The Society of Composers and Lyricists hosted a panel discussion at LA’s Landmark Regent Theater on Feb. 6 to showcase Daytime Emmy Awards hopefuls who write music for children’s animated programs. The four composers taking part were Grammy-winner Lisa Loeb (“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”), Jim Lang (“Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie” and “Ready Jet Go!”), Lisbeth Scott (“Tumble Leaf”) and Jake Monaco (“The Stinky and Dirty Show” and “Dinotrux”). Also adding insight was Emmy-winning music supervisor Rossanna Wright (“The Stinky and Dirty Show” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”).
“An important thing to remember is kids hold onto these songs for life,” said Wright, a Daytime Emmy winner for her work on “The Snowy Day” (Best Music Direction and Composition in 2017). When asked during the audience Q&A for advice to aspiring composers and songwriters she encouraged the tunesmiths to “watch the show that you want to work in. Find out what resonates with you and why.”
Scott agreed, adding that she recently wrote a lullaby for “Tumble Leaf” that has proved popular with her own family and friends. “My goddaughter always insists on hearing it before she falls asleep,” she revealed. She earned a pair of Annie nominations (Best Music in 2015 and 2018) for her work on the Amazon series about colorful woodland creatures, and for her the goal is “sculpting music to the movement of each of the characters.”
Like Scott, Monaco often looks for guidance from his own family for his work. “I have a three-and-a-half-year-old son,” he explained. “He watches ‘Stinky and Dirty’ and he absolutely loves it. If they’re happy, it’s working.”
Lang was an Annie nominee for his work on the main title song from “Lloyd in Space” (2001). He also composed the music for Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold!” during its original run (1994-2004) and came back 13 years later for “The Jungle Movie” in 2017. For him, working in animation gives him “the opportunity to create a unique musical landscape that fits the production. My favorite thing about working for kids is that you get to play in that sandbox and really have a good time.”
Loeb delved into the world of children’s music after penning the grown-up number-one hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film “Reality Bites” (1994). “It was almost like doing musical theater,” she recalled. “It’s fun trying to fit together the lyrics and the theme and the feel. It’s so different from writing music under your umbrella.” Loeb won a Grammy earlier this year for her children’s album “Feel What You Feel,” so that shift sure seems to be working.
Contenders in the Best Music Direction and Composition category must submit a single episode from their series for Emmy consideration. Those competing in the Best Song race must submit a clip from the episode with their original tune, along with the lyrics printed on the application form. Submissions are then evaluated by a panel of judges selected specifically for each category using a ratings score system of 1-10 (“1” being the best, “2” being the 2nd best, etc.) that evaluates creativity and execution.
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