Team StarKid released their latest musical Twisted on November 28, and in addition to a traditional original cast recording, the group have created Twisted: Twisted, an album of pop-style covers and demos of songs from the show.
Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier is the latest offering from Team StarKid – a parody musical based on Disney’s Aladdin, with a Wicked-esque twist, portraying Jafar as the show’s sympathetic protagonist. Twisted was performed live in July and released onto YouTube on Thanksgiving, and alongside their usual Broadway-style original cast recording of the show’s music, StarKid have celebrated the release of Twisted with something a little bit different.
Twisted: Twisted is an alternate album for the show, featuring four of the musical’s major songs re-imagined as pop hits in various styles. According to Team StarKid, the initial idea of creating Twisted: Twisted was inspired by Disney’s own traditions:
Lyricist Kaley McMahon had the idea to record an R&B cover of the show’s main romantic ballad, “A Thousand and One Nights,” as an homage to the Disney tradition of releasing radio-ready pop versions of animated films’ love ballads. Says McMahon, “Those wonderfully over-indulgent pop versions that play during the credits are such a hilarious and iconic staple of the Disney Renaissance films, no parody could be complete without one.”
McMahon and the show’s composer A.J. Holmes brought the idea to orchestrator Andrew Fox, who produced the traditional-style Twisted recording, and he proposed the idea of creating an album of alternate-genre covers. Together, the team redeveloped four songs from the show and recorded the tracks with a variety of artists to suit the new styles.
StarKid alum Britney Coleman, a veteran of all three Very Potter shows, takes the lead female vocal on two tracks: the duet “Take Off Your Clothes,” with the mysterious “Tae-Bo Dyson” as her counterpart (a very punny pseudonym for someone who, we’re told, can’t be openly affiliated to the material – start guessing! No, not Darren Criss.) and the aforementioned “A Thousand and One Nights,” with Carlos Valdes, who, along with co-composing StarKid’s Me and My Dick, the first student-produced college musical to ever debut on Billboard, is currently starring alongside Arthur Darvill in Once on Broadway.
Both of these duets have become – just as McMahon originally imagined – synthetic, easy-listening ’90s-style pop crooners, reminiscent of Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson’s “Beauty and the Beast” cover, or Richard Marx and Donna Lewis’s chart-topping “At The Beginning.” (Yes, yes, we know, Anastasia is Fox, not Disney.) Utilizing another classic style, “The Golden Rule,” one of Twisted’s big group numbers, turns from conversational patter song to an a capella lounge jazz classic, thanks to the talents of Cluster, an Italian jazz vocal group with three albums and a stint on Italy’s X Factor under their belt.
However, we can safely say that one thing we never heard over the end credits of a Disney Renaissance film was pop punk. The Twisted team, along with musical theater star Andrea Ross, turn the princess’s lament “Everything and More” from wistful to kick-ass in a driven alt-rock version. The take-no-prisoners tune sticks with the ’90s theme, more reminiscent of Letters to Cleo than Paramore or Avril, and it convinces us that there’s definitely room in the market for an pop-punk cover album. Hey Fearless Records – forget Punk Goes Pop Volume 85 or whatever it is you’re working on – give us Punk Goes Disney!
Twisted: Twisted‘s track list is rounded out to eight songs with the inclusion of four of the show’s never-before-seen demos, featuring Twisted’s composer A.J. Holmes on vocals and piano. Holmes – a veteran composer and actor for Team StarKid who is currently starring as Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon National Tour – has several off-Broadway tours on his CV, including the Arizona Theatre Company’s run of Next To Normal, in which he played Henry to Andrea Ross’s Natalie. Holmes and Ross reunite as co-stars on this album, as Ross is featured not only as the pop-punk Princess, but – in more traditional Broadway style – on Holmes’s demo tapes as well.
Twisted: Twisted is available now on iTunes, and the combination of studio-recorded covers and behind-the-scenes materiel make it a must-have for any StarKid obsessive!