New Music Wednesday: Drive Soundtrack

Howdy, kids! On this week’s New Music segment, I’ll be talking about the soundtrack for the movie Drive. If you haven’t seen it, do a double feature of Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines because they have similar feels but completely different themes, and it’s interesting to see Ryan Gosling doing two very different roles but with a similar feel to the films. Here’s the trailer for Drive so you can get a feel for the film!

Now, the original scores for this film are done by Cliff Martinez, who you may know from other films that he’s done like, Contagion, or The Lincoln Lawyer. Martinez does a great job in this film making the music take you to another level. The music in this film is very otherworldly, and speaks to the whole ‘dream-like’ atmosphere of the film. I feel as though it does a good job of being vague; very few scenes in the film are actually strong, and the music reflects that. Most of the pieces Martinez does are very calm. One in particular is a little bit harsher, and its called Kick Your Teeth. It’s interesting, because despite the fact that the piece has a very percussion heavy section, it still remains, to me at least, a very low-key piece, which keeps the general feel in play. If you watch the film, you’ll notice that there are many sections in slow motion, as well as key scenes with a very… faded (which perhaps isn’t the word but hopefully gets my point across) texture to them, which I really appreciate.

So,  Martinez didn’t do all the music. Some of it was done by musicians like Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx (of CSS fame), Desire, and the Chromatics. The first hints of music we hear are from the Chromatics, their song Tick of the Clock, which works perfectly with the scene as it’s all about the Driver’s policy about being a getaway driver. During the opening credits, a song called Nightcall by Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx plays, and if you’ve seen the opening credits, you know that the song reflects the film in an interesting way; the electronic feel of the song suits the film well. The font used in the opening credits is hilarious, but suits the story; one friend of mine actually compared the whole opening credit scene to Miami Vice, which I thought was hilarious and accurate.

As I rewatch the film (so as to give the most accurate description of the music and the way it adds to the film), I notice something you may find interesting and may agree with. Whenever music is playing in the film around The Driver, it almost seems to signify that he is retreating into his dream world.
Notice that all the scenes where he is driving, music is playing to some extent (more on that in a minute);
And whenever he is talking to Irene or someone else, there is not music.
Let me explain a little more.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Now, the opening scene, we hear hints of music, but mostly we get real sounds. I think the real sounds signify the fact that the real world has pulled him in, at this moment, and he is forced to pay attention to it; but the act of driving takes him out of his body nonetheless, and that’s why there is still music.
When he’s driving with Irene and Benicio, there is music playing; also, when he’s in the elevator with Irene before he attacks the man with the gun, music is playing. But when he’s in Irene’s apartment talking to her about her husband, there is no music playing. Now, this could be so that the viewer can hear them speaking, or something like that. But, I think, when Irene isn’t speaking, the Driver can almost pretend that she’s his, and that he has the kind of life being with her would offer. 
During the scene where Rose tells the Driver about how Nino had Shannon’s pelvis broken, there is no music playing; its as if the Driver is drawn into the real world not only because someone is having a direct conversation with him, but because he genuinely cares about Shannon and knows he can’t hide from this.
The whole act of driving to the Driver represents him running away from his issues; trying to dodge responsibility, which is illustrated in the first scene perfectly. The Driver is committing an illegal act by protecting criminals. He is driving away from consequences. We don’t know where exactly the driver came from, but did he just appear on Shannon’s doorstep because he was dodging responsibilities from wherever it is he was originally? Psychoanalyzing the Driver would be a very interesting and probably enlightening experience, but unfortunately not something I could do in this article. This is already very off-topic!

I can’t get enough of this film, or of the music in it. I think that Martinez does a great job composing, and whoever picked the other songs that filled the silence of the film (whether it be Martinez or someone else, I couldn’t really tell if he was the only one in charge of this sort of thing. I suppose the director, producers, and writers had some say, as well) did a wonderful job. The songs flow perfectly and allow the viewer to be transported into the film in a seamless way.

Watch movies! They’re awesome! And watch this one in particular because it’s truly fantastic!

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