-like take on the 1970s. It’s fitting, considering Christian’s aggressive nature, but disjointed and lacking in intensity.
One of the biggest upsets of the album is Sia’s “Deer in Headlight.” It’s a heartfelt ballad with beautiful piano and violin undertones. Sia is a powerhouse, but “Deer in Headlights” is slow-moving and somewhat melancholic. It’s also choppy with multiple pauses between stanzas, much like Ana and Christian’s on-and-off relationship. The song is fitting, considering the unexpected nature in which the pair fell in love, but it’s no “Chandelier.”
Fortunately, Michaels’ beautiful electronic pop phenom, “Heaven,” almost makes up for all the disappointment. “Heaven” is the nicest-sounding song on the soundtrack. It’s different and catchy, and the lyrics are thoughtful. Most importantly, it has the most sex appeal and passion with sweet, sumptuous “ooh” undertones that mimic a comforting, sexual lullaby. Michaels soulfully recites, “They say all good boys go to heaven/But bad boys bring heaven to you,” an authentic representation of sex-crazed, alpha-male Christian. “Heaven” is a satisfying track I’d willingly listen to on repeat.
The soundtrack also triumphs with its modernized “I Got You (I Feel Good)” mashup by Jessie J. It’s a fresh, energized take on the overused James Brown original. At times, the mixing transitions so phenomenally, it sounds like a new song. There’s some piano undertones mixed with gospel, electronic mashups and jazz.
Despite listenable moments, Fifty Shades Freed is a frustrating variation of sounds, themes and lyrics. I expected the album to impress and mimic the effortless sex appeal of the Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades soundtracks. Both Shades and Darker not only produced hit singles such as “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” and “Earned It,” but also featured killer vocals from artists like ZAYN, The Weeknd, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. Freed had a lot to live up to, and I simply expected more.