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Exclusive Track By Track: Edgar Wright Discusses ‘The World’s End’ Soundtrack & His Musical Choices

Exclusive Track By Track: Edgar Wright Discusses 'The World's End' Soundtrack & His Musical Choices

With three films spanning just shy of 10 years, Edgar Wright‘s Cornetto Trilogy ends this weekend, but it ends with a bang. The director’s third film in his loose trilogy — which always includes his pals Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is “The World’s End” — a sci-fi-ish pub crawl comedy with heart and mind that actually focuses on nostalgia for one’s youth, the meaning of friendship and even the idea of how globalization can change what you once knew as home.

A funny, entertaining and fitting ending to the Cornetto trilogy (which includes “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Hot Fuzz“), music has been integral to all of Wright’s films including his pop-soundtrack-stacked, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” (which featured the likes of Beck, Broken Social Scene, Metric and more). And as a film that also acts as a warning about the dangers of nostalgia, the soundtrack to “The World’s End” looks back on the music the characters in the film listened to growing up: mainly late ’80s and early ’90s Britpop such as Blur, Pulp, Stone Roses, Suede, Teenage Fanclub and many many more (see the U.S. and U.K. soundtracks here and here as they are slightly different; for completists, here’s a list of every song used in the movie regardless of whether it’s on any CD). We asked Wright — who we also already interviewed about “The World’s End” here — to do a track by track commentary for each song on the U.S. soundtrack and why he chose them, and the amiable filmmaker totally obliged. Note: Christopher Nolan, Michael Bay and even Jason Reitman would never ever do this for any site, much less us. What a mensch. “The World’s End” opens tomorrow, Friday, August 23rd.

 

“Loaded” – Primal Scream
Early in the writing process we made a playlist of songs from 1988 to 1993, roughly the period where Simon and I were in school and college. The idea was to use Gary King’s party anthems as a woozy link to the past. Gary still listened to these party anthems and wanted to take the hedonistic spirit as a design for living. “Loaded” quickly became the song that rose right to the top of the playlist. Not only do the vocal samples from Roger Corman’s “Wild Angels” summon up the perfect note of youthful rebellion, but also the song was a musical gateway drug for me. In my teens I had mostly listened to current pop or looked backwards, starting with my parents’ Beatles, Stones and Simon & Garfunkel, and then listening to all the Bowie, Roxy Music and Queen that I could. Around 1990 though, the indie scene started to gatecrash the charts and I specifically remember hearing “Loaded” on the UK Top 40 when it entered at Number 37. Apart from the amazing opening sample, I was confused and wowed by Andy Wetherall’s groundbreaking sounds. This song was a window into a cooler world and I still play it endlessly today.


“There’s No Other Way” – Blur
Blur’s 1991 breakthrough was with this evergreen indie disco classic. For a while this song was a millstone for Blur as it wasn’t until “Girls & Boys” in 1994 that they managed to have a second top ten hit. Judging by the fact that they’ve enthusiastically blasted it out on recent tours must mean they love it once more, now they have 20 years of other hits under their belts. Even though it was firmly on the baggy dance bandwagon, it’s pure indie gold.


“I’m Free” – The Soup Dragons
The Soup Dragons were previously known as the jangly members of the C86, had a surprise smash in 1990 with their cover of Rolling Stones B-side “I’m Free.” This wrongly put them in the one-hit wonder bracket for many, but at least they could be proud of the fact that this song was bigger than any Stone Roses, Charlatans, Blur or Happy Mondays song in the U.S. When I recently heard it in a Burbank IKEA I knew that ’90s nostalgia had finally arrived. That sealed its prominent place in the movie. I’ll admit that I can’t not sing along to this. It’s still an infectious summer smash and perfect for Gary King’s road trip mix tape.


“So Young” – Suede
I dearly love this song and I think its mix of joy and melancholia is perhaps the perfect bittersweet anthem for the characters of “The World’s End.” We used this for a scene where our heroes are walking the streets of Newton Haven in slow motion. Usually this type of five-wide walking montage is designed for Vegas or Manhattan gloss, but I like that it soundtracks the autumnal streets of a British new town. This song is such a hit of nostalgia, it fires me right back to 1993 and Vauxhall Chevette where me and Corin Hardy listened to the Suede debut on audio cassette and belted out every tune.


“Do You Remember The First Time?” – Pulp
I dearly love this song. Like Suede’s single, this is another epic of melancholic longing. Only British singers like Jarvis Cocker can make bitterness and regret sound anthemic. This was from Pulp’s breakthrough album His & Hers. I was not au fait with them in their long road to stardom, they took over a decade to hit the big time, but I sat up and took notice with “Lipgloss,” “Babies” and this amazing track. In the movie, this song soundtracks the awkward love triangle between Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike and Paddy Considine.


“What You Do To Me” – Teenage Fanclub
One of my favourite shots in “The World’s End” is one of Paddy Considine pining after Rosamund Pike and staring with puppy dog eyes at her walking away. When we shot the moment I played the intro from Teenage Fanclub’s song on my laptop to get Paddy in the mood. It’s a great, infectious song that both me and Considine loved at the time and still love now. At the L.A. premiere of “The World’s End” I met Dave Grohl for the first time. He loved the film, but he especially remarked on the use of Teenage Fanclub. That is pretty damn cool.


“Fools Gold” – The Stone Roses
1990 was the year that indie crashed the charts. “Fools Gold” hitting the top ten in the summer of 1990 was a big deal and not just because of their nonchalant performance on “Top Of The Pops.” For me it was a big moment too, as they represented a gateway drug into alternative music. In the movie we give a new meaning to the title, as the fools gold in our story is lager itself. When the chorus kicks in, our “hero” Gary King contemplates stealing the dregs of strangers’ lager. Fools Gold indeed.


“Get A Life” – Soul II Soul
This was one of those bands that I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of at the time, but they were so huge in 1989 / 1990 that both myself and Pegg thought it was perfect to include them here. This song is an immediate nostalgia hit for me to long summers and school days. It also appears in the movie just as Gary King has triggered his own intervention from his friends. Nick Frost’s character Andy says it’s time that Gary grew up and join society right about the time that Jazzy B raps the following. “Be selective, be objective, be an asset to the collective.”


“Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” – The Doors
As soon as we had the story for “The World’s End” this song popped up in my head. I was a fan of the David Bowie version first (and indeed tried to make that one work at the end of the movie, it didn’t) but The Doors cover of the Berthold Brecht / Kurt Weill song is so majestic and spooky that it simply had to feature. The lyric of the song “Show me the way to the next whiskey bar, oh don’t ask why, for if we don’t find the next whiskey bar, I tell you we must die” pretty much sums up the whole movie. I don’t know how we could be any more on the nose. I absolutely adore The Doors cover, if only just for the late great Ray Manzarek’s marxophone solo. It’s my favourite track of the film.


“Wear Your Love Like Heaven” – Definition of Sound
This song was an indie disco floor filler back in 1990 so it seemed like the perfect song to be in the movie. It’s odd that this gem doesn’t get the same play as Dee Lite as it’s ridiculously catchy. Ironically we had a more doomy Pixies song in this slot originally, the moody “Stormy Weather” from Bossa Nova. When this choice became prohibitively expensive, we decided to bump it for an upbeat song instead. The counter scoring works for me, it’s somehow funnier to have a dance classic in the scene than a sinister one.


“20 Seconds To Comply” – Silver Bullet
This is a Brit rap classic that exploded onto the charts around 1991. It doesn’t get as much play as it should, but more than 20 years and this “Robocop” sampling track stills sound fast and extremely furious. It was pretty much the only choice for Nick Frost’s big fight sequence where he goes completely berserk. I never tire of watching this fight scene and Silver Bullet’s song is one of the big reasons why.


“This Corrosion” – Sisters of Mercy
This song is so great we played it not once, not twice, but thrice. This is the sound of Gary King’s very own gothpocalypse. Pegg is a true Sisters fan and in fact had a full-on black fingernails goth phase in his teens. When we cleared the use of the Sisters t-shirt that Simon wears in the movie, we discovered that lead singer Andrew Eldritch was a big fan of ‘Shaun’ and ‘Fuzz’. I’ve never heard Simon so excited and that’s saying something. I love the Jim Steinman production on this single. It’s just beyond epic and seemed fitting to be the song to play out in our happy end of the world.


“Happy Hour” – The Housemartins
I’m a big believer in putting a song at the end of your movie that you can never tire of hearing. In ‘Shaun’ it was Queen’s “You’re my Best Friend” and in ‘Fuzz’ it was “Caught By The Fuzz” and so in that peppy tradition, I like the idea of contrasting the gloom of the apocalypse with this evergreen jangle classic. Songwriter Paul Heaton appears elsewhere in the movie with “Old Red Eyes Is Back” by his band The Beautiful South. That man knows his drinking songs and is underrated as a great British songsmith.

And while we’re at it, five clips from the film below. “The World’s End” comes out this weekend Friday, August 23.

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Comments

Sharon

I think I heard "The Big Country" theme in the very beginning; right?

Art

Edgar is the man. Saw the film at the Alamo Drafthouse and they played the The Housemartins' music video before the showing and I think I have a new favorite song / video. (Bonus points – I didn't know Norman Cooke was in the music business before Fatboy Slim).

Kcorrie

Thank you Mr. Wright for the insight on your music choices. That era of music (late 80's – early 90's) was my favorite and listening to your selection brought back good memories. Based on the music alone, I will see your movie!

Cody M.

Awesome stuff! What would be the chances of talking him into doing this for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? :) I have the UK soundtracks but would love to read his thoughts on the choices. The music guides for Spaced that he did on a fansite I can't link to (just search for "spaced-out") are very cool.

Panda Dong

Great article! Edgar Wright is a charming dude and it's always nice to see how much he loves the process of filmmaking and sharing that process. Thanks for a really good read.

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