‘Footloose’ Soundtrack Puts New Country Artists in the Spotlight
The highly-anticipated remake of the 1984 film, ‘Footloose,’ which has been in the works since 2007, hits theaters today (October 14), starring Hollywood newcomer Kenny Wormald and singer/dancer/actress Julianne Hough. The movie’s soundtrack features Blake Shelton singing the title track previously made famous by Kenny Loggins, and Blake is in plenty of good country company. The 12-song CD boasts songs by some of Nashville’s finest, including Zac Brown, Big & Rich, Hunter Hayes, Jana Kramer and country newcomer Ella Mae Bowen. Their songs and their voices are diverse, but they each agree on one thing: being asked to contribute to the soundtrack was an honor they were happy to accept.
Hunter, whose debut album hit shelves this week, sings on the duet, ‘Almost Paradise,’ along with Victoria Justice. The singer-songwriter wasn’t even born when the song first hit the airwaves — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fan. “I consider the song to be very timeless. I’ve heard it a bazillion times, and it’s a very classic song,” Hunter tells The Boot. “Needless to say, I was a little nervous going into the studio to recreate a song like that with such a deep-rooted meaning. But Victoria did a fantastic job on it, and I’m really lucky they decided to use my voice on it.”
The 20-year-old devoted plenty of hours to working on the ballad, without knowing if he would actually be invited to sing on the track. “I spent four days in the studio singing the song, without any guarantee I was going to be on this album,” he recalls. “Victoria sang it and they loved her voice on it, and wanted someone to go opposite her. It was, ‘Will my voice really match up with hers?’ I had to really be careful. I had to really spend time to mesh well, so I could be in the movie.”
Jana was invited to sing ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy,’ which Deniece Williams took to the top of the charts 27 years ago. The actress and singer was a bit intimidated by one part of the song, which producer Scott Hendricks insisted she include.
“I did that. It took me forever,” she explains of the notoriously high notes in the tune. “Scott was like, ‘You have to get this,’ and I said, ‘I can’t physically hit that note.'” But the ‘One Tree Hill‘ star proved she was a true professional and nailed the part, even though she admits it took her more than five hours to achieve the sound Scott was after. Still, she clearly still has plenty of affection for the famed producer, who is also at the helm of her new album.
“He’s amazing. I adore him,” she gushes.”[The album] will be out early next year. The songs on the album are everything that I’ve gone through, everything I can relate to, and I mean everything I say. I probably wrote about half, and the other ones were just amazing songs that I could relate to, and I decided I wanted them.”
One of the most surprising tunes on the soundtrack is newcomer Ella Mae’s ‘Holding Out for a Hero,’ which was an uptempo rock hit for gravel-voiced Bonnie Tyler in ’84. For the remake, Ella Mae combines her flawless, pure vocals with a simple, acoustic track, to create a memorable version that’s quite different from the original.
“When we were contacted by [producer] Craig Brewer’s team and everyone involved in making the movie and the soundtrack, they wanted a ballad version,” she explains. “They definitely wanted to pay tribute to the old movie but take some songs and make them a little bit different. My producer and I did look at his other films and say, ‘I’m a country artist. Maybe we could make this a little bit more raw and he’d be OK with it.’ Luckily he was, and it’s jump-started my career to have this on the soundtrack. I’m so excited.”
The 15-year-old prodigy was invited to join the Big Machine Label Group only one day before the movie made its debut just outside of Nashville. The precocious teen is already hard at work on her first project.
“The album will have a lot of variety,” Ella Mae maintains. “I’m still writing some. We have a good many songs but you never really have enough. All I can hope for is that it be a true reflection of who I am and have a lot of variety.”
Check ‘Footloose’ movie times and ticket availability here, and watch exclusive red carpet footage from the ‘Footloose’ premiere below.