Instead, music supervisor Randall Poster went for a more “blues, early rock-and-roll motif” for glossy drama, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a corrupt stockbroker living the high life in New York City until his freewheeling, criminal ways land him in the clink.
Among the other mid-20th century tracks running through the film are Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” Eartha Kitt’s “C’est Si Bon,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning,” Bo Diddley’s “Pretty Thing” and “Road Runner,” and the Lemonsheads’ rendition of Paul Simon’s “Mrs. Robinson.” One of the most on-point moments of music-drama synergy is the use of Jimmy Castor’s 1966 hit “Hey Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You” in tandem with a particularly impassioned speech from Belfort, creating what Poster calls an “incredible Scorcese moment.”
So how did Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” wind up as the song that introduced “Wolf of Wall Street” to the world? Poster explains:
“I think that the people that made the trailer, they were making it before we had a [completed] movie,” he says. “You try to find something that is impactful for the trailer, and I think [Kanye] felt very ’now.’ I think that in spite of the movie’s period setting, some of the substance of it is contemporary. ”
“Wolf” marks Poster’s third big-screen collaboration with Scorsese after “The Aviator” and “Hugo.” He also earned a Grammy for his work with the director on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Poster, however, is quick to offer credit where it’s due.
“[Scorsese] really does select all the songs, so it really is born out of him,” he says of “Wolf.” “[Composer] Robbie Robertson and I gather material and present it to him, and do the best we can to complete his vision.” In fact, Poster credits Scorsese’s use of music in 1973’s “Mean Streets” with inspiring him to get into the business.
Among his non-Scorsese credits are “Spring Breakers,” “Skyfall,” “Carrie” and the upcoming “Divergent,” on which he says Ellie Goulding will be a “musical centerpiece.” (Perhaps it’s his James Bond connection that explains the fact that Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings offer a contemporary cover of “Goldfinger” on the “Wolf” soundtrack.)
Distributed by Virgin Records, the delightfully retro The Wolf of Wall Street — Music From the Motion Picture is available now via digital retailers with a physical release set for January 7.