"I was eating with my husband at a Japanese restaurant, and I said, 'Oh, let me get this because it's an (818) call," Lippa explained. "Jokingly, I said, 'Oh, it's Hollywood calling,' not expecting it was literally Hollywood calling."
Kenny Ortega was on the other end of the phone, and he was calling to ask Lippa to craft a song for Kristin Chenoweth for the new Disney film "Descendants," in which Chenoweth plays the evil Maleficent. Ortega directed.
"They pitched me the idea right there on the phone, and at the end I said, 'Yeah, guys, I'm in. Let's do it.' … Eventually, they sent me a script; I read the script and saw what the song was about and what they wanted. That Saturday happened to be the day that Kristin was doing her Carnegie Hall concert last year, and I was one of her guests in the concert. She and I did 'My New Philosophy' [from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown] together, and I had written the first part of the song. I recorded it and typed it up, and then I took it to Kristin's dressing room and said, 'Listen to this,' and she flipped for it."
Kristin Chenoweth Looks Positively Wicked in First Pics as Maleficent in Disney's "Descendants"
The film focuses on the children (or descendants) of iconic villains such as Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, Jafar and the Evil Queen. Chenoweth's song, called "Evil Like Me," takes place during a scene where she warns her daughter about inheriting her own evil throne.
"Andrew Lippa knows my voice and style so well," said Chenoweth, "and Disney was amazing enough to hire him to write for me. We have a special connection that no one can take from us. It seemed like a no-brainer that we had to have him write my song. How lucky can I get?" The song has reached over eight million viewers on TV and three million viewers on YouTube, and the film's soundtrack debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
"Just to put that into perspective, the first night the ratings were eight million people… It takes 16 years to fill a Broadway house with eight million people. 16 years," said Lippa. "It's just incredibly powerful how many people will see it, and it hasn't even been released internationally. I've never been part of something this big, and it just keeps getting bigger. I think there's going to be a sequel announced soon, and I hope they asked me to be involved with that as well."
Its reach is so far that "Evil Like Me" is hitting elevators around the world. "My friend Michael Croiter, who was the engineer on recording sessions in New York, texted me two days after the movie premiered and said, 'Okay, get this… I was on an elevator at my hotel in Los Angeles, and a family of six was on the elevator with me singing 'Evil Like Me' two days after the movie came out.' And I said, 'Are you serious?' And he said, 'Yes, they were singing the chorus.'"
On Chenoweth's current tour, the hope is that "she'll be doing the song on the symphony orchestra tour," said Lippa. "I love that it's with Kristin. We just do what we do; we're doing our thing. We're making a song that's for a particular spot in a film, and it's my first song in a film, so it's a good beginning!"
Watch it below!