How Robyn, Ariana Grande, No Doubt Shape “Teen Spirit” Soundtrack

"Like many of us growing up, music and our bedrooms were an escape..."

Driven by current and classic pop bops mostly performed by fierce women, the Teen Spirit soundtrack is basically the playlist of every gay’s party on Fire Island or on their Pride float.

With Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande blaring throughout the movie, which follows Elle Fanning (Violet) trying to find her way out of her small European town by entering an international singing competition, you’ll be rooting for Violet, but also twerking in your seat.

Over the last few years, movie soundtracks have been absolutely slaying. “The reports of the soundtrack’s death has been greatly exaggerated,” the film’s music supervisor Steven Gizicki tells NewNowNext. Soundtracks are no longer just a relic from the ’80s and ’90s, but with the success of The Greatest Showman and Hamilton, for example, soundtracks are making a comeback.

We spoke with the openly gay music supervisor, whose other credits include La La Land and the new Fosse/Verdon, about how the pop hits in the movie were selected and the status of the movie soundtrack.

What was the most important consideration in selecting the songs for the movie?

There were a few different considerations. The songs Elle sings are all by powerful female artists. From Annie Lennox to No Doubt and Robyn, we wanted songs to be an escape for Violet who is quite shy. Violet is also Polish and the film is set in Europe, so we wanted the music to have that European sensibility to it, so that’s why we landed on artists like Robyn and Annie Lennox instead of, say, Madonna and Christina Aguilera, which we considered.

One of my favorite musical moments, and now the song that I’ve been replaying since seeing the movie, is No Doubt’s “Just a Girl.” Tell us about that scene.

While that scene doesn’t fall in line with the European sensibility we were going for, it was originally part of another scene where Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” plays, but we felt like Violet is a shy girl, in a religious household, and singing is her escape. Like many of us growing up, music and our bedrooms were an escape where we can let loose and be whoever we want to be, so that’s what the moment is for Violet.

But I thought the movie soundtrack was dead.

The reports of the soundtrack’s death has been greatly exaggerated. The best soundtracks are souvenirs from the movie. If you want to remember the movie, you picked up the soundtrack. And when you listened to the songs, you could vividly remember the moment it played in the movie. In the ’90s and 2000s, soundtracks stopped being souvenirs and they fell out of favor. But if you look at the success of soundtracks to musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton and The Greatest Showman, you see there’s an appetite for them again.

Teen Spirit is now playing.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.