Baby Driver Music Featurette

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.

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