Why is the Drive Soundtrack so Iconic?

With the release of Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest The Neon Demon, we can’t guarantee that everyone will enjoy the film. But one thing we can be sure of is the music will be awesome. Lately this has been a convention for Refn’s films, whether it’s in the film’s soundtrack or the film’s score, which is usually created by Cliff Martinez. S

o for the release of The Neon Demon, I’m looking back at one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, Drive. While the film itself is amazing, the soundtrack holds a special place in most people’s heart, for some it’s the reason the film is so great. But why is that? Why is the Drive soundtrack so iconic? Why does it stand out from so many other great soundtracks? Why is it considered one of the greatest soundtracks of all time? Well it’s time to grab your scorpion printed jacket, pop some shades on, crank up the electro pop and journey into the soundtrack for Drive.

Also… Spoilers!

The Chromatics – Tick of the Clock

Used in the film’s opening car chase, The Chromatics’ Tick of the Clock, works in perfect harmony with the action taking place in the scene. Working alongside the basketball commentary, the song helps to build the tension and suspense of the scene as the Driver tries to evade the police and even more so when the game reaches it’s climax and the Driver knows he’s seconds away from escaping. Even the title of the song is a nice touch to the scene as the Driver always does his job to a time limit.


Kavinsky – Nightcall

While Kavinsky’s Nightcall wasn’t made for the film, the lyrics do make it feel it was. The song is used in the opening credits of Drive and it acts as a precursor for the relationship between the Driver and Irene. The male and female voices are like the inner monologues for both the Driver and Irene respectively. The chorus in particular, relates to Irene’s feelings towards the Driver, as she’s never truly sure how to feel about this man that has entered her life.


Desire – Under Your Spell

While Nightcall looks at mainly at Irene’s feelings to the Driver, Desire’s Under The Spell truly reflects the Driver’s feelings but also plays at the moment when the Driver and Irene are more in sync with each other than ever. The song is played at Standard’s coming home party, while the Driver is home, next door, alone. But even though Irene is at the party, she is just as alone as the Driver, despite being surrounded by people. The song plays perfectly as these two lost souls become better connected to one another, even when they are apart.


Riz Ortolani – Oh My Love

After a bank robbery gone wrong, after killing to survive and after having his only friend in the world killed, the Driver can no longer sit and watch idly by, he must take action. While most normal films would have a big action piece of music to accompany this moment, Drive is not like most normal films. As the Driver gets ready to exact revenge, Italian composer Riz Ortolani’s Oh My Love begins playing. This piece of classical music completely captures the Driver’s state of mind while planning his revenge on Nino. Instead of bursting in to certain death, he waits and carefully plans how to take out Nino in the simplest and most effective way possible. This is a moment where we dig deep into the psyche of the Driver and truly see that isn’t the hero the film as presented him as.

College – A Real Hero

College’s A Real Hero plays at two points in the film and at both points, the song as two different meanings. It’s first played when the Driver takes Irene and Benicio for a drive and a day out. The lyric “a real human being” reflects the Driver’s inner thoughts as for once he isn’t a getaway driver, but a normal person, doing normal things with other normal people. In that moment, he is a real human being. But of course the events of the film change who the Driver is. When the song is played again at the end of the film, the Driver is stabbed and presumed to be dead, but at this point he isn’t a human being, he’s a hero, and heroes don’t die. He has rid his world of evil and has protected Irene and Benicio and drives off into the sunset like any real hero would.

The soundtrack to Drive is a masterpiece as it plays in perfect harmony with the action of the film, the underlining tones hidden in the film and accompanies Cliff Martinez’ equally incredible score. The soundtrack holds a lot more than just being a few great songs; they all have deeper meanings, meanings that you may not have realised the first time round. But this could have been all very different as the idea was to originally have hip hop music used for the film, which I think we can all agree wouldn’t have made the film what it is today and I definitely wouldn’t have written this article.


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