‘Last Night in Soho’: Edgar Wright’s Specially Curated 1960s Soundtrack Infuses Film with a Style All its Own

Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Last Night in Soho is the new film from Edgar Wright, known for his previous works including Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Baby Driver, among others. Over the years, Wright has cultivated a global audience enamored with his unmistakable style as a filmmaker, and his latest film adds a masterstroke to an already impressive resume.

Premiering in theaters this weekend, Last Night in Soho is set in present-day London, but what gives the film its unique sense of identity is the soundtrack, which leans heavily on classic (and under-the-radar) music from 1960s-era London.

Thomasin McKenzie portrays Ellie, an aspiring fashion designer who moves to the big city from the countryside and has a strong affinity for the classics, rather than contemporary music. This is made apparent from the minute the film begins, Ellie dancing around her room to the sounds of Peter & Gordon’s “A World Without Love.”

That music is also a driving element that connects the two disparate eras and drive the film’s plot, which kicks into gear when Ellie begins having dreams involving a mysterious ’60s lounge singer named Sandie (played by Anya Taylor-Joy of the Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit). Before long, some unsettling things begin happening as the dreams alter Ellie’s sense of reality, though we won’t go further in that regard to avoid any spoilers of what happens.

Wright’s films have a strong sense of identity and flair, and the music selections featured in Last Night in Soho are very much a reflection of his own tastes. As Wright told Entertainment Weekly in a new story this week, his work on a playlist for more than a decade, in effect, was a key element in the film’s development:

“I’ve been amassing 60 songs or so that I liked since 2007,” Wright says. “So I guess at some point the songs became like post-it notes to remind me to write the movie.”

last night in soho soundtrack

McKenzie, 21, is wonderful in the main role, balancing the creeping onset of unease with her character’s youthful naivety as things get progressively strange. As she told EW:

“The movie really moves to the rhythm of the songs that are playing in the background, and those songs tell your own story and become your own character. There was music playing in the background, and sometimes if it wasn’t music it would be metronome beats. You’d hear the tick and you’d have to be exactly on that beat. The continuity on this film was unlike anything I’d ever done before.”

In the build-up to the movie’s release, a music video was released of Taylor-Joy singing the Petula Clark classic “Downtown,” which is another key moment in the film. It’s one of three recordings sung by the actor on the soundtrack:

“The first music that I fell in love with was the music of the ’60s,” Taylor-Joy said to EW. “My playlists for both Sandie and Beth [from The Queen’s Gambit] was the playlists of my teenage years. It was all the music that I listened to when I was growing up.”

It all adds up to an unforgettable cinematic experience held up by a soundtrack that essentially feels like a character in itself, a crucial element of a film that seamlessly jumps generations and styles … to increasingly harrowing results.

The track listing:

A World Without Love – Peter & Gordon
Wishin’ and Hopin’ – Dusty Springfield
Don’t Throw Your Love Away – The Searchers
Beat Girl (1993 Remaster) – The John Barry Orchestra
Starstruck – The Kinks
You’re My World – Cilla Black
Wade in the Water (Live at Klooks Kleek) – The Graham Bond Organisation
I’ve Got My Mind Set on You – James Ray
(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave – The Who
Puppet on a String – Sandie Shaw
Land of 1000 Dances – The Walker Brothers
There’s a Ghost in My House – R. Dean Taylorz
Happy House – Siouxsie & the Banshees
(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me – Sandie Shaw
Eloise – Barry Ryan
Anyone Who Had a Heart – Cilla Black
Last Night in Soho – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Neon (Soundtrack Edit) – Steven Price
Downtown (A Capella) – Anya Taylor-Joy
Downtown (Uptempo) – Anya Taylor-Joy
You’re My World – Anya Taylor-Joy

Stream the soundtrack below.

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