I first heard the song “A Real Hero” when I saw the Ryan Gosling film Drive back in September. The song was featured multiple times in the film and rounds out what is truly a gorgeous soundtrack. I have been obsessed with it ever since. First of all, the film is amazing: stylistic, pulpy, different from anything else out there, and expertly executed. Go see it.

But back to the song: it was originally released as part of a five track EP in January 2010. This number is a collaboration between French electronic solo act, College, and Canada-based pop duo, Electric Youth.

Both College and Electric Youth were relatively unknown before the use of their song in the noir-ish film. College runs a blog, works as a music producer, and has only released the aforementioned EP and 2 LPs. His previous music reveals a sound that leans heavily towards the experimental.

Fun fact! College is based in the French town of Nantes, which is also the title of a beautiful song by Beirut (and my personal fave from the band).

Electric Youth hails from Toronto and produces music at the other end of the spectrum: a throwback to 80s pop. But not in an ironic hipster too-cool-for-school kind of way—in an, “this could actually be a bubblegum pop hit from 1987” way. In fact, the couple’s stage name comes from the title of an 80s album by Debbie Gibson.

It’s an unlikely pairing on paper, but the marriage of College’s powerful synth line and Bronwyn’s hypnotic vocals (the female voice of Electric Youth) produces something truly magical. “A Real Hero” is a song that is at once romantic and grounded, but also a bit of a parable. Words are failing me, but let me leave by saying it is a piece of music that will stay with you long after the credits roll and/or you turn off your iPod.

Notable Lyrics

Back against the wall at odds
With the strength of a militant cause
A pursuit some called outstanding
Or emotionally complex

Against the grain of dystopic claims
On the thoughts your actions entertained
And you have proved to be

A real human being and a real hero
Real human being and a real hero