‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Team on Creating the Music for the Show: ‘Making It Funny Has to Come First’

2/19/2016 by

The original television soundtrack for The CW’s quirky musical comedy, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend arrived on Friday (Feb. 19), via WaterTower Music. The acclaimed show snagged co-creator and star Rachel Bloom a Golden Globe for best actress in a television series – comedy in January for her portrayal of Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer who impulsively moves cross-country to West Covina, Calif., to pursue her former beau Josh. Several times per episode, she and her co-stars burst into immensely catchy, fully-realized, choreographed songs, written by Bloom, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger (the show’s executive music producer) and Jack Dolgen.

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Out now, the digital release — tagged Season 1-Volume 1 — features 25 songs spanning the first nine episodes of the CW series. A second volume will come out following the end of season 1 this spring. With several episodes in the season still to air, those involved hope the soundtrack will serve as not only a thank you to the show’s devoted fan base, but also bring more viewers to the show, which has struggled in the ratings, despite great reviews. "There’s so much more potential to be garnering us more fans," Bloom says. "Releasing an album is a tangible way to say ‘We’re to be taken seriously’ and hope that people find it and it draws them to the show."

Most of the songs are already available online and for sale individually, but Schlesinger says, "We wanted to compile them all in a way that’s easy to find in one place." Adds Bloom, "People remain confused how to buy the music."

Schlesinger, who was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the punchy title track to 1996’s That Thing You Do, approached longtime colleague Jason Linn, senior VP of WaterTower, about putting out the music. Since the soundtrack includes a number of previously unreleased demo versions, the collection is a way for fans to "see how they went from demo to fully produced songs," says WaterTower Music online marketing manager Rocco Carrozza.

It’s quite the process to get to the "fully-produced songs," especially since they have to be completed before shooting begins. Schlesinger, Dolgen, Bloom and the show’s co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna met to discuss the arc of several upcoming episodes. "They may not have any script that’s written," Schlesinger says. "They may have some song ideas or we know we want this character to have a song and we’ll start kicking around ideas. Sometimes we land on something everyone’s excited about, sometimes they’re changing at the last minute."

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Writing music for comedy means hitting different beats. "Making it funny has to come first," Schlesinger says. "You don’t want them to think, ‘That’s a nice horn counterpoint.’ You want them to get the joke."

As the show has evolved, so have Bloom’s and Schlesinger’s roles. Bloom concentrates mainly on lyrics and rhythm. "I can do those on set. For me to write music, I have to be at the piano and an hour of time to think about it, which I don’t have," she says. "Adam takes the music that I send and changes it for the better." Schlesinger started out also serving as the show’s composer, but writing the underscore in addition to his other duties was taking up too much time. "Aline said, ‘You’re very valuable to us as a composer, but you’re most valuable to us as a songwriter,’" he says. Schlesinger and Steven Gold also produce the show’s songs.

For now, the volumes will only be available digitally, but Bloom is advocating for a physical release. "I’m excited to have something tangible people can pop in a CD player. There’s something more personal about that." She also hopes to put out a sheet-music songbook.

So many of the songs are tied to the show’s visuals, but Bloom and Schlesinger think with few exceptions, such as "The Sexy Getting Ready Song," which hilariously depicts the elaborate machinations women go through to prep for dates, the audio works solo. "Most of them stand on their own," Bloom says.

The fate of the show is still in the hands of The CW, but Bloom remains "hopeful" that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will get picked up for another season.

Below are the demo and fully-produced versions of the stalkerish "Feelin’ Kinda Naughty." Bloom started the song as a much filthier version that she, Schlesinger and Dolgen knew would never get past the CW censors. Dolgen came up with the title "Feelin’ Kinda Naughty," and the song progressed from there.

"Feelin’ Kinda Naughty" final version: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6882492/crazy-ex-girlfriend-album-rachel-bloom-adam-schlesinger-music-interview