If the soundtrack to Fifty Shades of Grey -- EL James' Twilight fan fiction-turned-erotic literature sensation -- is any indication, Sam Taylor-Johnson decided to tackle the tricky problem of dramatizing the book's sex scenes by swapping seduction for S&M. Apart from Danny Elfman's cheekily titled "Did That Hurt?" -- a selection from the score that closes the album -- there isn't any musical indication that Fifty Shades of Grey plays with taboos. Although Beyonce taps into a bit of dark, creepy sexuality via remixes of "Haunted" and "Crazy in Love," a vibe the Weeknd trumps with his originals "Earned It" and "Where You Belong," most of this is textbook big-screen sex -- all slow, slinky beats and glistening surfaces, the sound that scored nearly every seduction movie that followed in the wake of Adrian Lyne's 9 ½ Weeks. A couple of the selections are indeed very familiar from this kind of movie -- Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden" is hauled out yet again, Sinatra is here with "Witchcraft," Annie Lennox gets the plum role of singing "I Put a Spell on You" -- but otherwise the soundtrack follows familiar beats. First, the numbers are a little flirtier -- Laura Welsh's "Undiscovered" is insistent and almost bright, Jesse Ware's "Meet Me in the Middle" is a nice bit of slow-burning retro-soul -- but once this album gives way to Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do" on track five, it moves into the area of background romantic music, a vibe that's sometimes pierced by those overly familiar oldies that surely play a bigger role onscreen than they do on album. So, the soundtrack to Fifty Shades of Grey winds up as something conventional: high-thread count seduction with nary a hint of menace, suitable for any romantic evening you choose.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine