British writer/director Steve McQueen's 2011 film Shame concerns Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a contemporary New Yorker who is a sex addict. For music, McQueen turned to composer Harry Escott, but also included a variety of standards from a variety of musical genres including classical, dance, jazz, and blues. Escott's three cues on the soundtrack album are slow, sad orchestral pieces, almost ambient in their quietude. Their tone is matched by the several excerpts from classical pianist Glenn Gould's celebrated performances of Bach's "Goldberg Variations." Like those tracks, many of the inclusions from pop styles are the kinds of recordings that already are, or should be, in the Grammy Hall of Fame, such as John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" and Chet Baker's "Let's Get Lost" from the jazz realm; post-new wave ‘80s dance-pop favorites "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club and "Rapture" by Blondie; and Howlin' Wolf's "You Can't Be Beat." Also, actress Carey Mulligan, who co-stars as Brandon's sister Sissy, sings an unusual slow voice-and-piano arrangement of the theme from the film New York, New York, one that has none of the bravado of Frank Sinatra or Liza Minnelli, but turns it into an intimate, reflective song. A viewing of Shame is required to understand how all this music works together, but the individual recordings are classics in their own right.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann