The Greatest Music Moments In Edgar Wright's Filmography

In 2005, I watched a new horror comedy titled Shaun of the Dead. I had not heard of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, or anyone involved with this quirky little piece of entertainment. And something struck me big time about this movie: the incredible editing and music choices. And since Shaun's release, Wright has proven that he is a master at mixing cinema with the energy of a music video, all the while not losing his grip on the story.

In Wright's latest movie, Baby Driver, music plays a key role within both the story and structure of the movie. And if you know Wright's filmography, you know that he has been honing his music video talents for years to create a film like this. So in celebration of Baby Driver's release, let's take a look at the greatest music-driven sequences in Wright's movies.

Shaun of the Dead - "Don't Stop Me Now"

At this point in Shaun of the Dead, the tensions and stakes are at an all-time high. The surviving cast is stuck inside a pub, and soon enough, a jukebox starts playing one of Queen's best tunes, "Don't Stop Me Now." Trying to not draw attention to themselves, they attempt to stop the music, but if you know the scene, the iconic song is what makes it all come together. In fact, this is one of many examples where Wright edits in a way that makes the action improve the diegetic sound, as this is one masterfully crafted orchestra of blood, guts, and glory.

With the perfectly timed whacking of the cast's various weapons, to the seemingly synchronized turning on and off of the lights outside the pub, Edgar showcases his understanding of rhythm and makes every second count in making this moment work just right..

Hot Fuzz - Romeo and Juliet

Though a lot of people know Hot Fuzz for its high-energy action scenes, I like to dwell on the smaller moments. This one will always remain a favorite, not just for the comedic aspects (which are obviously fantastic), but for the truly bizarre song choice that earns it a spot on this list.

From the start, our heroes Nick and Danny (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are in a strange situation. Sitting amongst the local theatre crowd, they're watching a bizarre performance of Romeo and Juliet. Clearly, this isn't a Broadway style production by any means, and looking at Nick and Danny's faces, they aren't too impressed with this rendition of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. The scene gets all the weirder when the finale is followed up by a musical performance of The Cardigan's "Lovefool", and the cast's performance sells the whole ridiculous nature of the show.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Opening Credits

Setting the pace for a movie with just a song and clever graphics can be hard. But right from the start, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World gets you there. This is one of those opening sequences that perfectly compliments and explains everything about what you're going to witness. Fueled by the title character's band, Sex Bob-omb, Edgar Wright shoots us into an astro orbit of awesome editing and raw emotion.

As someone that casually read the graphic novel on which the movie was based, seeing the attention to detail that Wright put into just the intro felt like a well meaning doctor coming in and telling me, "Everything is going to be fine." And sure enough, that gut feeling was absolutely correct, as Scott Pilgrim still remains one of the best comic to screen adaptations of all time. Part of that reason is Wright's faithful devotion to getting the tone of Scott's world in both editing and musical form. The unfiltered nature of the soundtrack creates a perfect blend of youthful angst and fun. And when you add the incredible title cards with equally colorful motion graphic-filled backgrounds, you know that Wright was the right guy for the job.

But the best part of the sequence is the reaction Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) gives. Filled with genuine emotion, you never doubt that this initially innocent, wide-eyed character is anything but enchanted by the tunes Scott and his friends play for her. And much like the audience watching it, we connect with her by getting sucked into the charms of the journey (musically and cinematically) Edgar Wright is about to take us on.

Shaun of the Dead – "White Lines"

One of the best aspects of Shaun of the Dead is its clever way of building mystery, and this silly moment between Shaun and Ed is a great example of that. And though it might not be as bombastic as the above-mentioned Queen sequence, it is one of the cleverest moments in the film.

Though it might seem like such an innocent, drunken stroll through a small British town, Shaun and Ed's bad cover of Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines" is just a diversion from the real terror going on around them. And once you really start to pay attention to those shady, blurred extra's behind our two leads, this tiny little bit of well paced comedy (and awfully sung melody) becomes quite a sight to see.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Scott Fights the Katayanagi Twins

Though there are many moments within Scott Pilgrim I could go on and on about, the one that truly defines musical brilliance occurs in this battle. Not only is it a tour de force for all that are involved behind and in front of the camera, but it shows that Wright can color outside of the lines, and really let music and sound define every single bit of his filmmaking.

As impeccably choreographed as a Bob Fosse dance number, every movement of both the frame and the characters is literally controlled by the sounds surrounding them. And much like the opening sequence, the graphics and enormous CGI, along with the Brian Del Palma/Phantom of the Paradise inspired editing choices, only further drive the energy and intensity of the scene. Of course, it only gets better once the two groups create "visualizations" of their music battle, fighting game style, to be the dominate sound.

The World's End - "I Hate This Town"

The World's End is my favorite Edgar Wright film (or at least until I see Baby Driver.) Featuring a maturity in both the storytelling and musical choices, it stands as an example of growth within Wright's Cornetto Trilogy. And though that are many scenes that pump up my feely feels towards the movie as a whole, there's one that speaks large levels to my personal tastes, especially since I connect with the character of Andy Knightley.

Nick Frost's characters in Wright's work have always been a bit too over-the-top for my taste, but Andy is a standout. With a long, dramatic history between him and Simon Pegg's Gary King, I totally understand Andy's struggles. I've been that reserved and well-meaning friend that's gotten the short end of the stick, and when I finally get pushed over the edge, stuff like this pub scene tend to take shape.

So when the music pumps in, and Andy goes full Hulk on everyone in sight, you feel it. With the electronic beats, sharp cuts, and Nick Frost's believable performance, the scene will always be a standout, both because it feels personal and because it's just cool.

Spaced - The Gun Fight

Well I know this is kind-of cheating, but when you talk about Edgar Wright, you have to mention Spaced. For many film fans, the TV series where he cut his teeth might not be the life-changing juggernaut that some of the films on this list are, but it symbolizes the beginning of what made Edgar Wright the talent he is today. And if any scene is going to stand as the best example of Spaced, this is it.

In the scene, Tim and Daisy (Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes) run into a violent group of college boys in a back alley. Trying to enjoy a pleasant night on the town (that seems to be going crazier and crazier) the duo have no choice but to battle it out with the young lads in the only way they know how – a pretend gun fight. And what follows (set to the Bluetones' "Blood Bubble) is considered to be some of Wright's best work (so much so that he even put it on his Vimeo reel!).

Grindhouse - "Don't" Trailer

So this isn't a full movie, nor does it have exactly full on music throughout, but it would pain me not to at least mention Wright's contribution to Grindhouse. In a film full of excellent fake trailers, this one still stands as one of the best for a multitude of reasons.

From the word go, Edgar Wright proves that he knows his '70s cinema sound staples, like the creepy piano score, the sudden use of alarming and out-of-synch strings, and the increasingly disturbing narration becoming truly monstrous by the end.

After the scene where Nick Frost (known as "The Baby Eater" in the cast) hangs from the ceiling, the non-diegetic soundtrack shifts to one that is a bit more electronic. As the editing pacing quickens with Wright's usual fast cuts, Will Arnett's narration also increases in speed, to the point where the two combined into a dubstep-esque tune. The result is an unusual and wholly unique audio experience.

The World's End - "Alabama Song" Sequence

In The World's End, there is a moment where the characters slowly realize the bigger picture of what is really happening in their town. And though they had initially thought that this night was going to be just a reunion, a bucket list achievement sort of situation, it might need to become a "saving their world/town" sort of deal. And that shift is perfectly realized in this scene via a great song choice.

To the tune of The Door's "Alabama Song," Simon Pegg and the gang begin their walk to the next stop on their long bar crawl. The music sets a jolly but uncomfortable tone, as the boys pass by various villagers, all of whom they suspect might not be who they seem to be. As the melody continues, even the burps of the boys act as a chorus that not only aids the story, but adds an extra kick to the song choice. Charming, yet creepy, this moment and song sets the scene for the rest of World's End's brilliance.

Shaun of the Dead - First Zombie Take Down

When someone kills a zombie in a movie, typically weapons such as guns, knives, and blunt objects are involved. But in the world of Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, the selection of items that can defend someone from such a creature is more varied – including your own personal record collection. And though I would never condone the use of "musical violence," in the case of protecting yourself against flesh eating monsters, this sounds like a good option.

After learning that the only way to defeat the zombies is through the removal of the head or destroying the brain, Shaun and Ed get the great idea to take whatever weapons they can find to get rid of their new friends. Unfortunately, not too many of them work – with the exception of Shaun's vinyl records. This starts a series of hilarious exchanges about which of the collection is worth keeping, and what of his selection is questionable in taste. Though not a typical musical sequence with diegetic or non-diegetic sound, it's still a scene built entirely around the subject of music. And it may be cheating, but it's a classic moment I cannot ignore.