How Artists Like D.R.A.M. and Neil Young Collaborated For Netflix's 'Bright' Soundtrack

Will Smith & Joel Edgerton
Matt Kennedy/Netflix

Smith (left) and Joel Edgerton star as two Los Angeles cops in the Netflix original movie Bright.

Netflix’s hotly anticipated feature Bright, out Dec. 22, follows two police officers in a dystopian Los Angeles where humans coexist -- and clash -- with magical “Orcs,” to the sounds of ultra-contemporary pop. Atlantic Records’ Kevin Weaver and director David Ayer (Suicide Squad) crafted a 13-song soundtrack with new music from Camila Cabello, Snoop Dogg, Neil Young and more.

The key to their success? Ayer characterizes their working relationship with one rule: “There’s no BS.”


Weaver and Ayer first had to sell Netflix on the album -- the platform has never released an original feature soundtrack. “It came down to, ‘Is Netflix going to drink our Kool-Aid?’” says Weaver. He took yet another leap by linking “Broccoli” rapper D.R.A.M. with rock icon Young on “Campfire.” “Soundtracks can rile artists to do things that they wouldn't traditionally do on their own projects,” he says.


Ayer admits the record took some juggling: “You’re always cutting and evolving the movie, so you’re trying to build a house out of parts that keep changing.” As a result, each track went through several iterations -- Ayer’s favorite, “Home,” started as a solo song until Machine Gun Kelly, Bebe Rexha and X Ambassadors tried it as a trio for kicks. “It was like unwrapping a present,” says Ayer. “It kept getting better.”


Bright is set in a fictional world, but Bastille’s Dan Smith says its themes of social injustice hit home. “We live in a time where the world is as on its head as [in] the film.” That inspired his dreamy, string-laden track, “World Gone Mad.” After seeing an early edit of the film in New York, he says, “Will Smith pulls out a gun, everything is in slow motion, [then] my voice came in. I was like, ‘This is nuts!’”

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of Billboard.