Throughout the 1980s, there were movies that had a certain kind of feel. A feeling that was symbiotic with its soundtrack that seemed to paint colors in neon flashing lights. The 2011 Indie flick Drive brought that 80s vibe back with vengeance. Starring a cold and quiet Ryan Gosling, Drive creates a world engulfed by crooks, and second wave music. On the deserted streets of downtown Los Angeles, a mysterious stuntman and getaway driver flourish through the night. Drive: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack captures the setting and the protagonist’s inner struggles perfectly.
This soundtrack, which was scored by Cliff Martinez was also performed by various artists. The tracks that stand out on this indie juggernaut are “Night Call” by Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx, “Under Your Spell” by Desire, and “A Real Hero” by College featuring Electric Youth. The soundtrack begins with an initial sound of a coin going into a slot machine, could be a jukebox, or a record player. Immediately, the music beats take off on a crusade. Warped vocals pinch in as a female voice repeats, “there’s something inside you / it’s hard to explain.”
“Night Call” is the opening song to the film’s introduction, and serves as an anthem for the driver. There seems to be a lot going on inside this character, who chooses to communicate through body language. Desire’s “Under Your Spell” plays around the time in the movie when the driver starts a friendship with his neighbor, Irene (played by Carey Mulligan). Not too long after they become friends, Irene starts falling for Gosling’s character. “A Real Hero” illustrates the driver’s need to do “good” within the corrupt atmosphere that he’s involved in. These three electronic masterpieces remind me of Bryan Adams and the 1984 Footloose soundtrack. Martinez’s scores convey a dark mood that sets up the scenes, and every one is like a page from a comic book. They tell a story while expressing the emotion behind the dull-eyed hero.
An odd addition to the soundtrack is “Oh My Love” by Riz Ortolani featuring Katyna Ranieri. Ortolani deters from the electronic sounding tracks to sing an easy listening tune, followed by crying violins. “Oh My Love” ironically plays while the driver eliminates a mob member.
This music is a fluid interpretation of a re-mastered 80s classic. It is not from the 80s, but easily could have been. The depth that is installed in each song is equivalent to the depth of this film. Maybe the soundtrack is trying to tell us something? Is it possible that our leather-jacketed hero is actually a guardian angel, sworn to protect the innocent? Does the symbol of the scorpion mean anything? Whatever the cryptic message may be, the secret lies within the soundtrack.