I’ve been listening to the soundtrack of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver for the past few days. It’s the kind of soundtrack that makes you want to dance or go on a long road trip, with songs you’d expect to find in a jukebox. It is both energetic and comforting, fuelling scenes with upbeat tempos while reminding the audience of songs they may have forgotten. The movie features music from a variety of different genres, ranging from tunes like “Radar Love” by Golden Earring to jazz hits like “Tequila.”
The nostalgic soundtrack of Baby Driver serves as more than just background noise; it is an integral part of the movie, both driving scenes forward and shaping the plot. As the main character, Baby (Ansel Elgort), becomes increasingly affiliated with a life of crime he constantly listens to music to help him cope with a hearing disability. The songs Baby listens to on his iPod are the same songs that fuel the entire movie; whether he’s dancing around in his kitchen or engaging in fast-paced car chases, the audience gets to hear how the character perceives each scene.
Since the movie has come out, receiving high ratings and doing well in the box office, the popularity of the songs it features has skyrocketed. With playlists on Spotify and Youtube, people who enjoyed the movie are also enjoying it’s music independently. Baby Driver is giving these tracks the opportunity to resurface, finding their way to both audiences who have heard them in the past and younger listeners who are just discovering them.
This isn’t the first time that Edgar Wright has used music to shape one of his movies. Shaun of the Dead is also well known for featuring classic rock in integral scenes, and the plot of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World revolves around the music played by the characters. In an interview with the Mike on Much Podcast, Edgar Wright explains that the songs in Baby Driver dictated how each scene was written: “The songs are sort of featured in the movie, as in [Baby] is actually listening to them … I wouldn’t start writing a scene until I had the right song.”
I wouldn’t start writing a scene until I had the right song.
In the past few years, other movies have also pulled classic songs back to the forefront of pop-culture. This namely includes films like The Martian and Guardians of the Galaxy, which combine modern cinematography with radio hits from the past. These movies have all contributed to the revival of their classic tunes; on its own, the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy has received over 11 million views on Youtube. In the case of Baby Driver, Wright deliberately draws attention towards the soundtrack, making jukebox-classics a central part of the film. As Baby dances along to the songs on his iPod, the audience has the opportunity to fall in love with them all over again.