Movie fans are more than familiar with the struggles of Warner Bros.’ DC Films over the last few years, especially as Marvel continues to chug along with blockbuster after blockbuster. But with new leadership and a revamped slate of upcoming films, there’s finally reason to hope that quality change is on the horizon and that begins with this weekend’s Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.
Having never seen an episode of the Teen Titans Go! TV series that led to the film, I didn’t quite know what to expect from this colorful kids movie. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the flick proved to be a Deadpool-lite thought experiment that gleefully skewered superhero tropes, including the rivalry between Marvel and DC, with self-aware meta humor that felt very much like a cathartic release for all of DC Films’ previous missteps. What immediately stood out was how important of a role the always catchy and often hilarious music of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies played.
We got to speak with Jared Faber, composer, music producer and songwriter for the film, to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at all that went into the Teen Titans Go! To The Movies‘ musical fun, including why Michael Bolton and Lil Yachty lent their vocals to the cause.
Were you a fan of the Teen Titans show or superhero content in general?
I only became familiar with Titans in particular when I got brought on to the first season of Teen Titans Go!. But, of course, I like superheroes.
Having not seen the show, I did not expect the movie to be so musically inclined. Hilarious theme songs, power ballads, parodies. Where did that all come from?
The show is very comedic and I’ve done those songs from the beginning. Initially the songs… they didn’t know it would be as big of a part of the show as it became. Now, it’s a very fun and funny part of the show. So when we started to work on the movie, the songs were one of the first elements we started. The script had already blocked out spaces for them.
Helping to tell the story through music can be challenging, but the songs are a blast.
Tell me about serving as both composer and songwriter, which I understand is rare in the business.
I’ve done a lot of that in my career, though it is less common. I’ve spent most of my career as a score composer who just so happens to love writing songs. Because [co-director] Pete [Michail] knew me as a songwriter, he invited me in to begin working on songs originally, and when it came time for the score, I really pushed to do that as well. They gave me the songs because they knew me as the songwriter for the show. But the score required me to prove myself, and it was a really great opportunity to do both.
I love the rap theme song of the Titans, I love that we got to do a song with Michael Bolton in a kind of throwback ’80s style.
Speaking of that, how did you recruit Michael Bolton and Lil Yachty for an animated kids superhero movie?
Michael Bolton was interesting—the song we had been kicking around for awhile, and we assumed this ancillary unexplained character would sing it to raise the mood of Robin, who is down in the dumps at this point in the movie. We had a buddy of mine, co-writer, who stood in as a demo singer, but as we got closer to finishing the film, we all were saying, “We need a singer and it would be great if we had someone who had hits in the ’80s.”
I don’t know how it exactly came to pass, but one day I get a call and apparently we’re getting Michael Bolton in on this date, and we have to get it ready by then. It was great.
Lil Yachty is credited with one of the versions of the Titans’ rap theme song. He plays Green Lantern in the movie and was just open to recording some music for it. It was amazing and fun to hear. The first time I heard it, I just had a big smile on my face.
If you weren’t a composer and songwriter, what would you be doing?
Lifeguard at Club Med, if it still exists. Or I’d tend bar in some tropical paradise. Go somewhere the drinks have umbrellas in them.