'21' players split an ace


Over the final scenes of the film "21," the famous soaring tones of the London Bach Choir from the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" starts playing. But as soon as the final credits begin to roll, the song stutters, skips and suddenly gets an electronica beat.

This, as it turns out, isn't your parents' Stones track.

The "You Can't Always Get What You Want" remix by Soulwax is the lead song on the "21" soundtrack, and the new version is getting the love-it-or-hate-it treatment from critics and consumers. Billboard's Sven Philipp called it "suspenseful, clever and hard-grooving." But then there was the one anonymous commenter on iTunes who wrote: "This is a complete butchering of one of the Stones' most proud-sounding tracks. What the hell? This basically ruined my day."

David Sardy, producer of the soundtrack album and composer of the score, says with a laugh: "We've managed to do something musically controversial in a movie! When was the last time that happened?"

For Sardy and Lia Vollack, president of worldwide music for Columbia Pictures, remixing the classic song for "21" was a measured bet, one they felt fit in perfectly with the college-students-bucking-the-system tone of the film.

"It evolved from this type of music Dave and I see happening a lot in the world right now," Vollack says. "There's dance music that's going on, and yet it's keeping it a little bit rock." The rest of the "21" soundtrack shows the influence of these genres, from "Big Ideas," the new track from LCD Soundsystem, to Rihanna's New Order sample in the lead-in to "Shut Up and Drive."

The original Stones version of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was placed over the end credits at first, but while it's an apt message for the moral of the movie, it didn't quite gel with the rest of the film's electronica-tinged soundtrack. Enter Soulwax, the nom de mix of brothers David and Stephen Dewaele. After some convincing from Vollack and Sardy, ABKCO, which owns the rights to the Rolling Stones songs, even provided the original master tapes of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for Soulwax to work from on their mix -- though the company did provide a guard to travel with the briefcase containing the tapes to Belgium, where Soulwax works.

"It's definitely a dividing-line song," Sardy says. "It you're offended, you're of a certain age -- and if you're not, you're definitely of a certain age. But when you think of how offensive the Stones were when they arrived on the scene, it's full circle. It's rock 'n' roll."

Ann Donahue can be reached at ADonahue@Billboard.com.