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HOP

Music Of The Film
The production team, under the direction of composer CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ and music supervisor JULIANNE JORDAN, set out to create a musical experience for Hop that was young and fun and encompassed the energy and excitement of the comedy. Both musical talents were previous Hill collaborators on Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Jordan helped to create the popular soundtrack for that film, which featured the signature "chipmunk” sound.

For Hop, the filmmakers recruited the Australianborn pop/R&B artist CODY SIMPSON to cover an updated version of "I Want Candy.” The drum-centric pop song ties into E.B.'s world and into key sequences and themes of the movie (e.g., Easter candy).

Though The Strangeloves originally recorded the song in 1965, most audiences are familiar with pop group Bow Wow Wow's 1982 cover, which became an irrepressible song that year. The filmmakers were pleased to have the 14-year-old Simpson, whose solo debut, "iYiYi (featuring Flo Rida),” join the project. Says Hill of their logic: "Of course we wanted him. Who wouldn't? Cody Simpson is fantastic. He has a real sense of how to be pop but not derivative, and his voice…well, it has a lot of emotion, but it's still got a nice edge, and he's able to work both sides of that.”

Additional key songs blend old school with modern music. They represent an interesting mix that includes "Dynamite,” R&B singer Taio Cruz's hit that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2010 and has sold more than four million digital copies in the U.S.; "We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup, which samples the 1956 song "Tu vuò fà l'americano” by Italian singer Renato Carosone and became a top-40 hit in the U.S. in 2011; "Every Rose Has its Thorn,” the power ballad by metal hair band Poison, which was released in 1988 and was the band's first No. 1 hit in the U.S.; "Celebrity Skin,” the 1998 debut single from the group Hole's third album, which reached No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart; and "Mr. Big Stuff ” by Nikki & Rich, which is the hip-hop/R&B duo's cover of Jean Knight's 1971 hit song.

Hill notes that he wanted the music to evolve over the course of the movie as we move through Fred and E.B.'s journey. He states: "We start with some very percussive-based, drum-circle-like drumming and then fold that into more pop stuff as the movie progresses. Then, naturally, we wanted to get some songs that were fun and topical. The audience will also hear some percussive elements in the score that support E.B.'s desire to be a drummer.”

Making a cameo in the comedy are The Blind Boys of Alabama, the legendary musical icons whose founding members began singing together in 1939 when they met at an Alabama school for the blind. These musical pioneers have been celebrated by the National Endowment for the Arts with lifetime achievement awards and inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The Boys record a song in Hop at 2UP Games for the upcoming fictional game "Extreme Blues Master.”

Meledandri explains how they came aboard the production: "The Blind Boys idea came from writer Brian Lynch. The idea that in the future ‘Rock Band' will spawn new music-based games like ‘Extreme Blues Master' is a wonderfully silly notion, and who better to be a key part of that than The Blind Boys!” In the scene, E.B. sneaks into their session and jams on the drums with them. Says Hill: "The Blind Boys are rooted in gospel and blues, which is very basic to American music. For the story, it helped that they couldn't see that E.B. was a rabbit and he was ‘filling in' while their drummer was on a break.”

Laughs Blind Boys drummer Eric Dwight McKinnie about being "replaced” by a rabbit: "I think that the young people are going to get a big kick out of seeing a rabbit play drums. If you can get a kick out of seeing a blind cat play drums, then I know you can see a rabbit play drums.”

Throughout the film, there are multiple scenes in which music takes center stage. These include Alex's Easter play, in which E.B. and Fred steal the show and get the crowd to sing along to "I Want Candy,” as well as E.B.'s audition for Hoff Knows Talent.

Having previously directed singing and dancing chipmunks, Hill found these scenes more familiar than most filmmakers would. "The music scenes with E.B. drumming were actually really fun to shoot,” he says. "The only trick was to imagine that, although you're only photographing an empty drum set, eventually there would be a CG bunny banging away on those drums.

"It's important because you have to figure out how close to get, what parts of the kit he's hitting and how the grammar of music videos translates in this case,” he concludes. "The drumming scenes were pretty similar to the Alvin musical scenes in that you aren't filming anything real; you're filming background plates, and the character is inserted later. Though there was one scene in Alvin, the ‘Witch Doctor' song, that was very challenging because of the choreography: I had chipmunks moving around all over the place. Here, a drum kit was stationary…”

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