Christopher Lennertz interview: ‘The Boys’ songwriter
When it comes to parody songs, “Never Truly Vanish” from “The Boys” is definitely up there. “I will say it probably is one of the best dramatic uses of a power ballad of all time because you don’t get a chance often to write a power ballad for a dead superhero that blew up with an internally inserted explosion,” Christopher Lennertz, who earned an Emmy nomination for co-writing the tune with Michael Saltzman, tells Gold Derby at our Meet the BTL Experts: Composers panel (watch above).
A full-stop power ballad that is perfect for karaoke, “Never Truly Vanish” is performed by Starlight (Erin Moriarty) at Translucent’s (Alex Hassell) funeral in the Season 2 premiere in tribute to the fallen superhero. Sample lyrics: “And though we could see through you / It seem we hardly knew we confess / Thanks to what you’ve done we’ve all been blessed.” Lennertz, who also scores the Amazon series, prefers not to know what’s coming up on the show until spotting sessions, but he learned of his new task when he was sent the Season 2 premiere script months before production began.
“I got this script in my inbox and Erik [Kripke, the showrunner] said, ‘You’re gonna wanna look at this one because I need you to out-Celine Dion Celine Dion,'” Lennertz recalls. “I remember reading the script and being like, ‘Oh, my God, this is gonna be so much fun.’ I tend to love really over-the-top straight parody, especially in music. I got to do it in ‘Sausage Party’ and working with Alan Menken on ‘Galavant.’ … The straighter you play it, the funnier it is, and as soon as I read it, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is a perfect setup.'”
Saltzman had already written some lyrics, so Lennertz built on those and composed the music, including a massive drum section during the bridge. He also looked to some pop divas for inspiration. “I went through all of my favorites — Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Adele, Bonnie Tyler from the 80s. There are so many great power ballads and I sort of like got them all in my head for a couple days and sat down. Erik and I talked about it, and he said, ‘It’s gotta have the contemporary production of an Adele, but it should be sufficiently cheesy,’ like ‘Titanic’ or something like that. That’s where it all came from,” he explains. “There was no light touch for this. This was swing for the fence and as over the top as we can make it. It would be funnier if we were really over the top.”
Writing parody songs is “a sandbox that every composer wants to play in, every songwriter wants to play in,” according to Lennertz. “But we actually don’t get asked to play in [it] very often. And when we do, if it’s not a parody, if it’s a serious situation, you do have to play it with a lighter touch … so to have the handcuffs taken off … that’s like every songwriter’s dream.”
And yes, there will be more tunes in Season 3. “There are some really, really fun in-world song moment that people can look forward to,” Lennertz teases.