Few soundtracks feel as perfectly wedded to their films as the one for Baby Driver. The story of a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who uses his iPod to block out his tinnitus, the film is near wall-to-wall music, boasting some 44 songs that play in Baby’s head. Its soundtrack—a fantastically diverse reflection of director Edgar Wright’s musical taste—offers a crash course on everything from classic R&B to glam rock, and it performs that most noble of deeds: preaching the immortal coolness of Queen.
Those songs have already been spread across two original soundtrack volumes, but in honor of the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray, we’ve collected even more here in this playlist. Some are additional cuts from the artists involved, others hail from similar genres—all of them ideal for putting in your ears on your own getaways.
Of all the cuts on the Baby Driver soundtrack, it’s hard to top the amazing song that kicks off its opening scene, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms.” The New York band combined raunchy blues riffs and noise rock for a sound that stood out in the 1990s alternative music scene, thanks especially to its eardrum-bleeding live sets. Spencer has been churning out albums from 1991 all the way up until 2015’s Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015, but for the one that arguably best encapsulates the JSBX experience, check out 1996’s Now I Got Worry, led by the minor hit “Wail.” It’s a typically ferocious track built on freight-train-chugging guitars, Spencer’s screaming, and one swanky hook.
Baby’s girlfriend, Debora (Lily James), is jealous of Baby because there are so many good songs with his name in it, but it’s surprising that one of the best ever isn’t on the soundtrack—especially considering how much Baby loves singers like Brenda Holloway, Carla Thomas, and Barbara Lewis. “Baby It’s You” is courtesy of The Shirelles—one of the first girl groups to enjoy huge success, and the first to hit No. 1 with the sexually tinged “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Co-written by Burt Bacharach, Mack David, and Barney Williams,“Baby It’s You” is a more sweetly smitten love song, pledging loyalty to a guy who may not be the best bet, but “it doesn’t matter what they say / I’m gonna love you any old way.”
Of those other “Baby” songstresses, “B-A-B-Y” singer Carla Thomas may be the most formidable—even holding her own against Otis Redding on the 1967 duet album King & Queen. “Tramp” kicks off with Thomas calling out Redding for not wearing “continental clothes or Stetson hats,” just the first volley in their hilariously bickering banter, over a hypnotic, trumpet-by-way-of-guitar riff.
Baby immediately puts the lie to Debora’s complaints with his vast musical knowledge, citing both Beck’s “Debra” and T. Rex’s 1968 single “Debora.” The latter was the first hit for Marc Bolan’s glam-rock band, back when it was still the more psychedelic-folk-tinged Tyrannosaurus Rex, but for a more representative cut, check out “20th Century Boy.” Released as a single around T. Rex’s last great album, Tanx, it captures the band’s perfect pop cacophony, with its chunky and irrepressible guitar riff that’s still being swiped by bands today, alongside gospel-infused backing vocals and playful lyrics (“20th century toy / I wanna be your boy”).
Baby hears The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds instrumental “Let’s Go Away For Awhile” when he first spots Debora at the diner, but the same album’s “You Still Believe In Me” functions even better as a theme for the two fated lovebirds. It kicks off with “I know perfectly well I’m not where I should be”—as apt a description as any of Baby’s situation—leading into a sugary ode that’s perfect for their infatuated, refreshingly innocent romance.
Baby loves 1950s R&B as well as punk rock, as seen in his playing The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat” during his second getaway with Jamie Foxx’s crew. The Cramps combine both for a nostalgically rebellious, thoroughly weird sound. “Goo Goo Muck” has the kind of perfectly jangly backbeat Dion And The Belmonts would have easily taken to, ideal for late-night back-road drives headed for nowhere.
Along similar lines, the Violent Femmes’ track “Ugly” from its self-titled debut album pairs a sunny beat to Gordon Gano’s vindictive message, while the guitar lines hover just below cacophony, all held together by sheer spite.
Baby’s exquisite dance/coffee run during the opening credits, all in one continuous take, unfolds to “Harlem Shuffle” by 1960s R&B duo Bob & Earl.
That exuberant track from Bobby Byrd and Earl Nelson is hard to match (George Harrison called it his favorite record of all time), but Byrd’s own “Rockin’ Robin” is a contender. Byrd’s song—recorded as Bobby Day, for contractual reasons—was made famous as one of Michael Jackson’s first solo hits, but his version features a lot more orchestration and a surprisingly kickass flute solo. His commanding lower register makes the song more late-night boisterous, less novelty pop song.
Baby naturally loves R&B’s greatest duo, Sam & Dave, who infused the genre with the gospel of their youth. Their own favorite from a multitude of stellar tracks, “You Don’t Know What You Mean To Me” is a gleeful love ballad, propelled by a happy horn line and a multitude of piano keys as Moore and Prater effortlessly toss vocal lines back and forth.
Out of an impressively curated library, Baby reveals to Jon Hamm’s Buddy that Queen’s “Brighton Rock” is his go-to—a song from the group’s 1974 album, Sheer Heart Attack, when the band had a decidedly harder edge than the stadium-rousing anthems it would become famous for. The bookend to “Brighton Rock” is “Stone Cold Crazy,” another track where Freddie Mercury takes a backseat to Brian May’s searing guitar licks; the get-ready-to-party anthem “Tie Your Mother Down” is a little catchier, but every bit as brutal.
During his time leading ’70s funk-soul group the Commodores, Lionel Richie’s ballads were usually a far cry from the band’s “Brick House” dance -floor-fillers (where Walter “Clyde” Orange would usually sing lead vocal), but those slower songs also landed the Commodores some of their greatest successes. Among the first of these, “Easy” appears in Baby Driver not only in its original version, but also as sung by Baby’s mother (Sky Ferreira). It would pave the way toward even more easy listening from Richie like 1979’s “Still,” a heartrending and effective song about a man preparing to end his relationship—whispering the title line only at the very end, after admitting “I do love you.”
Given that Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” was named “Best Car Song Ever” by USA Today and second-best “Greatest Driving Song” by the BBC’s Top Gear, it’s not surprising the song made its way to the Baby Driver soundtrack. Although the Dutch band has released 25 studio albums across several decades (the latest: 2012’s Tits ’N Ass), American fans mostly know it for two hits released almost a decade apart: 1973’s “Radar Love” and 1982’s “Twilight Zone.” An early MTV hit thanks to its noirish video, the epic “Twilight Zone” kicks off with the literary opening lines, “Somewhere in a lonely hotel room / There’s a guy starting to realize that eternal fate has turned its back on him / It’s 2 a.m.” Like Baby, that guy gets caught in a trap—but also like Baby, at least he has some excellent driving music to accompany him.
Baby Driver’s instrumentals tend to lean toward bombastic efforts from the likes of the Incredible Bongo Band and “Tequila.” Esquivel would fit right in. The Mexican bandleader, whose excesses continually spilled over to the surreal, offers trippy vocal percussion on “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” over some inspired Space Age effects as the piano goes right off the rails.
One of Baby Driver’s instrumentals belongs to Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers (“Egyptian Reggae,” which Baby is listening to at the first gang meeting), but it’s a shame not to get Richman’s vocals in there. You’ve probably already heard the band’s best-known song, but it’s too wonderful not to include here—one of the most joyous in the rock canon, full of driving-with-the-top-down energy. Besides, “Don’t feel so alone with the radio on” could be Baby’s personal mantra.
One of the few artists to contribute an original song is Kid Koala, and it’s easy to see why Edgar Wright picked him. Cuts like “Spanky Panky” pay homage to many of the other R&B artists on this list, with Koala commandeering fierce horns, menacing keys, and turntable scratches to pull a classic musical genre into the 21st century.
Let’s end the same way the movie does: with a Simon & Garfunkel saga playing as the credits roll. “Baby Driver” was the B-side to “The Boxer,” another poetic jaunt by songwriter Paul Simon, who could create rich characters in the space of a few verses. “The Boxer” isn’t, in fact, a pugilist, but a young boy on his own in the big city. But like a boxer, he “carries the reminders / Of ev’ry glove that laid him down,” underlined by the song’s haunting “Lie-la-lie” chorus. Its pathos is an appropriate emotional flip side to the film’s titular song and character, who’s born with “music coming in my ears”: “They call me Baby Driver / And once upon a pair of wheels / I hit the road and I’m gone.”