Why ‘Girls5eva’ composer Jeff Richmond used a ‘different kind of palette’ for the band’s new (and still very funny) songs [Exclusive Video Interview]

Season 2 of “Girls5eva” has even more hilarious, catchy tunes than Season 1, but if you listen closely they’re not quite the same. With the titular girl group being in album mode and recording their first LP in 20 years for the Property Brothers‘ Property Records, their new songs had to take on a different vibe, according to composer and executive producer Jeff Richmond.

“Last season, we were in this place where we were bringing this girl group back from the late 1990s and the 2000s, so we knew that we’d be visiting a lot of music from that time period,” Richmond tells Gold Derby (watch above). “So we could go into TLC and Spice Girls and all these kind of familiar but old songs and iconic kind of songs, and the jokes that we would have back in those days, which were all these kind of girl power, empowerment kind of songs but they were all still kind of inappropriate and sexist just because that was the time period. So last season we had that, but this season, now that they’re in album mode and now that we know that the character of Dawn, played by Sara Bareilles, is actually writing their album, we had to start thinking about what would they be doing today… so that was a different kind of palette and it was very fun and enjoyable.”

The season tracks Dawn, Wickie (Renee Elise Goldsberry), Summer (Busy Philipps) and Gloria (Paula Pell) recording their album, usually with one song per episode and sometimes fulfilling a trope quota (a revenge song, a love song, etc). The lyrics are typically written by creator Meredith Scardino and the writers, and just like last season, Bareilles penned one song herself. The season premiere, which Richmond also directed, features “Momentum,” which is about the group’s, well, newfound momentum after crashing Jingle Ball in the Season 1 finale and scoring a record deal.

“It was a lot to juggle,” Richmond says of helming the opener. “Pre-production, do we have this song together? I have to film this song, I have to kind of write it, I have to work with Meredith. ‘Momentum’ was interesting because it was the first one of this year where we wanted it to sound like of today. The writers are very specific — could it be a Dua Lipa thing? Could it have kind of a nouveau disco kind of thing like her last album? So we knew it would be like that and we knew we wanted to give it a good charge and a lot of energy because it was our first kind of anthemic, driving song to come back with. Meredith is a very good lyricist. I work with a lot of comedy writer lyricists. She is a joke machine and a joke machine that can rhyme, so that’s a lot of fun, but she had a lot of great ideas and a good word game within that one.”

SEE How ‘Girls5eva’ costume designer Matthew Hemesath made Wickie’s coat from the ‘Nicole Kidman Undoing Collection’

One of the episode’s funniest scenes includes another song though. After the writers wrote in Pell’s real-life knee surgery, Gloria gets high on Percocet as the band is about to go on a podcast and she starts singing a jingle in her mind as the camera zooms in on her face. Percocet, it turns out, stands for “pink-eyed rabbits charging on claws eternally tender.” “Who knew? Who knows what some of this stuff is? Some of it is very clinical. Some of it is medicinal. That was just off the wall there. That’s Meredith,” Richmond quips of the acronym. “We knew we were going to shoot this thing just like that. It was going to be a long zoom. We worked with the grips and with [cinematographer] John Inwood about this rig that the camera would sit on and move. We built all this stuff and hauled it up seven flights of this building where this loft set was at. We just kind of all knew the best real estate for something to be funny was this song going on and just seeing Paula Pell’s face. It’s hilarious. She doesn’t have to do much and yet she’s doing a million things.”

There was one composition that the Emmy winner wrote — or more like reverse-engineered — that did not have lyrics. In the fourth episode, Dawn and her husband Scott (Daniel Breaker) sit down to watch their favorite show “Business Throne,” a parody of “Succession.” As a “previously on” segment unrolls offscreen, you hear “Business Thrones'” Logan Roy utter obscenities while a theme that sounds very similar to Nicholas Britell‘s iconic theme plays.

“I’m a huge fan of that show and I’m a huge fan of the music of that show, and so when that came around, I was like, ‘Oh, God, I gotta get close, but I can’t get too close.’ I don’t wanna get in any legal trouble,” Richmond shares. “So I changed the chord progression around, which I thought was just enough. If someone did that to a theme song that I had written, I would be like, ‘Ah! Thank you! That is such flattery.’ So I hope they take it that way. But that episode is hilarious. Just one really inappropriate line and you just knew it.”

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