With all due respect to Lizzo, Calvin Harris, and yes, even Beyoncé, the album of the summer is here, and it comes courtesy of the Minions.
Sure, the entire internet (including this site) roasted Jack Antonoff when he released the tracklist for the soundtrack back in May Minions: The Rise of Gruthe fifth installment in the minions Franchise. But despite that mockery – and against all odds and every shred of common sense – the animated film has managed to deliver the funniest and most comforting album of the summer so far.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock to those familiar with it Despicable Me cinematic universe. No matter what you think of the yellow, gibberish-spewing creatures invariably adored by meme-loving Facebook moms, the music in the Minions world has always been on point. Mike Knobloch, President of Global Music at Universal Pictures, attributes this accomplishment to the “slightly left-leaning musical identity” he helped build at Illumination, the studio behind the films. Remember, it was Illumination that hired Tyler, the creator, to helm the soundtrack for the 2018 CGI version Spoilsport— a collaboration that worked shockingly well, largely because it managed not to completely dilute Tyler’s style.
To the Minions: The Rise of Gru, the music was somewhat predestined. Set largely in San Francisco in 1976, the film chronicles young Gru’s (voiced by Steve Carell) quest to become the world’s most notorious supervillain. There’s music embedded in the plot – Gru’s evil lair is hidden under a record store called Criminal Records, and the track that unlocks the trapdoor is fittingly Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good”.
When it came time to curate the film’s soundtrack, Knobloch approached Antonoff, pop music’s favorite producer, who had previously worked with the studio on a couple of occasions, including recording a Paul Simon cover The Secret Life of Pets 2 and produced Taylor Swift and Zayn’s Fifty tones darker Collaboration “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”.
“We were somehow already in a groove and always looking for something that we could sink our teeth into together,” says Knobloch about working with the Bleachers frontman. “And then this minions The movie offered a really great opportunity to go beyond “let’s just put 70’s songs in the movie”. There was an opportunity to say, ‘Okay, what can we do with these songs, and do they have to be real articles, or is there an opportunity to do covers, updated interpretations, refreshments of the songs?’”
He continued, “And so it started with ‘What do we have to do for the film?’ and then it built up, since we’re playing around in the sandbox of 70’s songs, why don’t we do something new? Let’s put together this lineup of ’70s songs and tracks covered by the coolest artists of all time who are showing up because they want to work with Jack and be a part of this project.”
The concept behind the album is pretty simple: a collection of 70’s songs reimagined by contemporary artists. But execution is far from predictable, with a roster of collaborators that includes rappers Brockhampton and Tierra Whack, indie-it girls Caroline Polachek and Phoebe Bridgers, and more classic rockers like Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard . Some of the most amazing tracks include St. Vincent’s hazy, vocoder-heavy version of “Funky Town” and Thundercat’s sparkling, dazed rendition of “Fly Like an Eagle,” both of which add a touch of futurism to an otherwise retro album. And with his bilingual version of “Born to Be Alive,” Jackson Wang, a Hong Kong-based rapper and member of South Korean band GOT7, lends some global street cred to make the album feel even more modern. Ditto for Kali Uchis, who sneaks through a cover of João Gilberto’s bossa nova standard “Desafinado”.
Knobloch admits there were many artists they approached for the soundtrack who said no, as well as a few who needed convincing, but ultimately he believes the appeal for most musicians was pushing outside of their own sounds too experimenting—like St. Vincent, whom he met while visiting Antonoff in a Los Angeles studio during the making of their album Dad is at homeand which most music fans would probably have considered “too cool” for a minions Soundtrack.
“We told her about the project and talked about songs, and in conversation, ‘Funky Town’ came up. It was just an opportunity to address her personally and let her go: “I love this song. I want to do this cover,'” says Knobloch, adding, “This soundtrack is a vehicle for them to do something they look forward to that might not otherwise have the right platform or medium to do something like that releasing a song as part of their artist brand or the music cycles they release.”
And then there’s what Knobloch calls the soundtrack’s “crown jewel”: “Turn Up the Sunshine,” an original song by Tame Impala and living icon Diana Ross, which is heard in the film and in the credits. It’s an unlikely team-up, but one that ultimately gives the album its spizziest, sunniest, and Song-of-the-Summer-friendly moment. Think of it as sort of a cousin to Pharrell’s equally bubbly “Happy,” easily The’s biggest hit yet Despicable Me world, which Knobloch and his team could hardly imagine without as a blueprint.
Nice, Minions: The Rise of Gru is a box office hit that broke July 4th holiday records with its $127 million opening this weekend. We’ll see if that carries over to the soundtrack, which was also released on July 1st, to be equally successful on the charts or produce a hit on “Happy” level, but it certainly has a lot to offer. In addition to its all-ages appeal and diverse artist roster, the album also fits comfortably with one of the biggest music trends of the past two years: ’70s and disco-inspired dance tunes. Knobloch points out that this is a happy coincidence, considering the soundtrack was created in 2019 and 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the film’s release back to 2022, and before the success of Doja Cat’s Say So”, Dua Lipas nostalgia of the futureor ABBA’s resurgence on TikTok.
“I think what was a bit strange is that if we had released the album and movie with his music in 2020, we felt like we were a little bit ahead of the curve with music trends,” Knobloch reasoned. “It felt like we were putting out 70’s style music and some of it was a little disco and some of it was just 70’s pop and R&B. And it felt like the music was going in that direction, but we were ahead of the curve I think. There was a bit like, ‘Oh, we could have been in front of it instead of behind it.’ I think it’s just because we have a lot of time to live with it and look too closely.”
If anything, it’s a good thing. Maybe the Facebook moms were right and the Minions are really fun. At least, Antonoff’s soundtrack certainly does. “We made a record that’s a groovy soundtrack for your summer,” says Knobloch. “That’s the short version that sums it all up.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-minions-the-rise-of-gru-soundtrack-is-the-most-fun-album-of-the-summer?source=articles&via=rss The Rise of Gru soundtrack is the most entertaining album of the summer