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Musicals are a fascinating genre. There's a huge emphasis on the songs, and the songwriting. But the music in a musical needs to be performed by talented actors and actresses who, you assume, love the music that they are putting on screen. Wouldn't it suck to watch Mamma Mia! and then learn that the cast hated ABBA? Or to finish La La Land, only to hear that Ryan Gosling hates jazz?
This popped into my mind after speaking with Kiersey Clemons about her winning new crowd-pleaser of a musical drama Hearts Beat Loud, which launched at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and is making its way to theaters. Clemons stars alongside Nick Offerman (Parks and Rec) as a father-daughter duo who write a few original songs, only to find them taking off thanks to Spotify airplay. When Clemons told me that about the challenging aspects about filming Hearts Beat Loud, she brought up the music, and explained:
The music genre wasn't one that I felt my voice naturally sung by choice. So, having to learn these songs that I probably wouldn't have chosen to sing, per se -- that was difficult. But at the end it was really rewarding because I really enjoyed it. It made me look at different genres of music that I might actually want to make as Kiersey.
The songs written by Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons' characters in Brett Haley's Hearts Beat Loud are radio-friendly pop hits with irresistible hooks and empowering lyrical messages. It's easy to see why they find an audience -- even if it happens in an improbable fashion for the benefit of this charming family drama. But Clemons and Offerman are so good at performing the songs in the movie -- especially during their record-store concert, a signature scene in the film -- that I never once thought Clemons didn't personally connect with the genre.
And yet, this should have been clear. Throughout her career, Kiersey Clemons held roles in projects with musical ties. She co-starred in the Disney Channel hits Shake It Up and Austin & Ally. She broke out in the Sundance hit Dope, which had a strong soundtrack of early hip-hop. But as she tells CinemaBlend, when wanting to make her own brand of music, this might not be her first choice, no matter how catchy it sounds:
Hearts Beat Loud started screening in theaters last weekend, and got off to a strong start in limited release, earning roughly $75,000 in four locations. If the movie's playing near you, make sure to grab tickets... and be ready to download the soundtrack once you get home. It's that good.