Composer has harder job with BMW than creating a movie soundtrack!

Composer has harder job with BMW than creating a movie soundtrack!

by Danielle Thompson (May 2021)

BMW’s latest M-badged offering sounds like a great car – and one that can trace its roots all the way back to  Video Killed The Radio Star

Wondering what a new arrival from Munich’s best-known purveyors of performance motoring could possibly have to do with a new wave hit from the late Seventies (which, incidentally, was the first song ever played by MTV)?

Well, it’s all to do with one of the band’s experts in synthesisers, who’s now been lined up to give you goosebumps when you put your foot down. 

Even if you’ve never heard of Hans Zimmer and you aren’t old enough to remember The Buggles, you’ll probably know his work.

The German composer and record producer is best known for his work on film soundtracks, adding his aural expertise to more than 150 movies.  The Lion King Gladiator.  Pirates of the CaribbeanInception. Dunkirk.  Blade Runner 2049. If you’ve seen any of them at your nearest multiplex, then you’ll have heard Hans Zimmer’s handiwork first-hand. 

But now he’s been given a far tougher gig than doing the score for  The Dark Knight – convincing car enthusiasts that they’ll enjoy an electric model just as much as a petrol one.

BMW knows all too well that the howl of, say, an E46-generation M3’s perfectly tuned straight six is one of the key sources behind the car’s enjoyment, and that if it isn’t careful all of its go-faster offerings could end up sounding like depressed milk floats by 2030. So, it’s handed over to Hans to create a synthesised soundtrack for its M-badged versions of the i4.  That car isn’t due to be launched until later this year, so instead I ended up watching a video that Hans and BMW did the other day to show their working.

There’s lots of stuff about being clever with synthesisers – although probably not enough to trouble Daft Punk fans – and about how performance BMWs need to sound explosive, but it was only at the very end that you got the briefest snippet of how the i4 M is going to assault your eardrums.

It sounds like…. well, it sounds like a BMW when you put your foot down! 

Surely, if I were the BMW Group’s creative director for sound (and yes, that job title really does exist), I’d be wanting Hans to come up with something that easily tops his work on  Tenet.

If the i4 M’s going to be the first performance BMW to have its own score, I’d want it to sound like the best bits of an Aston Martin V12, an Alfa Romeo V6 and a Lotus Twin Cam, depending on what mood you’re in and which part of the rev range you’re exploring. Or, given that Hans is world class when it comes to synthesisers, something that easily outdoes anything Bronski Beat could manage. Or The Buggles, for that matter. 

BMW were never going to be there first with an electric performance car, as Tesla chucked its towel on that deckchair years ago. But it can at least make it sound better than anyone else can.

I presume you’ll be able to stream the finished result on iTunes too… 

David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly

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