Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie gave Netflix’s Thelma the Unicorn a gross ‘viral hit’

Netflix’s new animated film Thelma the Unicorn is full of soulful rock music, but one song stands out like a neon-colored sore thumb: ‘Here Comes the Cud.’ And that is intentional. Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords designed ‘Here Comes the Cud’ to be as disgustingly catchy and synthetic as possible. Creating a viral sensation — or at least a number that could pass for a viral sensation in the fictional world of a movie — is a tall order. Thelma directors Jared Hess (Napoleon dynamite) and Lynn Wang (from Cartoon Network). UniKitty! series) spoke to Polygon about how they conceived and planned it.

As unicorn-disguised pony Thelma (Brittany Howard) chases fame, her manager Vic Diamond (McKenzie’s Flight of the Conchords partner Jemaine Clement) sets her up with super-popular social media influencer Danny Stallion (Fred Armisen). whose entire tactic is to vomit out his followers.

Wang says the filmmakers looked at real-world online behavior to shape the character. “Danny was really just an amalgamation of all kinds of over-the-top influencers,” she says.

Image: Netflix

Thelma and Danny pretend to be in a relationship for PR value, just to stir up some intrigue and romance for their followers, and Vic decides they should collaborate on a song. At first, Thelma is eager, presenting a folder of songs close to the powerful rock ballads she sings early in the film. But Vic says superstars don’t write their own songs: “The Algorithm” does it for them.

He puts a request into a machine called “Bridget,” and it spits out “Here Comes the Cud,” a song with a catchy yet soulless beat, simplistic lyrics, and an over-the-top music video set on a yacht. . It’s incredibly catchy, but the lyrics are about chopping up partially digested food, and are punctuated by burps and other body sounds. It’s a far cry from the emotional, more personal songs that Thelma sings in a barn at the beginning of the film. For fans of Flight of the Conchords, the direct humor, synthy music and rap rhythms will also sound familiar.

“We had to establish Thelma’s musical style and determine what kind of music was true to her and that came naturally from her, and then show how it is corrupted by fame and stardom,” says Hess. “So it was nice to be able to show that contrast. Once it reaches ‘Here Comes the Cud’ it’s all downhill.

The difference between the music Thelma writes for herself and the music the world’s top stars make was very clearly defined. Wang and Hess worked with the film’s songwriters and music producers to map out how those dynamics played into Thelma’s arc.

Taura StinsonBret McKenzie and all of our songwriters really understood Thelma’s journey and what really needed to be put into all the lyrics to really help drive that emotional journey of hers,” says Wang. “But at the same time it’s also a lot of fun. Bret really brought the humor. It was really awesome.”

Thelma the Unicorn now streaming on Netflix.