Song of the Day: “Hocus Pocus”


This week, we’re putting together a list of tracks that come straight from the scenes of our favorite films. Music and movies go hand in hand, and sometimes it’s nice to give the proper respect due when they’re paired together particularly nicely.

Yesterday, we looked at “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee, which was featured in the soundtrack for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”. We saw how the song wasn’t the writers’ first choice, but still made a good fit for the movie.

To continue with our theme this week, our next song comes from a movie known for its intentional music choices and killer soundtrack. From director Edgar Wright, we’re drawing from the soundtrack for “Baby Driver” today.

Baby Driver

This is another movie that I can’t express how much I love. Not for its mediocre plot or cardboard characters, but for its unique filming style, and for the large role that music plays in it.

In “Baby Driver”, every single track tells us more about the main character, Baby. The get-away driver with tinnitus who listens to music to drown out the constant ringing in his ears.

For every song that plays in the film, there are intentional synchronizations in the directing, acting, and sound engineering. The music bleeds over the edges of the film, making each scene feel larger than life, as if there really is a perfect song for every moment.

In an interview with Digital Trends, Julian Slater, the film’s re-recording mixer, sound designer, and supervising sound editor, spoke about the challenges they faced.

“There was no roadmap for doing something like this. If you just take the synchronization of the sound effects to the music, that in itself is quite a complex thing to do. People in the sound community normally work in timecode, but for this we had to switch over and work in bars and beats. So every song in the movie was what we call “tempo-mapped,” where you map out the tempo to any given point in the music”.

Hocus Pocus

One of my favorite scenes in “Baby Driver” is a foot-chase near the end of the film. This scene, like many others featured tempo-mapping. Later in his interview, Julian Slater talked specifically about this scene.

“The tempo of that track is not a constant thing. It’s not a “1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4…” thing. It varies … All the police sirens are mapped to that tempo, so they need to be in sync at any given time to that music. That’s great to try and make the sirens sound kind of musical, but you also have to pitch-correct them to make the sirens sound musical based on that tempo — but when the tempo speeds up, the sirens sound crazy”.

It’s pretty unusual to have the background music for a heart-pounding chase sequence be an instrumental, prog-rock track that features yodeling. But then again, there wasn’t much usual about the way “Baby Driver” was made.

And somehow, it works perfectly. The frantic pace of the guitars matches Baby’s flight and state of mind. And the periodic pauses for yodeling or accordion solos fit the context as he hides to catch his breath, or breaks into a car.

Final Thoughts

The reason I chose this song out of the dozens of gems from the “Baby Driver” soundtrack is that, for a movie that revolves around car chases, the best and most explosive chase scene is on foot. And “Hocus Pocus” by Focus is the reason why the scene comes off as explosive as it does.

Also, I appreciate any song that can make me not mind yodeling. That’s an impressive feat in itself.


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