Annie’s songs became legendary almost as soon as the show premiered on the New York stage. Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without songs like “Tomorrow,” “Maybe,” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” – songs everyone knows by heart. But in fact, those songs, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, debuted fewer than 40 years ago.
Still, the songs were written then for a different spin on Annie – a period take, and a traditional Broadway staging. With the new film set in 2014, the music needed to feel like it belonged in 2014. With that in mind, writer-director Will Gluck teamed up with the experts. Gluck called on the Australian superstar Sia, whose song “Chandelier” became an international success earlier this year, peaking at #1 on the iTunes singles chart in 31 countries; she has also written songs for Rihanna (“Diamonds”), Katy Perry (“Double Rainbow”), Britney Spears (“Perfume”), Beyoncé (“Pretty Hurts”), Kylie Minogue, (“Kiss Me Once”), and Celine Dion (“Loved Me Back To Life”), and Greg Kurstin, who has produced and co-written many songs with Sia and many other award-winning artists. Gluck and Sia would rework and update the lyrics of some of the songs; Sia and Kurstin would reimagine the music for modern ears; and Kurstin, who served as the film’s composer and Executive Music Producer, would arrange and produce the tracks, playing many of the instruments himself. Overseeing the music as it was integrated into the film was Executive Music Supervisor Matt Sullivan.
“I love Annie,” says Sia, who also has a cameo in the film. “I grew up watching it hundreds and hundreds of times as a kid.”
“We’ve kind of flipped the songs on their heads, and made them contemporary,” says Sullivan, a veteran music supervisor who joined the Annie team. “There’s a mix of all genres of music in it.”
“I love the ‘Annie’ music,” says Kurstin. “Of course, I saw the show when I was growing up. And I have a jazz background – I used to play all the old standards, like these – so I appreciate the songs and the compositions. But I do a lot of pop production now, and I don’t really get to work on songs like these. It seemed exciting to do a modern version of these cool, old songs.”
A veteran producer of pop songs, Kurstin is also a recording artist in his own right; with singer Inara George, he has recorded three albums as The Bird and The Bee. In 2010, they recorded the album “Reinterpreting the Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates,” on which Kurstin created new arrangements of the AM radio favorites of his childhood. It’s an experience he drew upon for his work on Annie. “These are songs that I grew up hearing, whether it’s Hall and Oates or Annie,” he explains. “For me, there’s something very exciting about the chance to do a contemporary version of these classic songs. I like to look at these songs, at the production, and to see how we bring these into the future so they sit side-by-side with today’s music. I think these Annie songs are great pop songs, and if you take them out of the typical Broadway treatment and treat them like modern day pop songs, maybe more people could hear them and hear them for what they are. They’re just great songs.”
Gluck was very involved with the music – not only tweaking lyrics with Sia, but directing Kurstin on the sound he wanted to hear. “It was hard,” says Sia. “‘Little Girls’ in particular was difficult to deconstruct, because I’m such a fan of the original version. I didn’t want to do anything blasphemous. But in giving the songs these anthemic pop choruses, I thought it came out really cool. I hope we did okay.”
In addition to the reimagining of the classic songs, three all-new songs are woven seamlessly into the classic score. “Who Am I,” written by Sia Furler, Greg Kurstin, Thomas Edward Percy Hull and Will Gluck, and produced by Greg Kurstin, is sung in three parts, by Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), and Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis). “Opportunity” is a standout number sung by Annie with a full orchestra behind her at a black tie event at the Guggenheim Museum, again written by Sia, Kurstin, and Gluck, with Kurstin producing. “The City’s Yours,” written by Sia with the songwriter-producers Stargate and Benny Blanco, comes as Will Stacks sings to Annie while flying above Manhattan in a helicopter. “It lets her know that no matter where you come from, you still got an opportunity to make it,” says Jamie Foxx, who stars as Stacks. “The words are, ‘This is just the start of your story, If you got guts, you got glory, Anyone can make their dreams come true.’ Those are words that we could all live by.”
A Broadway classic that has delighted audiences for generations comes to the big screen with a new, contemporary vision in Columbia Pictures’ comedy Annie. Director/Producer/Screenwriter Will Gluck teams with producers James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith & Will Smith, Caleeb Pinkett, and Shawn “JAY Z” Carter, Laurence “Jay” Brown, and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith with a modern telling that captures the magic of the classic characters and original show that won seven Tony Awards. Celia Costas and Alicia Emmrich serve as Executive Producers. The screenplay is by Will Gluck and Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the musical stage play “Annie,” book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and on “Little Orphan Annie,” © and ® Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Academy Award® nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.
Annie Movie — Emoji ‘It’s The Hard Knock Life’