How the ‘Zombies’ TV movie franchise drew inspiration from’ 90s hip-hop and the power of streaming
While it’s debatable among zombie experts how long the living dead can actually live, data from Billboard’s Kid Albums chart suggests they can stay for a very long time.
Zombies and Zombies 2, the soundtracks of Disney Channel’s latest original musicals, have spent 56 combined weeks on the roster as they devour the brains of children across the United States, with Zombies 10 weeks registration at n ° 1 and Zombies 2 peaking at No. 2. The soundtracks amassed 192.8 million on-demand audio streams and 277,000 equivalent album units, according to Nielsen Music / MRC Data. For 2018, Buena Vista / Disney’s Zombies the soundtrack ranked # 4 on Billboard’s best-selling children’s music list, one of Disney’s 13 entries. Razor & Tie Kidz Bop 37 at the top of the ranking, while Buena Vista Moana the soundtrack was # 2 and the company soundtrack coco the soundtrack was # 3.
Zombies —Which debuted in February 2018 – brings The walking dead in the world of Musical High School, telling the story of a star-filled, song-and-dance romance between a charismatic zombie and an aspiring high school cheerleader, 50 years after a zombie apocalypse. The sequel which premiered on February 14 added a bit of Twilight to the mix: teenage werewolves arrive at the local high school, threatening to disrupt the hard-earned acceptance and community at the end of the first film.
Mastodons like the Musical High School and Offspring Franchises have proven the long-standing expertise of Disney Channel and Disney Music Group (DMG) in capturing the attention of people aged 6 to 12. Develop and market ZombiesDisney also used the new data it collected to expand its reach on streaming providers like YouTube and the recently launched Spotify Kids.
While Steven Vincent, Disney Channel’s vice president of music and soundtracks, points out that every music franchise has its own voice, he has found that songs need to resonate with current trends. Hence the deliberate homage to Hamilton‘s “Cabinet Battle # 1” on Zombies 2‘s “I win.” Of course, the words should be age appropriate. When a breakup occurs, “It’s not a younger version of ‘Before he cheats.’ It’s ‘Wow, that hurts’, ”he said.
For Zombies, 90s hip-hop was a particular inspiration. “It was a lot of fun and it wasn’t too serious,” says Vincent. “If this had Will Smith as a zombie and Ariana Grande as [the cheerleader], what would it look like? He turned to a stable of writers he had relied on for years – including the Rock Mafia duo of Antonina Armato and Tim James (who worked with Selena Gomez and Eminem, among others), as well as Mitch Allan and Paula Winger – but he’s always recruiting new songwriters to keep the sound fresh.
Vincent brings in DMG executives early in the process, when the tracks are still in the demo stage, to start picking singles and developing a release strategy. Although no song has been released before Zombies – fans did not yet know about the franchise – for Zombies 2, the videos for “We Got This” and “New Kid in Town” started to generate excitement in the weeks leading up to the TV movie.
Once fans start streaming their favorites, new priority tracks emerge. For Zombies, that song was the duet ballad “Somebody,” which totaled 123.4 million US on-demand streams. For Zombies 2, the all-casting “Flesh & Bone” elicited the biggest response after the film’s release and totaled 20.3 million US on-demand streams, according to Nielsen Music / MRC Data. An audio and video mashup of the two songs was released on April 24. “You really don’t know what’s going to hit until the public gets ahold of it,” says Stacy Satz, DMG Marketing Director. “We are working with our streaming and download partners to get songs to playlists wherever we can. “
DMG uses all streaming services, but one main outlet is YouTube’s Disney Music Vevo channel, which has 18 million subscribers and has garnered more than 12 billion views since its launch in 2010, according to Satz. Disney Music Vevo views for Zombies content exceeded 500 million, while Zombies 2 exceeds 200 million, she said.
DMG also creates special playlists for Disney Music Vevo. “We reused the Zombies playlist for Zombies 2, changing the name to Zombies Complete so fans don’t have to sign up for anything else, ”says Satz.
A Disney Channel Hits playlist on Spotify also turned out to be very interesting with over 100,000 subscribers. With the launch of Spotify Kids in the US on March 31, Disney created playlists featuring Zombies Equipment. “We think this is a great path for us,” says Satz. At the end of March, as the coronavirus quarantines took effect, DMG hosted a Spotify virtual listening party with the Zombies 2 cast chat with fans and play the soundtrack.
Connected speakers have also been incorporated into the marketing plan. “For Alexa, one of the main statements after the Zombies 2 the first one was’ Play Zombies music, ”says Satz. Disney hadn’t tried to get the kids to ask for music on Alexa, but once it saw how many were doing it, Disney asked the actors to check in by saying “Hey, Alexa, play Zombies music ”and other phrases to place on their social networks as well as those of Disney.
The idea, Vincent says, is for music to be available in any way the kids consume music – when they’re in the car, in their bedroom watching YouTube, or in the family room watching TV. .
The Zombies The franchise has allowed the Disney Channel to expand its creative muscle, and the success of the films and soundtracks has been extremely gratifying, Vincent said. “We did stuff for Halloween, but doing something different with an edge and a wink was awesome,” he says. “Zombies weren’t going to eat anyone’s brain for real, but they still had to be super cool.” Hip-hop and rap could have done a lot of lifting. “