Monday, June 24, 2024

‘Girls’ Co-Stars Say Some Cringey Songs Were Kelly Clarkson ‘Discards’

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Way back before his shelves were crammed with Grammy Awards for his work with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and St. Vincent, Jack Antonoff was best known as that guy from fun., or maybe the one who sang in Steel Train.


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But in a new video for Vanity Fair in which former Girls co-stars Allison Williams (M3GAN) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (The Bear) reunite after seven years to revisit the show that helped launch both of them to stardom, the pair also reveal that some of the mega-cringey songs they crooned together as their characters, Marnie and Desi, were actually written by Antonoff.

And, they noted, the Bleachers singer — who dated the show’s star and creator, Lena Dunham, during the five-year run of the HBO series — originally wrote some of them for a major pop star who rejected the tracks. The volatile on-screen couple often played music together onscreen as they struggled through a tumultuous courtship and brief marriage, with Moss-Bachrach telling VF that he just recently learned that most of their duets were “just discards from Kelly Clarkson.”

“I like that song,” Moss-Bacharach said of “Breathless,” — which Antonoff reportedly wrote for Clarkson, according to Williams. “It’s a great song, she should’ve done it! But we got it, as a result,” Williams added of the track she performed in the first episode of season four that featured the so-Marnie lyrics, “I don’t wanna dream if dreamin’ is without you/ I don’t wanna run unless I’m runnin’ towards you, every single thing I do is all about you.”

Regardless of whether you kind of disliked Marnie or actively despised her, Williams said she actually thought a lot of the couple’s songs “were really beautiful,” though she copped to the fact that “the lyrics are what made them cringey.” She liked so many of them, but her favorite was “Oaxaca,” the final Marnie-Desi song, which, she again notes, has lyrics that are “so cringey” she hardly wanted to repeat them out loud. Moss-Bachrach, however, insisted that she do so. For example: “Shakin’ my maracas, doin’ what you do/ Yeah, you’ll find me in a dark bar/ Where no gringos are.”

“Marnie singing the word ‘gringo’ should be illegal. I shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Williams laughed, noting that the actors were often were really performing on screen, which was so “nerve-wracking.”

“What was nice that was built in, was that they were supposed to be maybe not so great,” Moss-Bachrach said of the creative release valve that allowed them to lean into the cringe of lyrics he described as often “guileless” and “embarrassing” at best. “Nobody had very high expectations, so that felt very safe to me just go for it.” Williams said that twist made it hard to know how good they should actually try to be, with Moss-Bachrach claiming that he “tried as hard as I could try.”

To put a finer point on it, Moss-Bachrach said the lyrics were often so bad, “Leonard Cohen could sing them and they would still suck.” At press time it did not appear as if Antonoff had responded to the video.

Speaking of mortifying, Williams brought up the absolute peak Marnie moment when her character sang a cover of Kanye West’s “Stronger” as a torch ballad at a party to the stunned mortification of the entire room, including her friends. “It was quiet, except for my voice,” she said of the ninth episode from season two. “There’s no more vulnerable experience than a room full of background, silent and just your little voice in the room echoing against nothing else, singing, ‘I’ll be your white Kate Moss tonight,’” Williams said.

Watch Williams and Moss-Bachrach break down their Girls musical chemistry below (music talk begins at 1:20 mark).

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