If you watched the first three episodes of the Disney+ series “WandaVision,” then you probably have the theme songs stuck in your head. That makes sense because said songs were created by Disney’s earworm aficionados, the Oscar-winning lyricists/husband and wife songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez. The musical mavens behind the likes of “Let It Go” and “Remember Me” had the task of giving “WandaVision” it’s era-specific throwback songs and setting the tone for the unique series to come.
“The decades themselves were the biggest style influences,” Anderson-Lopez told IndieWire. “It was really important to everyone, from the top down, to make sure that we didn’t do specific parodies of any one song or any one show, but that they were evocative of many shows.” So, if you’re like us, and felt the pilot theme felt like a mash-up of “The Donna Reed Show” meets “Patty Duke,” then you aren’t exactly wrong. “That was there but also ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘I Married Joan,” Anderson-Lopez said.
The goal was to present an overview of the iconic shows of the era. With the 1950s and ’60s referenced in the first two episodes, Anderson-Lopez said she’s reminded of a History of Jazz course she took in college. “It was really the history of American music, American popular music,” she said. “I was always fascinated by the instruments and how the availability of musicians who played those instruments affected what our music sounded like.”
The arrival of small bands and enhanced technology would eventually move the big band era into things like synth and new wave, all of which is reflected in the “WandaVision” themes. In the third episode set in the 1970s, the Lopezes say you’ll hear shades of “The Partridge Family,” as well as “The Brady Bunch,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and popular songs like “Free to Be (You and Me).”
But like the series itself, that bright and peppy veneer holds an air of darkness, and the “WandaVision” songs are certainly evocative of the show’s eeriness and mystery. Bobby Lopez says he sees that. “One of the techniques of this show is to use a bright and cheery sound, and then juxtapose it with a creepy situation,” he says. He brings up the rhyme from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” — “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you” — as a great example.
The duo explains they want the audience to feel that paranoia. “We put a tritone in the main theme which is [considered] the devil’s interval, and it might feel creepy, sometimes dreamy,” Lopez said. The main point was to create a unifying motif in every single song, regardless of the decade variance. So, as Anderson-Lopez points out, the “Wanda-Vis-ion” pronunciation in the pilot, complete with tritone, goes throughout the entire series to continually keep the audience on edge and reminiscent of that instability.
“WandaVision” is streaming now on Disney+.