Radio 1 rescores Drive – a worthwhile project?

There are few films nowadays that we can call “classics”. We often have to look back to at least the 90’s, 80’s, or even further to find a film that will be remembered for years and years to come. On October 30th, BBC 3 screened an alternative version of Drive with a new soundtrack curated by Radio 1, featuring artists such as The 1975, SBTKRT, Foals, Bastille and Bring Me the Horizon, amongst others.

What’s so special about Drive is that not only does it have an incredible storyline, stunning visuals and hands down one of the best characters of this generation, but every song of its original score manages to perfectly embody what the film represents without overpowering or ruining any part of it.

Taking on the task of re-scoring this film took a lot of courage, and the expectations were extremely high. Zane Lowe from Radio 1 decided to take on this challenge, and claims that he and his chosen artists did not intend to improve the original soundtrack, but simply wanted to give a different outlook on the already fantastic film. So… what do we think?

It’s a mixed bag of musical experiments. Some artists managed to capture the essence of the film, letting it speak for itself whilst further perpetuating the emotions felt by the characters. However, some of the others simply got carried away. They seem to have based themselves on the 80’s synth-pop atmosphere, and written love songs that make Drive seem painfully superficial, cheesy and awkward at times – which it definitely is not. In this case, Drive is all about complexity: There are many intricate layers of intensity to the film, and what seems calm, distant and sometimes monotonous is in reality very deep and emotionally charged.

The song that featured on the opening credits sadly does not capture this complexity. CHVRCHES contributed a good song to Drive, just not a good song for Drive. The lyrics distract the viewer from what is going on in the scene and the regular beat makes it all seem like a stressful video game, vacant of any kind of emotional depth.

The main problem that arose from the new songs was that they attempted to epitomize Drive through storytelling lyrics and excessively present electronic percussions and beats. Bastille’s contribution, “The Driver” did represent the driver’s character fairly well and was an interesting addition. However, the problem was that when added to the chosen scene, it seemed out of place, overshadowing the film and leaving no room for the scene to speak for itself.

Another example of this problem came with the track by BMTH. Their song when played over the car chase changes the entire meaning of the sequence. We are no longer watching Drive, but a painfully superficial Hollywood blockbuster, think Transformers or Need for Speed, to name but a few.The tracks that were effective were the ones that didn’t seem to be trying too hard. Think slow, regular beats, layered tracks with a compilation of different textures and sounds, while still remaining minimalistic and intense. “Medicine” by tThe 1975 proved to be a beautifully accurate song for the only brief moment of light and happiness in the film, by providing a powerful and simple melodic line and a deeply melancholic rhythm.

The tracks that were effective were the ones that didn’t seem to be trying too hard. Think slow, regular beats, layered tracks with a compilation of different textures and sounds, while still remaining minimalistic and intense. “Medicine” by the 1975 proved to be a beautifully accurate song for the only brief moment of light and happiness in the film, by providing a powerful and simple melodic line and a deeply melancholic rhythm.

The best tracks were the ones that reflected the film’s paradoxical main character: Discreet yet powerful, minimalistic and complex, aggressive and melancholic. The power of Drive arises from its many emotional nuances, which is what made its original soundtrack so brilliant.

The score brings us closer to the main character, without him needing to do or say anything at all. Attempting to re-score this film has proven to be a very interesting project, showcasing some brilliant upcoming artists and some new material from our favorite chart artists.But let’s be honest… If it’s not broken, why fix it?

★★★★★

for Nicolas Winding Refn and Cliff Martinez.

★★☆☆☆

for Zane Lowe.

Originally published on Epigram

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