‘The Idea of You’s August Moon gives us the boy band bops we deserve from Mashable


Did rom-com The Idea of You leave you breathless? Like you could dance before you walk? Like you want to get “Closer” to love and get a better “Taste” of what life has to offer? If so, there’s only possible explanation: You’ve been Mooned.

That’s right, you are now a Moonhead, a fan of The Idea of You‘s fictional boy band, August Moon. The film sees 24-year-old August Moon lead singer Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine) fall for 40-year-old art gallery owner Solène (Anne Hathaway). And where their love goes, boy band bops are sure to follow.

The Idea of You boasts several original August Moon songs, including the sweet, strummy “Closer” and the bouncy, cheeky “Taste.” And we can’t forget “Dance Before We Walk,” Hayes Campbell’s anthemic solo debut about starting anew. These songs — and the many others that pop up throughout The Idea of You — feel ripped right from the radio during a boy band’s golden years. They beg for fans to scream along to them at a sold-out stadium tour. For the team behind The Idea of You, that sense of believability was crucial.

“We wanted the music to feel grounded, like this was a band that was approachable,” The Idea of You music supervisor Frankie Pine told Mashable in a video interview. “The approachability of this band was also a part of the story… If they were too flashy, normal folks like ourselves wouldn’t go up and talk to them. But if they’re approachable, it allows for us as the normal audience to feel like we can go up and have that conversation with them. That was probably the most important sellable aspect that we needed, because we needed the connection between our two lead characters to be real.”

That sense of approachability meant that there was no room for pastiche or parody in the film’s music. “I treated August Moon and Hayes Campbell like real people and a real band,” music producer Savan Kotecha told Mashable in a video interview. Kotecha, who has written songs for artists like Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, and the Weeknd, produced the songs for The Idea of You and co-wrote them with Carl Falk.

Kotecha and Falk also co-wrote One Direction’s smash hit “What Makes You Beautiful,” a notable connection given that Robinne Lee, author of The Idea of You, cited Harry Styles as inspiration for the character of Hayes. However, One Direction was not a musical inspiration for the songs in The Idea of You, nor were any other major boy bands.

“When ‘Dance Before You Walk’ came out, people said, ‘This gives me a One Direction feel,’ and I thought, ‘It’s probably because it’s me and Carl Falk, and we have fun when we write these pop songs,’” Kotecha explained. “But it’s great to hear, and I hope that people will feel nostalgic, and it reminds them of those times.”

Nicholas Galitzine in “The Idea of You.”
Credit: Alisha Wetherill / Prime

Nostalgia also played into shaping the sound and performance style of August Moon. There would be no playing into trends that would immediately date the music on release, no showy tricks or intense dance breaks.

“The trick was not to make all the songs feel super current,” Kotecha explained. “My own personal theory on boy bands, even when you think back to New Kids on the Block, is that they shouldn’t sound like what’s happening now on the radio.”

The guideline, then, for August Moon became “guilty pleasure pop songs.” And with his years of experience in the music industry, including writing with boy bands, Kotecha found it helpful to sort out a chronology for August Moon’s discography, including which songs could fit on each of their albums.

The teenybopper ballad “I Got You” — which sees the August Moon boys telling a listener not to worry about “comments” or what she sees on her “timeline” — functions as August Moon’s first big single off their debut album. Kotecha envisioned it as the kind of song a record label would give a boy band who was just starting out. In fact, he had “I Got You” in his back pocket for a while before finding a place for it in The Idea of You.

August Moon’s second album sees the release of sexier — but still fairly boy band clean — songs like “Taste,” with tongue-in-cheek lyrics like: “I got dinner on the plate/It’s gonna have to wait/’Cause I’m going straight for my dessert.” For August Moon’s third album, Kotecha imagined the band would actually be writing their own songs. The result? Bangers like “Guard Down,” which examines the pitfalls of fame and features guitar riffs and drums that fit perfectly into The Idea of You‘s crowd-pleasing August Moon Coachella performance.

The musical centerpiece of the film remains “Dance Before We Walk,” where a newly solo (and single) Hayes sings how he’s “off the moon, and I’m hittin’ the ground like a rocket.” We hear snippets of it throughout the film, as Hayes plays it on the piano and guitar, and Solène encourages him to write it. For Kotecha and Pine both, it remains their favorite song from the film, and the most representative of Hayes’ journey to finding himself outside August Moon.

“It proves that Hayes is more than a cute face in a boy band,” Pine said. “He has depth, he has things he wants to say, and I loved showing the progression of what that’s like as a songwriter.”

When it came to actually recording the songs, Kotecha and Pine both sang the praises of Galitzine. For starters, his voice was key to understanding what shape the August Moon songs would actually end up taking. “If they’d cast an amazing R&B singer, for example, that would have changed where we went with the music,” Kotecha said. “But Nick has a great rich pop tone, so that told us which lane we should play in.”

“Nick is a pro and brought so much to the table vocally,” Pine said. “Typically, when you have an actor, the singing can be a brand-new thing for them, so you tell them how to sing a line, and they’ll just sing the line. But Nick really came in prepared, knowing exactly how Hayes Campbell would have sung that song.”

With a tight recording schedule, there wasn’t enough time to get all the August Moon actors into the studio. Galitzine is leading every song, with Kotecha stepping in as second lead. “He did what we would normally do in three weeks in three days,” Kotecha said of Galitzine.

On top of running an Instagram page for the band, The Idea of You released three August Moon singles in the lead-up to its release: “Dance Before We Walk,” “Closer,” and “Taste.” For Kotecha and Pine, the reaction has been exhilarating.

“I was at the L.A. screening [of The Idea of You] the other day, and there were August Moon fans outside the theater,” Kotecha said. “It’s just been so fun, seeing people with August Moon shirts and bracelets and posters that they make. Hopefully it just continues.”

“There’s nothing better than having a fictional band actually make the charts,” Pine said.

You heard them — stream August Moon!

The Idea of You is now streaming on Prime Video. The Idea of You soundtrack is now streaming.

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