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Rogers & Hammerstein. Webber & Rice. Shaiman & Wittman. Those are just a few of the legendary songwriting duos that have already been admitted to the unofficial musical theater Hall of Fame. Now, there’s a new team knocking on the door: Schlesinger & Bloom. No, that’s not the name of an accounting firm: it’s the power duo behind the toe-tapping tunes that appear week-to-week on The CW’s incredibly ambitious, always hysterical musical comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Bloom, of course, is Rachel Bloom, the show’s co-creator, lyricist, and star. And Schlesinger is series composer Adam Schlesinger, the Grammy-winning songwriter and Fountains of Wayne bassist. As they told Yahoo TV, the two had never met prior to being paired up for the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend gig. “We were thrown into this thing, and right away had to start collaborating on songs. Which is a real hit or miss thing — you either have a chemistry together with somebody or you don’t. Luckily, we all have similar senses of humor and similar points of references,” Schlesinger says.
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Schlesinger & Bloom also share a similar affection for the jaunty musical stylings of ‘20s and ‘30s hitmaker Cole Porter, who provides the inspiration for one of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s standout Season 1 musical numbers, “Settle For Me.” (It’s one of four songs they’ve submitted for Emmy consideration in the Original Music & Lyrics category.) Filmed in era-appropriate black-and-white, the sequence partners Bloom’s titular crazy ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch — although her real issues are a lot more nuanced than that — with Santino Fontana’s ambition-challenged bartender Greg for an Astaire & Rogers-inspired dance where the glamorous visuals are repeatedly undercut by Greg’s self-loathing lyrics.
That’s the stark contrast that Bloom specifically set out to spotlight. “This song encapsulates everything I wanted to do with this show as a musical theater geek,” the Golden Globe-winning actress explains. “The contrast of idealized love with what dating and relationships actually are, which is sometimes being pathetic to get laid.” The song also establishes the ever-shifting power dynamic between Rebecca and Greg that plays out over the course of the first season. “In ‘Settle For Me,’ even though Greg is the dashing one, Rebecca has all the power,” Bloom says. “Later on, she starts to get attached to him and then Greg has this newfound power surge. He’s on a leash by his d–k when it comes to Rebecca.”
Schlesinger remembers being sold on the concept for “Settle For Me” as soon as he heard the title. “We agree on 95% of the songs, [although] there’s been a few cases of push and pull. The first step is always just coming up with the concept, and when Rachel came to me with the idea for this song, I thought she nailed it right away,” he says. “Especially for the Cole Porter songwriting style, it’s all about the title.”
Bloom’s original temp melody was more in the Big Band spirit, so her musical partner (who previously penned the infectious, Oscar-nominated title track for Tom Hanks’s underrated ‘60s rock musical That Thing You Do!) gave it a makeover to add some of Porter’s patented bounciness. “I liked taking the Cole Porter style and exploring it with an alt-comedy look,” says Bloom, who confesses that she listened exclusively to “old-timey” showtunes until the ripe old age of 20. “It’s the kind of song I’ve been listening to my whole life. I’m not a cool person! Adam is infinitely cooler. He wears sunglasses inside, and he’s always tripping.”
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