Let’s Revisit The Noel Fielding Music Video That Inspired ‘Baby Driver’
Edgar Wright said the music label questioned his casting of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt because they were too unknown.
Edgar Wright’s new film Baby Driver (no spoilers!) will have you hooked from the first scene.
In it, a getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) pops in his iPod headphones to listen to ‘Bellbottoms’ by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion while Jon Hamm and a few other crims run into a local banks, guns blazing. Throughout it all, we stick with the driver as he lip syncs and dances his way through the perfectly choreographed heist behind the steering wheel.
It’s a fitting start to a film that’s a) entirely centred around music, b) masterfully edited, and c) cool as hell. Baby spends the whole film plugged into his iPod Classic and each chase and action sequence is timed to and contrasted with its accompanying diegetic soundtrack. But, as some already know and many more have since picked up, this opening tone-setting scene is lifted straight from Edgar Wright’s back catalogue.
Have a little watch of Mint Royale’s 2003 video for ‘Blue Song’ and see how it compares:
The above clip was directed by Wright a couple of years after cult series Spaced and one year before Shaun of the Dead — hence the Nick Frost cameo! It was, he intended, “a dry run” for a movie he had in his mind about a music-obsessed getaway driver. He’d been planning the film in small ways since listening to Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion in an editing suite in the mid-’90s.
“I started to imagine this car chase that was set to that song,” Wright told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t have the character yet, but the structure of the car chase and the bank robbery at the start of the movie is extremely similar to what I came up with 22 years ago.”
When the music video was released, Wright’s idea got a whole lot firmer. When it was shown at a US film festival, J.J. Abrams was reportedly very impressed. As Wright recalls, “as we were showing it to the audience, J.J. leaned over to me and whispered, ‘You know, I think this would make a great movie.’ And I whispered back, ‘I am way ahead of you! I started writing it already!'”
Funnily enough, it wasn’t always such a surefire success. Writing on his blog in 2009, Wright reflected that the video faced criticism from the band’s management at the time. “I distinctly remember Mint Royale’s label questioning my casting of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt in my ‘Blue Song’ video,” he said. “They wanted someone bigger, even despite our low budget and the fact that both actors were working for free to help me out.”
“I told the label that they would soon be huge. Cut to a few years later and they are now cult superstars all over the planet.”
Cut to 14 years later, and the video is a little YouTube time capsule of some of the most influential British pop culture from the past decade. It’s an experiment in the musical choreography that would make Edgar Wright iconic (remember that incredible Queen sequence in Shaun of the Dead?), an introduction to the Mighty Boosh boys on screen (they’d film the series one year later), and maybe the first mainstream recognition of Noel Fielding’s weirdly entrancing dancing.
Baby Driver is in cinemas from July 8. Watch out for a little nod to the music video later on in the film too.