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"The challenge for me was, how to do this kind of volume, but at a really high level so it’s not karaoke or too cheesy."

GLEE WHIZ

Producer/Arranger/Songwriter Adam Anders is the Man Behind the Songs in Hit Show
Swedish-born Adam Anders was already one of the most successful producer/arrangers in the business, having worked on the Hannah Montana movie, High School Musical 3 and the Jonas BrothersCamp Rock before he was tapped by Glee creator Ryan Murphy to oversee the music for the hit Fox series. And has he ever, dominating the iTunes chart with anywhere from 15-20 of the Top 200 since the show started airing this fall. HITS’ own Roy “Gleek” Trakin caught up with him in between mash-ups.

Glee has really turned into a showcase for the show’s individual talents.
The exciting part for me is putting them into these unfamiliar situations. Lia Michele is an amazing singer, but she’s only really done Broadway. So for her to try to sing a Rihanna song was a whole new experience, showing her a range that she has but wasn’t aware of. That’s very challenging. Take Cory [Monteith], who plays Finn. He’d never really sung before, and his very first vocal session, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” went to #1. You’re taking him from Steve Perry to Chris Brown. It’s a real testament to their talent and resolve, especially with as little time as we have to do it.

The deadline constraints must be daunting.
It’s like putting on a production of Grease every week. The challenge for me was, how to do this kind of volume, but at a really high level so it’s not karaoke or too cheesy. Let’s take these songs, make them Glee, but still cool and accessible. I wanted to do Broadway without it sounding Broadway. We needed it to have an edge because the show itself is quirky. We want everything to sound like a pop hit—even if it’s “You’re Having my Baby” by Paul Anka.

How do you go about the recording process?
We commit as little to live instruments as possible in the early stages. I record a bed with fake strings and horns and get the arrangement approved before starting to replace stuff. That’s very much like I do with the vocals, mapping them out with what I call “stunt doubles”—I’m the voice of several of the guys and my wife does the girls. I don’t have time to experiment with the cast; we have to have the arrangements in place before they add their vocals, but they’ve all just been knocking it out. It’s so interesting to watch which songs people are going to connect with on iTunes every week. I’m not used to getting feedback that directly. My wife and I TiVo the show, and we actually enjoy watching it. It doesn’t even stress me out when the musical numbers come on.

The mash-ups have really become the show’s trademark.
Ryan dreams these things up, hands them to me and says, “Have fun,” and drives off. [Laughs] And I go, “Oh crap.” Those are the most challenging, but they’re also the most fun because we get to be the most creative. It’s almost like writing a new song, in a sense, an original piece.

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