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by Barry Walters

January 4, 2014

The Music of 'American Hustle'

by Barry Walters  |  January 4, 2014

Like the Martin Scorsese rock 'n' pop-packed films it apes, David O. Russell's crime comedy American Hustle uses music not just for mood, but also to provide clues about its characters' inner lives. An ornately combed-over and uncharacteristically pudgy Christian Bale, a red hot Amy Adams one tiny undulation away from baring her breasts, and a brash Bradley Cooper almost as tightly wired as his perm make their way through Manhattan's swank Plaza Hotel. And although all three flaunt confidence via their nearly synchronized struts and the sartorial/tonsorial boldness of the '70s, we know they're actually secretly downtrodden and sad from the baleful tones of Steely Dan's "Dirty Work." We know they're eventually gonna get screwed.

Heavy on the classic rock, pop and disco of its era but outfitted with sharp left turns like Duke Ellington's "Jeep's Blues" and a newly recorded Arabic version of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," the music of American Hustle is bombastic yet also finely detailed, like the symphonic sounds of Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne, whose obscurities feature throughout. The actual soundtrack album mysteriously leaves off "Dirty Work," and so we've restored it here along with an amazing all-female cover of "Good Times Bad Times," which, in its Led Zeppelin original, was featured in the trailer but left off the film. We've also added an additional hour of similarly dramatic yet melodic cuts not heard on the soundtrack to sustain the movie's melodramatic but always clever farce. See the film and figure out why they're here.

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