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WandaVision music stuck in your head? Songwriters explain the retro beat behind all those sitcom time bops
From tube-TV retro to ‘90s nostalgia, WandaVision has been steadily working its witchy way through decades’ worth of small-screen delights. For fans caught up on all seven episodes to date, there’s a sound story-related reason for the fresh layer of window dressing that adorns Marvel’s reality-challenged town of Westview with each passing week…but those visual cues aren’t the only ones signaling that WandaVision is rapidly racing through time.
More than most series, music plays a huge role in rounding out the atmosphere of WandaVision’s ever-shifting spot on the TV timeline. From The Twilight Zone and Leave It to Beaver trappings of the show’s early black-and-white episodes, all the way to the more recent Full House and Modern Family vibes, each visual shake-up has been backdropped by completely distinctive music to match the changing mood. And nowhere did the music mean more than in last week’s 7th episode, which gifted fans with one giant earworm of a tune…a catchy little jingle that’s all but impossible to forget.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for WandaVision's seventh episode, "Breaking the Fourth Wall," below!**
Yep, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) swept the rug out from under fans’ expectations with last week’s big (and very un-neighborly) Episode 7 double-cross. But the real lasting impression that our favorite nosy neighbor left has to be the one she made on our ears. Agnes’ transformation into new-witch-in-town Agatha came packaged in an instantly-memorable sitcom tune declaring it’s been “Agatha All Along” behind all the subversive glitches in Wanda’s idyllic Westview matrix.
Turns out there’s tons of behind-the-scenes thinking that’s gone not only into “Agatha All Along,” but into each week’s lineup of catchy new tunes, according to the award-winning songwriting duo behind WandaVision’s memorable music, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Coco, Frozen). Agnes’ oversized personality through the first six episodes ended up being a perfect match for her Agatha alter-ego’s half-haunted, half-humorous musical coming-out party, which songwriter Anderson-Lopez recently described to Marvel as a mash-up of G-rated horror classics.
“[Agatha] gets her own theme song that is in, sort of, The Munsters, Addams Family, kind of... witchy, ghoulish feeling,” explained Anderson-Lopez. She and songwriting partner (and husband) Lopez — the same duo who scored both an Oscar and a Grammy for Frozen’s “Let it Go” — have been the musical minds that’ve provided the score for each week’s time-skipping WandaVision stop.
“It also has a little bit of an Oompa-Loompa tenor feel to it too. We decided since we could hit any decade with that, we had to kind of take a couple swings at what would Agatha's music be?” she added, with Lopez finishing out that thought: “Monsters.”
Just as Wanda and Vision’s early-episode speaking lines sound as if they’ve been crammed inside a tinny, 1950s mono speaker, the music has kept pace each week not only by parroting the era that inspired it, but by actually sounding like an artifact of its time. That's a big standout feature in Episode 5, which dropped our starry-eyed Avengers smack in the middle of the 1980s, complete with music tracks that evoke the pop culture spirit of the decade — no irony required.
“Episode 5 was us channeling every 1980s rock singer and pop singer we could,” said Anderson-Lopez. “So there's a little bit of Jennifer Warnes in there, a little bit of Michael McDonald, and Kris Kristofferson, and Huey Lewis, and even Taylor Dayne.”
Sitcoms from the '80s also served up irony-free musical fodder to help Episode 5 find its way through all the good-natured family chaos. “Part of what was so great [about '80s shows like] Punky Brewster and Growing Pains, those songs were so touchy-feely and ballad-like, and they were so long that we were able to afford ourselves a little more time and to really try and land the emotion of it because it agreed with the style that we were going for,” explained Lopez.
Even though it came in a 7th episode more attuned to Modern Family than The Munsters, “Agatha All Along” went old-school to give Agnes/Agatha her own 1960s-vintage debut. Framed within a campy music video where Agatha vamps and stamps all over Wanda’s unraveling domestic dreams, it’s now a single you can even stream at Spotify — part of the platform’s ever-growing library of official WandaVision tunes.
With Agatha’s hair more frazzled than the Bride of Frankenstein and WandaVision now pretty much caught up to the present day, where will the show’s musical wanderings venture next? Disney and Marvel may know — but the rest of us will have to wait ’til Friday, Feb. 26, when Episode 8 comes humming along to Disney+.