The part-documentary/part-drama “The Social Dilemma” deals in part with the spell that Silicon Valley tech companies have cast over a willingly mesmerized populace, and so Nina Simone’s version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ classic “I Put a Spell on You” was brought in as a musical accent mark for the film. For the soundtrack album, producers thought that maybe a new and lyrically updated version of the tune could be hypnotic in its own right.
That led to recruiting the surprising team of Brandi Carlile, the singer/songwriter who has come to be a recent Grammy queen, and Renée Elise Goldsberry, the singer and actor best known for her Tony-winning performances as the fiery Angelica Schuyler. They recorded a new version of “I Put a Spell on You,” not heard in the recently released film but debuting on the album that comes out Friday. Variety is hosting the exclusive track premiere in advance of its official bow on digital service providers. (Click below to listen via Soundcloud.)
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Carlile handles the more familiar part of the bluesy Hawkins/Simone perennial, while Goldsberry eventually enters with a newly written, more provocative and topical verse that almost steers the classic toward a hip-hop feel with its spit-fire rhymes about a tech realm gone wrong.
”I loved ‘The Social Dilemma’ and was thrilled they asked me to sing this song,” Carlile says, “especially with the incomparable Renée Elise Goldsberry. I hope this soundtrack continues to bring attention to the film, which I think is so important.”
Says Goldsberry, “‘The Social Dilemma’ confirmed some of my greatest fears about social media, and added a few. I jumped at the chance to collaborate with the great Brandi Carlile and Mark Crawford to amplify the film’s haunting message. Now that we know the truth, will we insist on reform? Or remain spellbound, bought and sold?”
Crawford composed the film’s score as well as working on this track, and says of the new recording, “The arrangement pays homage to past covers of the classic song, and infuses it with electronic and acoustic elements mined from the film’s score.”
In composing the music for the film, which Netflix says was viewed in 38 million homes in its first month on the service, Crawford wanted to come up with music “that takes listeners down a spiraling path of a gradual synthesizer takeover. Illuminated through a blend of classical orchestral film score elements and vintage synthesizers, I created a dilemma in musical form, pitting humanity and technology against one another, mirroring the film’s narrative arc.”
In a behind-the-scenes video, premiering below, Crawford further discusses how his “Social Dilemma” score begins with traditional orchestral instruments that subtly and gradually transform into something less organic over the course of the film.
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