The Broadway-bound Sing Street may have to wait a bit before it can start previews on Broadway, but that doesn't mean audiences need to keep waiting to hear its New Wave-influenced cast album, out now from Sony Masterworks Broadway on Amazon, iTunes and Apple Music.
The Sing Street cast recording, available now, features a score from Carney and Gary Clark, who contributed songs to the original 2016 film. Adapted into a stage musical by Enda Walsh, the show features direction by Tony winner Rebecca Taichman and explores the power of first love and music against the backdrop of 1980s Dublin.
Reprising their Sing Street performances from the world premiere are Brenock O’Connor (Alex Rider) as Conor, Zara Devlin (Hecuba) as Raphina, Max Bartos (Uncut Gems) as Darren, Brendan C. Callahan (She Loves Me) as Gary, Billy Carter (Hangmen) as Robert, Jakeim Hart (Blue Bloods) as Larry, Gus Halper (Ride the Cyclone) as Brendan, Martin Moran (All The Rage) as Brother Baxter, Anne L. Nathan (Once) as Sandra, Johnny Newcomb (The Last Ship) as Barry, Gian Perez (In the Heights) as Kevin, Sam Poon (Runaways) as Eamon, Skyler Volpe (The Hello Girls) as Anne, Amy Warren (Women of a Certain Age) as Penny, Ilan Eskenazi (Iron Fist) as the understudy cover, and Anthony Genovesi as drumer.
Clark recently shared background and memories of the score, including the film's "lost" song that found a home in the show, what songs were initially meant to be sung by other characters, and more. Read his track-by-track breakdown below!
"I JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH"
Sing Street is an adaptation of a film written and directed by John Carney and set in Ireland in the early '80s. John and I wrote the original songs very much drawing from our memories and influences of the period. At that time the world seemed to stop every Thursday night at 7 PM, when the television music chart show Top of the Pops aired. Whole families, young and old, would gather around the TV to see and hear the latest hit songs of the day. Our show opens with the cast all in their own spaces watching their own TVs eagerly awaiting the start of the show. We hear the theme music and then a DJ introduces Depeche Mode’s “I Just Can’t Get Enough” to rapturous applause, while our cast then bangs into their own version with live synthesizers and '80s electro drums. It’s a great song and a great set-up for the premise and promise of our show. (It’s worth mentioning that we had a secret weapon in our music supervisor Peter Gordeno, who’s played live with Depeche Mode for over 20 years. He’s played this song more than once or twice in his career and kind of knows how it goes.
"THE RIDDLE OF THE MODEL"
Sing Street is the story of Connor, who forms a band called Sing Street to get the girl—Raphena—and to escape the drudgery of his life. “The Riddle of the Model” is Sing Street's attempt to be original, write their first very own song, and make it into a music video—with quite hilarious results. Writing this song with John Carney was probably the most fun day I’ve ever spent in a recording studio. Written very quickly and jammed around a guitar-riff left over from John’s actual school band, we laughed from beginning to end. We wanted to go back to those early days of songwriting and playing with other musicians for the first time, and were deliberately trying to make something naive. Quite accidentally and incredibly, I think we managed to make quite a good song.
One thing we wanted to establish for the show was the idea of Sing Street as a proper band, and to create a clear delineation between “band” songs and “cast” songs. Peter and I both have rock and pop backgrounds and drew from that, rehearsing the boys in a rock 'n' roll rehearsal space with no sheet music around, just as we would in a real-life situation. It paid dividends as these wonderful young musicians started to tighten and lock together, forming a real musical bond and tangible energy that carries us all through their story and the journey of the show.
I think of “Up” as a pivotal song here. In an abstract way It expresses a lot of the key ideas at the heart of the story. John Carney’s chords have an atmosphere to them, and we worked a lot of score and underscore around that. Lyrically it shows us how Connor’s love for Raphena and his ability to create music can lift him out of the mundane and high above the gray streets of his reality. On stage, as Connor (played by Brenock O’Connor) and the band play the song, Raphena is in her own world, listening on her Walkman cassette player, and she too is lifted to another world. Basically, it's astral projection set to music
"LOVE AND STARS"
A brand-new song written for the Broadway production. After Raphena reveals glimpses of her own troubled home-life to Connor, “Love and Stars” lets us see behind her tough facade into her vulnerability and fear of love and of being loved. Our brilliant director Rebecca Taichman and choreographer Sonya Tayeh imagined this as a very atmospheric soliloquy where, as stars fall around Raphena, she tries to pick them up and place them into her Walkman, turning the fallen stars into her own music. Zara Devlin, who plays Raphena, delivers the most honest and beautiful performance on this one.
"A BEAUTIFUL SEA"
A pivotal relationship in our story is the one between Connor and his older brother Brendan, played by Gus Halper, who, even as he’s battling his own demons, encourages his little brother to follow his musical dreams. He takes Connor on a guided tour of his record collection throughout the show, introducing him to the bands and the music that will inspire and influence Sing Street. From their early love of New Romantics like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet to their discovery of deeper and more sophisticated music, Connor and his musical gang wear their influences quite literally on their sleeves, attempting to sound and dress like their musical heroes. When Brendan introduces Connor to The Cure’s “In Between Days” they enter a new “Happy Sad” period, and their second video, “A Beautiful Sea,” closes Act 1 dripping in their new-found gothic psychedelia and dark joy.
"TO FIND YOU"
The brief for this song was simply “Connor’s love song to Raphena,” which gave me the freedom and opportunity to draw very much from my own experience and life, lyrically. Probably for that reason it’s very close to my heart and getting it right on stage was paramount. To add to that, John felt that it had been slightly undersold in the movie and saw the stage production as a real opportunity to showcase it and give it a new breath of life. We tried a number of ways to stage and arrange it but, the more we added, the less powerful it seemed to become. My own background is as a singer and songwriter, and drawing from that, I suggested that we simply open Act 2 with Connor alone at the piano writing and performing the song. I must add that we could never have pulled this off without Brenock O’Connor frankly just knocking the performance out of the park. I ran him through the piano part on a Friday, which he filmed on his phone and took home to practice on the weekend, and he came in on Monday and sat down and sang and played the thing through like a rockstar. It was a shivers-down-the-spine moment. I sent it over to bookwriter Enda Walsh, who was in London at the time, and he just loved the idea and the version.
"Girls" was originally a band song that came out of a family argument when the sister, Anne, played by Skyler Volpe, starts to bang the rhythm out on the study books on her lap. The more we watched it in rehearsal, the more it seemed incongruous that she would kick the song off like this and the vocal would be taken by Connor. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but I had a hunch that it would be stronger if Skyler began to sing, so I asked her to come along at the end of one of the band rehearsals and we tried putting the song into her key “just as an experiment.” I needn’t have worried because she sounded phenomenal and so powerful on it, and the scene and show benefited massively from the sister having a “voice.” We also gained one of those miraculous side effects where the bridge, which had been previously too low, was now in the perfect key for Brenock. A special shout out has to go to Sonya Tayeh on this one, too, whose choreography with the brothers and sister and a very fast-moving couch is pure magic-realist poetry, and the angular, spiky movements of the band and their instruments perfectly complement the New Wave edge of the song.
"DREAM FOR YOU"
Another brand-new song! Or not! Actually the first song written for the Sing Street movie and kind of an audition piece for me. When John Carney first approached me, he was sending briefs out to a number of songwriters. He sent me about five or six scenes, and one caught my eye, where Raphena was just about to give up on her dreams of becoming a model. I had the idea for a song where Connor would do the dreaming for both of them. John loved it and as a consequence brought me on to do the whole movie but, as is common in film, the scene changed and the song no longer had a home. The stage musical came to the rescue, though. We were able to reinstate it and it’s now a real high point in the show. Hurrah!
"DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT"
Our band’s third video and a massive Top of the Pops fantasy sequence, I always think of this as how the band imagines they sound in their own heads. Huge synthesizers, big '80s drums ,an epic electric guitar solo, and big, stadium-sized hand claps. The lyric is about taking control of your own life and living your dream, and the music is saying exactly the same thing loudly and proudly.
"UP (DOWN VERSION)"
An earlier version of this had more musicians and singers but we found, yet again, that the more we stripped it back, the more affecting it became. A real example of less is more, when the brothers sing harmony together by the piano for the first time in this low-key version of “Up,” it still sends shivers down my spine.
"FAITH OF OUR FATHERS"
A classic, and lyrically quite dark, old hymn that I remember from my Catholic childhood. In our show, as Brother Baxter is falling apart internally, he tries and fails to rally the boys into a rendition of the hymn together at school assembly. The boys have other ideas however, and overthrow the hymn, the assembly, and the school with a howl of guitar feedback and their next song.
The rebellion everyone wishes they could have led back at school, this song is all punk energy and a real bite-back at everything and everyone that Connor and his band have been up against throughout the story. “The boot’s on the other foot now, buckle up we’re taking you down...” they scream at their oppressors over thundering drums and distorted guitars. In an earlier scene, Connor has confronted the skinhead bully Barry, and in the bridge of this song he hands him the microphone as a peace offering. Barry takes it with both hands and leads the boys to the end of the song in a last rousing chorus, chasing a beaten Brother Baxter screaming from the building.
"TO FIND YOU"
As far as Conner is aware, Raphena has left to go to London with her boyfriend, but unbeknownst to him she couldn’t pull herself away, got off of the ferry and comes back to him, singing the love song that he wrote for her.
This is the one original song that I had no hand in writing and I adore it! Added after the film was completed, it was written by John Carney, Glen Hansard, and Maroon Five’s Adam Levine. As Connor and Raphena are heading off in a small boat into the Irish Sea and their future together, Brendan hands him some crumpled paper. “Lyrics maybe... It’s about a boy and a girl...” On stage, Brendan sings the song, alone at first, and then accompanied by the cast in a very powerful and moving finale.