The Baby Driver soundtrack is everything a film score could and should be.
Baby Driver is out in cinemas now and has received critical and audience acclaim because of its unique and beautiful style, lush action and car chases, and most of all the giant 30+ song Baby Driver soundtrack.
To hear Baby Driver’s amazing soundtrack, click here.
To see the review of this revolutionary film, click here.
The tag line of Baby Driver is ‘All you need is one killer track’, and baby, that music couldn’t ring truer. Baby Driver is a response to the dull and reputably ‘un-killer’ tracks that are plaguing modern day blockbuster films.
The problem with today’s action blockbuster
Blockbuster music has just become a swell of un-inspired background music that simply copies from one another. If you don’t believe me, just listen to this Thor score. Then tell me it’s not a direct rip-off of this equally uncompelling Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen score. Or listen to this compilation on youtube that highlights the crossover of three giant blockbuster phenomenons, and I dare you to say that they don’t have the same tune.
However in the music industry, the music takes centre stage. It is the sole creator of emotion, anticipation and excitement. Songs from the music industry need to be innovative, unique and carry a certain personality and emotion with it, unlike any other song.
Utilising an audience’s love for music in a film
So, why not use the audiences pre-acquired love for music to fuel energy within a film? Think of that Galactic space opera set to a 70’s rock music soundtrack. Guardians of the Galaxy.
However, simply stuffing a whole lot of great songs into a movie isn’t enough *cough Suicide Squad cough*. No, the music needs to be a part of the film, part of the style and sometimes even a part of the actual world and plot.
From the very beginning of Guardians of Galaxy, this is made clear with Star Lord’s iconic dancing to ‘Come and Get your Love’. Instantly this showcases the pop culture ironic and giddily exaggerated film style. The soundtrack adds a light hearted and upbeat familiarity in a mysterious and strange universe.
When it comes to perfectly implementing radio music into the actual film scene, Edgar Wright’s no amateur either. Shaun of the Dead comes packed full of musical numbers that establish the quirky tone of the film that otherwise would have been a meek zombie horror.
When Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now’ comes on on a jukebox at one of the most climactic and desperate points in the film, the scene is instantly filled with energy and excitement. The spiritless and hopelessness of their situation is suddenly juxtaposed with the rising upbeat nature of one of Queen’s absolute classic songs.
However Edgar Wright takes integrating style and soundtrack to a whole new level in his best and most well-received film, Baby Driver.
In Baby Driver, music meets plot
It would be easy to take the title of Baby Driver, see its trailers and even read the synopsis and think this is a film about driving, crime and love. And don’t get me wrong, it has the best car chases I have ever seen, thrilling gritty yet stylised action sequences and a quirky yet loveable love story as well.
But at its soul, this is a film about music. And the film emphasises this in an exaggerated way.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) had an accident as a kid, giving him tinnitus. In order to drown it out he listens to 20th century rock music. In this way, the film organically weaves the large Baby Driver soundtrack into the world and characters in the film.
Baby Driver begins with an opening scene with the protagonist singing and grooving along to Bellbottoms. At the same time a violent armed robbery is taking place knowingly just a hundred metres away from him. Similar to Guardians of the Galaxy, this juxtaposition sets up a self-aware, stylish and music heavy film.
However unlike Guardians of the Galaxy the songs don’t get benched when the dialogue and action take centre stage, they continue ever louder and ever relentlessly from scene to scene. And that’s how the audience is introduced to the real main character in the film: music.
Putting action to music instead of music to action
You’re walking down the street, ear phones in, the sun is shining, you have no worries in the world and suddenly, your favourite song comes on.
Before you know it, your legs start moving to the beat, your lips start moving to the lyrics of the song, a faint hum of the melody echoes up your throat. Suddenly the whole world seems to move to the music in your head. This escapist euphoria is exactly what Baby Driver invokes.
Specifically there is a scene where Baby is walking down to a coffee shop and the whole world seems to move to the rhythm of ‘Harlem Shuffle’. However, throughout the whole film every gun shot, car crash, drop of money is in time with the beats of the music. Each major point in the melody of a song, a guitar bend, a saxophone solo is accompanied by a tire squeal or a high stakes chase.
By having the action follow the rhythm in every scene, we feel every part of the music’s complex personality.
Each scene has a different song accompanying it, allowing each part of the film to be distinguishable and unique. It allows the audience to connect a car chase with the gritty energy of punk rock ‘Neat Neat Neat’ or an adorable dialogue sequence between two love birds with the nostalgic yet enchanting ‘B-a-b-y’.
However, through strategically placed moments where Baby is unable to listen to his music (his ipod broken, a car radio damaged) we are introduced to the haunting high pitched hum of his tinnitus.
The ever present nature of music projects the Baby character onto the audience. Thus the absence of music makes the audience feel uneasy.
This is where Edgar Wright introduces the dark and heavy parts of the film. Like Baby, the film drowns out the harsh and violent reality with music, and it’s only when the music stops that he has to comes to terms with the grim reality.
Baby Driver shows the world the true power of music
Yes, this film may be a bit of an exaggeration of integrating more music into film. However the main point to take away is how music CAN be used in film.
The diverse soundtrack re-creates the wondrous personality to curate the unique style of the film. It adds the energy of the music into each scene to create emotional love moments to adrenaline filled action sequences. It even serves as a direct metaphor to how music is used to drown out the issues of the world.
Obviously this is only one of the ways to incorporate new and original music into a film, and talented composers are still making compelling and exciting scores for some blockbuster films (I’ve been listening to the Dunkirk soundtrack on repeat and I’m not even ashamed of it).
In fact a lot of blockbusters are enjoyable, and more to the point are extremely profitable, without memorable soundtracks and scores. Yet to me, I find it nearly impossible to feel excitement or emotion without a compelling musical attachment to the scene.
I know I sound like a film music nut. Most of you probably don’t think this much about the music in a typical holiday blockbuster.
But because of memorable soundtracks I can look back at Guardians of the Galaxy as that cheesy, action packed and energetic film set to an appropriately exaggerated 70’s soundtrack, Shrek as that all-star (a pun, but true) family film with the spunk and humour of its Smash Mouth songs, and Baby Driver as that stylish and hyper realistic film that ends up saying a lot about music and its place in the world.