Ask me for a list of my favourite things and three things will invariably find themselves near the top: film, indie pop, and musicals. Regular Ca Va Cool readers may remember my unabashed love for the quirky underside of Broadway or my yearning for certain bands to return to their indie pop roots. Needless to say, when I heard that Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch was working on a movie musical, I immediately set out to learn as much as possible about the project. Hours of tireless investigative journalism later (read: I googled it), here’s what I know, and what you should be excited to learn, about God Help the Girl.

About five years ago, while out for a jog, Stuart Murdoch first had the idea for a song entitled ‘God Help the Girl’. In his head, Murdoch could hear the tune sung by female vocals backed with strings. He realized this was something new, which would have to be separate from his songwriting work with Belle & Sebastian. During the recording and subsequent touring of Belle & Sebastian’s latest LP, The Life Pursuit, more songs came to him. He started to identify two or three main characters behind the words to the songs. Murdoch held auditions and internet-wide singing contests, searching for the voices to match these characters. He found three main vocalists: Catherine Ireton, Brittany Stallings, and Dina Bankole. Along with seven other vocalists, including Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy and Asya from Smoosh, the trio recorded the soundtrack of a musical film which has yet to be written, much less filmed. The result is an album which shares the title of that very first song, set to be released June 22.

Murdoch is currently writing the screenplay to accompany his soundtrack, with plans to film sometime in 2010. Though the final script has yet to be written, we do know that God Help the Girl (the film) will be about a three-woman singing group, that it may end tragically, and that the music will be beautiful. God Help the Girl (the album) features two songs previously recorded by Belle & Sebastian (‘Act of the Apostle II’ and ‘Funny Little Frog’ from The Life Pursuit) and a host of new songs which showcase Murdoch’s original vision. Gorgeous vocals from Ireton, Stallings, and Bankole, along with sweeping orchestral accompaniment hint at the cinematic potential of the finished product. The remake of one of my favourite Belle & Sebastian songs, ‘Funny Little Frog’, allows for a direct contrast between Murdoch’s two musical minds, with the new female version trading in the the Scottish group’s indie pop jangle for 60’s-inspired strings and harmonies.

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— , June 6, 2009    2 Comments