Welcome to COVERStories. A new Synchblog series created by the team at Coversion to look at the creative use of cover songs in film/tv/trailers/games/and ad placements. We’re taking an in-depth look at why the music supervisors behind a piece of media chose to use a cover song instead of the original, where their inspiration comes from and how these placements help the artist behind the cover. This is an anatomy of a sync, but with a twist.
First we start with Canadian Music Supervisor Dondrea Erauw from Instinct Entertainment – the Canadian music supervision company behind some major television shows, including: The Handmaid’s Tale, Degrassi, and the CW’s Beauty and the Beast. Dondrea has worked at Instinct since she graduated from the Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. She calls herself eccentric and undeniably influenced by the music that enters her ears.
Picture this (but if you’re not past season 2 of Beauty and the Beast then don’t because, SPOILERS!): two people, very much in love, have been struggling to get together because of a secret government organization that has been after them (what else?). Does your heart hurt for them? Mine does. But wait, it’s the final scene of the final episode of the season, and these two star crossed lovers are shown sitting together romantically on a park bench by the water. As they sit together, finally in peace and in love, a song plays in the background and in to the credits. You are happy for this couple and you feel fulfilled by the end of the season. Now picture that you are the person in charge of sourcing the right song for that scene. For that feeling. For that couple. For the audience that repeatedly tweets at you, professing love toward the music you choose and then buy soundtrack songs every week. What would you chose to score that sort of scene under that sort of fan pressure? Did Disclosure feat Sam Smith’s ‘Latch’ come to mind? The dance track with over 370 million streams on Spotify? Probably not. That’s what makes this choice so special – it’s unexpected and delivers the perfect amount of ‘hit you right in the feels’. This is Dondrea’s COVERStory.
Sourcing the perfect finale song is no easy feat. In her search, Dondrea took to Spotify and started to pull options together. Right away she knew she wanted to use a cover song – saying that “having something people recognised but weren’t overly familiar with would help amplify the emotion in the scene.”
“Right away she knew she wanted to use a cover song – saying that “having something people recognised but weren’t overly familiar with would help amplify the emotion in the scene.”
Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”, covered by Mr. Little Jeans, or M83s “Midnight City”, covered by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, (the original track was used in S1E1), were some early options, but neither felt right. In the final days before lock, during an unrelated conversation, All Media Music Group mentioned the idea of Jon Howard (touring guitarist for the band Paramore) and Natalie Taylor (music featured in MTV’s Finding Carter, and Scream, CBS’ Criminal Minds) doing a custom re-record. Unsure they’d meet the tight deadline for something bespoke, Dondrea decided to give it a go even though “there was no guarantee that it would get used”.
A few song titles were discussed but it wasn’t until “Latch” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith was mentioned that some real interest was shown, although Dondrea “couldn’t fully picture it done as a beautiful ballad – however, the lyrics themselves are absolutely beautiful”. So with a few notes in hand, and Dondrea still looking for backup ideas because “that’s just what supervisors do”, Natalie and Jon went in to the studio. The following day Dondrea says she “came into the office and saw the mixed demo in my inbox. I heard it and my jaw dropped. I instantly knew that it was the song. I sent it to the editor right away and had him edit to picture with the track (even though it wasn’t fully mixed). Jon and Natalie finished the track within a couple days and it ended up being the song, no questions asked. It was perfect!”
“I heard it and my jaw dropped. I instantly knew that it was the song. I sent it to the editor right away and had him edit to picture with the track.”
The final result can be found in the scene below – and we can agree that it works beautifully with the content. It builds at the perfect moment, Natalie’s voice is able to emulate the gentle yet powerful outcome of the characters relationship, the lyrics “now I’ve got you in my space, I won’t let go of you” speak to their situation almost exactly, and by the end of it, you’ll be all like, “awww, you guyyyys!”.
It can be rare where you find a team that instantly comes together and works together in near perfect harmony – but that was the case with this track. All Media Music Group were communicative and helpful, Jon and Natalie were a dream to work with – and through all that, Dondrea’s vision for this scene was brought to life. She has since worked with the duo (Jon and Nat) and has licensed additional songs from them for other projects.
As for the artists who covered the track, Jon and Natalie claim to be equally as thrilled to be even a small part of the season’s finale. You see, Nat is a self-proclaimed ‘Beastie’ (don’t think dirty things, people… this is what BATB fans are called!), and this placement has opened up new doors for the duo through the exposure to fans. The dedicated fanbase were quick to embrace this version of “Latch”, with Nat adding, ” It was such a great scene and I thought it was perfectly placed…in a non-biased way of course. Major props to Dondrea (she’s amazing!) for allowing us to be creative and from our end, Emma Rose at All Media Music Group, for making sure the process went smoothly”.
If you want to see Nat in studio doing vocals – you can check out this video of her performing the track below. 690K+ views, with many comments reading, “Beauty and the Beast brought me here!”. That is a good sign of a good sync, right there.
This piece was written by Emma & Janesta at Coversion, the sync-focused covers catalogue.