In the weeks since its premiere, “Wednesday” — from co-creators Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and executive producer Tim Burton — has become Netflix’s third most popular English-language series.
Titular star Jenna Ortega’s self-choreographed dance sequence to the Cramps’ 1981 single “Goo Goo Muck” has also won its spooky victories. Ortega’s gothic dance scene has gone viral on social media platforms like TikTok with imitators in braided pigtails. A fan-made TikTok video dance to Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” has resulted in Gaga’s 2011 song jumping up the music streaming charts, and “Goo Goo Muck” has seen an increase in its Spotify streams by 9.500% since “Wednesday” debuted.
Along with noting how Ortega made the Cramps’ menacing brand of rockabilly her own, credit series music supervisors Jen Malone and Nicole Weisberg from Black & White Music for giving “Goo Goo Muck” new life.
Malone and Weisberg just heard of “Wednesday’s” record-setting feat when Variety spoke with them via Zoom.
Before “Wednesday,” you worked with Donald Glover (“Atlanta”), Sam Levinson (“Euphoria”) Raamla Mohamed (“Reasonable Doubt”), and Steven Levitan (“The Reboot”) among others. Does diversity of filmmaker, subject and tone affect what you do?
Malone: Each showrunner and project is different. Every story they tell, how they use music, is a strong vision to be served…. My first gig in the music biz was working at Formula PR years ago as a publicist. It’s amazing that I’m in this place, now.
Weisberg: I love going through source music and pitching. I wanted to get into the head of Wednesday, to use the character’s lens to fill the musical palate.
What playlist does Wednesday have in her head?
Malone: Classical music — darker stuff, not cheery minuets — vintage Latin, and certainly Goth and post-punk. Jenna played Wednesday perfectly. We used her as a temperature read. But everybody (Gough, Millar, Burton) knew what they wanted. We were there to support a strong vision.
Why the Cramps?
Malone: When we readied that episode, we knew it was a school dance with lots of music, and that Jenna was working on her choreography. We had a huge Spotify list and the Cramps were always on it. We pitched the Cramps’ “Human Fly” to the team, too, then spring-boarded onto “Goo Goo Muck.” The Cramps are perfect for Wednesday. They’re in her headspace, like Siouxsie and Joy Division. I’m a former Goth. To work with music I love, to find that right moment — the track had to be fun, quirky and lend itself to Wednesday’s personality. For the team to come back with “Goo Goo Muck”? Done.
Was it an easy track to clear? Only two Cramps on the original recording are alive. Jim Shaw owns the publishing to the song originally released by Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads in 1962.
Malone: It was an easy clear. Everybody was super-psyched for its use.
Post-“Wednesday,” Cramps streams have skyrocketed. What’s your take on bringing one of your favorites to a new generation?
Malone: This job is about the moment, the connection it makes with the audience. One bonus is introducing music to people who haven’t heard it before. Being a part of having kids get into the Cramps – that’s awesome.
Weisberg: It’s amazing to be able to keep songs alive through such an organic moment.
Malone: Our job is not to create viral moments, but to serve story and filmmaker, to get the right song for the scene.
There are TikToks with people impersonating Wednesday dancing to the Cramps, and comparing 2022’s dance sequence to 1964’s original “Addams Family.”
Malone: Having people dress up like Wednesday – the hair, the outfit – with the complete set design and the Cramps? Bravo.