‘Unfrosted’ Composer on Going ‘A Little Bit Extra’ for Jerry Seinfeld’s Pop-Tart Movie and Scoring Amy Schumer’s ‘Dark’ Villain Theme

When composing the score for Netflix’s “Unfrosted,” Christophe Beck had a simple request from the film’s writer, director and star Jerry Seinfeld: “For everything to be just a little bit extra,” says Beck.

Set in the 1960s, “Unfrosted” is the Pop-Tarts origin story. Seinfeld plays the Kellogg’s employee who helps the company beat its rival, Post, in the breakfast pastry race. Beck used music to emphasize the optimism of American innovation. “I found it effective to inhabit a particular character in a scene, imagine what they were feeling in that moment, and then exaggerate it to a pretty extreme effect,” he says.

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Such an example can be heard early on, as Bob Cabana (Seinfeld) is in a diner in the present day, recalling the past and how the Pop-Tart came to be. “That music is very period, jolly and optimistic because we’re setting up the ‘60s as this great American era. The idea was for music to set up that hopefulness,” says Beck.

He went through trial and error to find the right optimistic tone, swapping notes with Seinfeld along the way. “We tried to make [the theme] jazzier, we tried the traditional orchestral route, until we found something that was bouncy, jolly and jazzy,” explains Beck.  Once they had settled on the theme, Beck used that as a recurring motif. He says, “I used all of my tools as a composer to take the melody that’s presented in that first theme, and presented it in different ways so we could get that throughline.”

In one scene, where Edsel Kellogg (Jim Gaffigan) and Bob face up to the reality that Kellogg’s might lose the breakfast pastry race, Beck says he used the main theme as his basis, but at half tempo with a minor orchestration, and at a minor key. “That tune is still recognizably the same tune that we hear right at the beginning, but it gives the score that cohesion.”

When scoring cues for Post, Beck says he had to musically convey that the rival cereal company was the bad guy in this story — in particular, Amy Schumer’s Marjorie Post.

“Marjorie is in some ways Darth Vader,” Beck says. “Of course, we don’t treat her, musically, exactly like you would Darth Vader in ‘Star Wars’ because we have that period aspect [to the film], and this idea that we never wanted to go too far in the direction of darkness.”

But, he continues, “If you watch the movie, any scene that she’s in, the music does take a little bit of a dark turn. We hear the occasional saxophone and muted trumpet with the jazzy chord that makes things lighter. Underneath it all, there is a serious approach to scoring Marjorie Post and the company as the villain of the story.”

Listen to the “Unfrosted” theme below.

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