FEATURE: The Motion Picture for the Soundtrack… After Hey There Delilah: Which Musical Time Periods/Events Do We Need to See on the Screen?




The Motion Picture for the Soundtrack…



After Hey There Delilah: Which Musical Time Periods/Events Do We Need to See on the Screen?


ANOTHER shock that came this week…


IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

was when I was presented with the news Hey There Delilah is being made into a T.V. show. Its title has inspired producers to bring the spirit of that song to the screen. Not only is the Plain White T’s song over ten years old (it is from the 2006 album, Every Second Counts) but it is bloody awful! I know people like it but I can barely get to the chorus before I am vomiting and weeping like a drunken baby! The band are very pleased and, if you are in need of refreshment regarding the song and why it is popular (beats me!); here is a bit of a rundown:

The Plain White T's No. 1 hit "Hey There Delilah" is being adapted into a scripted TV series.

The Grammy- and Tony-nominated band is teaming with Lively McCabe Entertainment and Primary Wave to develop a scripted romantic dramedy based on its chart-topping single about a long-distance relationship. Producers, including the band's frontman and songwriter Tom Higgenson as well as writer Jeremy Desmon, will be in L.A. pitching the potential series — described as a contemporary fairy tale that expands the story within the song —  to multiple networks and studios this month.

The song, released in 2006, tells the tale of a long-distance flirtation between a struggling singer-songwriter and a New York City university student. The songwriter pledges to write a song for the young woman on the night they meet and that promise changes their lives in unexpected ways.

"It’s been more than a decade since 'Hey There Delila' was released, and people always ask me about it. A whole lot of people really connected with that song, and I’m very proud of that," Higgenson said. "I’m so excited to have an opportunity to give a new generation the chance to form their own connection with the song, and fall in love with its story through this new project.”

Higgenson came up with the concept for the TV foray alongside Desmon (Pump Up the Volume) and Lively McCabe's Michael Barra. Desmon will pen the script. Primary Wave's Deb Klein is attached to produce.

The news has been met with a mixture of speculation – what is the show/film going to entail? – and reaction. I understand why the song’s lyrics and title have inspired creative outburst. It is a nice title and the lyrics are quite romantic and touching. I am expecting some coming-of-age: a strange mixture of Dawson’s Creek (remember that?!) and Girls (the Lena Dunham series). Many are snubbing the choice of song and, in the case of this piece and this article; journalists are pitching their ideas and variations. We do not often see songs/albums making their way onto the screen. As two music legends, Kate Bush and Madonna, are sixty this year; maybe a Material Girl or Hounds of Love show could come? The former could be a commentary on materialism and shallowness; set in New York during the 1980s but have a great soundtrack underpinning it – plenty of Madonna in there for good measure.



The other could be a modern love drama that looks at affairs and different scenarios from across time and place – a love story set during Hip-Hop’s birth or a modern-day tale set in a rural location! If you started to think about it carefully; you’d be there for hours pitching all sorts of ideas and scenarios. Maybe it is good for the brain and mindset but you’d be endlessly trying to sell half-formed shows and what-ifs. There have been some good suggestions, mind. Seven Days (Craig David), The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy); Dangerous Woman (Ariana Grande), Where the Wild Roses Grow (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds ft. Kylie Minogue) and Ain’t Your Mama (Jennifer Lopez) have been mooted by the press. I think it is good there are people going to work and thinking about what we can do with music. Aside from the odd biopic or drama (that looks at a period of music...); how often does music come to life on the screen?! I dread to think what the Hey There Delilah show will consist – let’s hope the song isn’t played much! – but it will get other networks and creatives looking at music and producing superior ideas. I have mentioned a couple of idols whose songs could inspire T.V. shows or films. We have not seen a modern-day recount of the birth of Hip-Hop. I think there was a U.S. T.V. show set during that time but I am not sure whether it gained a critical ear.

The short-lived Vinyl (in the U.S.) looked at known artists and the scene in the 1970s – a record label/executive navigating the hedonism of the time and changing tastes. Its setting and soundtrack landed but, for various reasons, it did not catch on and get a good reaction. I think networks and producers fear making similar mistakes: music is always changing and provides endless scope for great shows and ideas. British T.V. and film have not been awash with modern looks at the music industry. We have produced some great documentaries – including the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy – but that is about it. A suggestion from this article looked at Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and offered a synopsis:

A working-class Jersey boy in the 1970s looks for love, a fast car, and a way out of the dead-end life he’s facing as all his friends fall into lives of crime, shotgun marriages, and more”.

That sounds like the best idea from a growing and often-silly bunch. I wonder, rather than just the song, taking it further and writing a T.V. series that looks at every song on that album. Almost like a made-for-film/T.V. musical; each song would soundtrack a part of the narrative and bring a classic album to life. Rather than bringing single songs to life through T.V. drama/comedy; there are albums and set periods from music that have been untapped and left idle.

My personal dream would be to turn classic albums into a series. You know, the album series where they dissect record and talk to the authors – we saw them on VH1 years ago! – and how we all love them? Graceland was one such album that got a great treatment and was dissected. It might be a six-show series but you could take, say The Beatles’ debut album and look at the rise in popularity of a great band that would soon conquer the world. Maybe looking at Joni Mitchell’s Blue and all the events that surrounded the recording. You could bring in fact and fantasy; entwining the music alongside the action. The first thing that leapt to mind, when hearing about Hey There Delilah, was Rumours! I love the Disco era and birth of Hip-Hop; The Beatles coming through and the music of the 1990s. All of those, in some way, have been brought to life on T.V. or film. 2013’s Rumours (a 1977 documentary following the band on the last leg of the Rumours tour) gained some good reviews but did not resonate with everyone. 2009’s Don’t Stop, again, followed the band but was a look back at their formation (1967) to the present day (2009). Both gave a good impression of the band and great times in their career. I feel the Rumours-period time has not been given adequate time and focus.


IN THIS PHOTO: Lena Dunham (a perfect leader for a Fleetwood Mac project)/PHOTO CREDIT: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

I think you could either approach that album as a biopic (actors playing the band members) or something based on the title/songs. The former sounds more appealing to me. We all know about the turmoil, disruption and affairs that blighted the album’s progress but, God knows how, led to some of the best music ever made! Massive drug abuse, fights and isolation should have halted all musical progression and broke up the band. The fact Fleetwood Mac, minus Lindsey Buckingham, are still playing and touring is nothing short of staggering. One can chart that longevity back to 1977’s masterpiece and the fact that they did not break up – if they can go through all of that and still want to be a band then nothing can fell them! I would love a drama/drama-comedy that looks at the Fleetwood Mac’s eponymous album of 1975 and the period that followed. We could chart the band going from fairly secure to being on the brink of chaos! We would hold the action after Rumours and the tour that followed. You have the affairs and arguments; the excess, studio disputes and, above all, the fantastic music. I have mentioned Lena Dunham before but feel she would be perfect to helm the project – maybe taking a minor acting role in it?! Maybe you could call it Rumours or take a song to draw inspiration from – Dreams and The Chain seem likely candidates.


IN THIS PHOTO: Fleetwood Mac in 1977/PHOTO CREDIT: Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

You would get a close-hand look at the affairs that inspired songs like You Make Loving Fun and the cruelty of Go Your Own Way; the Stevie Nicks beauty of Dreams and the speculation of Oh Daddy (either Christine McVie looking at Mick Fleetwood as the only father during that time; others say it is about an affair McVie was having with a lighting director at the time)…there is no shortage of angles and great scenes! Each band member has a type-A personality and you could make a great film/T.V. show without scandalising or romanticising. You would not need to have that tabloid-eye view of the album: a balance between the personal conflicts and the brilliant music that was coming through. I would love to see who they would cast as Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood (Amber Heard, Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie as Nicks?!) and whether they would sing the songs or lip-sync. I am compelled by Rumours because of the way the songs were recorded – Buckingham having a go at Nicks and vice versa; stress and squabbles among the brilliant revelations – and what was happening away from the studio (cocaine binges and all sorts of excess!). The soundtrack would be perfect and you could end with The Chain: the realisation they are a unit and a great closing scene that sees the band unified against the chaos. It would not be an expensive or complicated film/T.V. drama – the band’s permission is the biggest hurdle...


IN THIS PHOTO: Margot Robbie (a possible Stevie Nicks?!)/PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Demarchelier for Vanity Fair 

The other Fleetwood Mac possibility would use the legendary album as a backdrop to a 1970s-set drama that would unite two aspiring musicians and their struggle to be together. One could see a Nicks and Buckingham dynamic and the ecstasy of their good days and how it gets splintered by outside forces and differing dreams. Even now, you can imagine a Nicks character standing alone and looking for answers; a look at a young woman searching for clarity and direction. Maybe it would be set in New York or London – split between the two cities, maybe? You have flawless music and an ever-fascinating period of music to back the project. In 1977, we saw the Sex Pistols’ only studio album come; Television’s Marquee Moon and the Ramones’ Rocket to Russia – David Bowie’s Low and Talking Heads: 77 to add to the riches. In the same year, we had the New York blackout and Star Wars opened in cinemas. Elvis Presley and Marc Bolan died; Roman Polanski was arrested and Jimmy Carter was appointed as the President of the United States. There was plenty of turmoil, eventfulness and drama that ran alongside the world-class music – 1977 remains one of the strongest-ever musical years. It would be a wet-dream for any producer or actor to get involved with, you'd hope. Maybe someone will heed this call but I feel this would be perfect: either a Rumours-set drama that brings together the events and music of the time or a biopic of Fleetwood Mac putting the record together.


There are perfect actors/writers, like Dunham, who could do a great job making the magic happen. I feel there will be a slew of music-related shows and films that follow from Here There Delilah. Maybe I am being a bit harsh and myopic regarding the idea and what its potential is. Although the song is pretty shite; there is nothing to suggest the show itself will be a failure. Americans are, sad to say, ahead of us (Britain) when it comes to drama and comedy. They have Netflix and great series like Sneaky Pete (with Giovanni Ribisi) and comedies such as Black-ish and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Do not count out the talent-pool there and the finance that will come about. I will keep an eye for progress but I have been thinking about extending that spark out and creating a fire. I hope, if not me, someone takes on my idea and we get some great music-themed shows – whether it is a biopic of Madonna and her legacy or a comedy-drama set during Grunge’s regency. Music and film go together in the form of soundtracks but rarely do they have that passionate and explicit relationship. I have not seen a good music-themed drama or film for a long time. You have a huge vinyl crate of material and inspiration to build from; endless possibilities and chances to light up the screen! Maybe Hey There Delilah will be a smash and long-running show but, for me personally, I would love to see a Rumours-themed film arrive. You’d have to ask the question: How could such a glorious time of music ever…

LEAD to failure and disappointment?!