'Baby Driver' and beyond: 7 soundtracks that spook, spark and shine
It's no secret that the 2017 crime film Baby Driver, directed by Edgar Wright, has steered its way into the zeitgeist, largely thanks to its killer soundtrack. And like a legacy of film music before it, Baby Driver's music is changing the soundtrack game.
Whether it's the '80s hip-hop of Do The Right Thing or the disco-driving tunes of Saturday Night Fever, music can often provide the boost to push the film into a class of its own. Covering more than 60 years of film music, check out this list of seven soundtracks that influenced generations of pop culture.
Baby Driver, 2017
A heist-gone-wrong film, Wright's Baby Driver taps heavy hitters from the '70s with tracks from Queen, Beck, Barry White, and the Beach Boys, among many others — a total of 35 songs made it into the film. "You could describe Baby Driver as a car-chase movie set to rock and roll," writes Variety. "Or, conversely, you could think of it as a playlist that happens to have a crime film attached." And the film's title? It's Simon & Garfunkel's "Baby Driver" from their Album Of The Year GRAMMY-winning Bridge Over Troubled Water — not to be confused with the KISS song of the same name.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000
This Coen Brothers classic follows three convicts who escape from a chain gang and chase buried treasure through 1930s Mississippi. Hilarity ensues, but what makes this film unique was its soundtrack based on music from the deep south, including folk, country and bluegrass. Produced by GRAMMY winner T Bone Burnett, O Brother, Where Art Thou earned an Album Of The Year GRAMMY for its participating musicians, including Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and the Fairfield Four.
Pulp Fiction, 1994
Kool & The Gang's "Jungle Boogie," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" read like a who's who of rock royalty on Pulp Fiction's soundtrack. "The mixture of surf, soul and s***-talking that Quentin Tarantino assembled for Pulp Fiction's soundtrack played out like one of the world's coolest mixtapes, which made it an instant classic," writes Rolling Stone. While the soundtrack made commercial waves when it peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard 200, its lasting legacy comes from the retro surf-rock vibes of the film's opener, Dick Dale's 1962 breakout single "Mirislou," which still sounds fresh decades later.
Do The Right Thing, 1989
Hip-hop was still primarily an underground genre in the late '80s, but Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing changed all that when Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" blasted first during the film's opening credit roll, and then later straight from Radio Raheem's boombox during the film's climax. "Peppered with 'new jack' era slabs of wax from the likes of Public Enemy (the iconic "Fight The Power"), summer party staples from E.U. ("Party Hearty") and Teddy Riley ("My Fantasy"), and deep slow jams from Perri and Al Jarreau, it's the perfect background for a hot night in the city," writes AllMusic.com.
Saturday Night Fever, 1977
From subcultures to the main stage, there was no better catalyst for disco than Saturday Night Fever. The primarily Bee Gees-penned album caught fire, earned four No. 1 singles and five GRAMMYs, including Album Of The Year for 1978. But what Robert Stigwood, film producer and head of the Bee Gees' label RSO Records, effectively did was bring the genre to a white-hot peak. "Disco made an unexpected leap in the culture, from popular musical style to genuine phenomenon," writes The Dissolve.
Shaft, in a word? Blaxploitation. Composer Isaac Hayes' classic soul double album may contain primarily instrumentals, but that doesn't lessen the soundtrack's impact. The memorable "Theme From Shaft" — one of only three tracks with vocals on the LP — not only won composer Isaac Hayes a GRAMMY, it also earned him an Oscar and became the best-selling record for Stax in its history. Shaft paved the way for other greats in the Blaxploitation genre, such as Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly, and, as A.V. Club says, "fomented a soundtrack revolution."
If you aren't creeped out by Psycho's iconic murderous shower screen, complete with high-pitched scratching violins courtesy of composer Bernard Herrmann, you're stronger than we are. No stranger to Alfred Hitchcock films, including Vertigo and North By Northwest, Herrmann turned up the dial to 100 for Psycho with just spooky stringed instruments. The film's music has become synonymous with terror, and even Hitchcock had to admit, "33 percent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."
Which film soundtrack do you think made the biggest impact? Vote below!