YouTube Originals to Launch ‘Behind the Beats,’ Featuring Blondie, Snoop Dogg, L7 (EXCLUSIVE)

YouTube Originals will launch on Nov. 18 “Behind the Beats,” a novel animated pop music anthology series produced by France’s TeamTO and 22D Music Group in partnership with France Télévisions, the French public broadcaster. 

Episodes 1-4 of the novel history of pop will also debut on the YouTube Kids app, YouTube Originals Kids & Family announced on Wednesday.

YouTube and TeamTO have shared first-look images from the series in exclusivity with Variety

The deal sees YouTube launching the series worldwide but with a one-year holdback in the French language, where France Télévisions has first-window exclusivity. 

“This new animated musical series from TeamTO hits a sweet spot for family co-viewing, filling a gap for parents who want to watch something together with their kids that they actually will enjoy,” said Craig Hunter, global head of kids & family originals for YouTube. 

Currently packing a first season of 26 five-minute episodes, “Behind the Beats” tells the story of how talented musicians with radically different styles came together to create a new genre or movement. 

In “Disco Meets Punk: A Story of New Wave,” for example, Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein meet Donna Summer and composer Girgio Moroder at Studio 54 as “I Feel Love” hits the charts. They resolve to fuse punk with Moroder’s futuristic synth sound. The result, “Heart of Glass,” creates New Wave.   

Snoop Dogg meets Dr. Dre who injects the funk of his childhood into Gangsta Rap in another episode. Snoop Dogg’s “Who Am I” (“What’s My Name)?” becomes the first rap album which enters the charts at No. 1. 

“Punk Meets Hard Rock: A Story of Grunge has L7, the all-women band, yoking Ramones-style punk with the rock of Joan Jett (“I Love Rock’n’ Roll”) and, moving to Seattle, founding grunge.

The series also explores the stories behind movements such as rock’n’roll, reggae, electro pop and trap. Each episode features three tracks, which can include some of the greatest songs of all time, such as Patti Smith’s “Gloria: In Excelsis Deo,” Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” in the story of New Wave.  

Episodes feature a lively interchange between a male and female commentators who draw bigger picture connections –  between Debbie Harry and Lady Gaga, for instance. 

“When we discovered this project, we dreamed of bringing it to both a local and an international audience, so we are genuinely thrilled to be partnering with both YouTube  and France Télévisions,” commented Corinne Kouper, SVP of production and development, TeamTO. 

“We cannot imagine a better way to launch this series on both digital platforms and public broadcasters, all made possible by the incredible resources and expertise of the 22D Music Group,” she added.

22D Music Group took on the titanic task of clearing artist rights.

Even though the partnership included a big company such as the Google-owned YouTube and a classic European public broadcaster such as France Télevisions on the other, “the workflow was very nice with everyone. It was a very smooth relationship,” Kouper said. YouTube and France Télévisions also coincided in their aim of targeting 12+ upwards audiences. 

Figures are drawn is lively simplified lines which makes them recognisable, though the series never attempts photo-realistic likenesses. 

Many now legendary artists started off very young, Juan Atkins at 17 in his bedroom at his parents’ place in Detroit listening to The Midnight Funk Association. His breakthrough was when his grandmother gave him synthesiser, “Behind the Beats” notes. Amazed by Bernie Worrell’s use of the Minimoog bass on the Parliament song “Flash Light” and catching Kraftwerk’s “The Robots,” Atkins fuses the funk of Parliament with electronic and cuts Cybotron’s “Clear” in 1983. Techno explodes. 

“The series repeatedly shows young people with dreams and those dreams coming true, their creativity sparked by meeting other artists. That’s very inspiring and moving,” said Kouper.  

“In each episode, we use the story of one person, whether singer or artists, to make the music more palatable. Also we show how diversity is such a great creative tool. In today’s world, that’s an amazing message,” said Patricia de Wilde, TeamTO director of marketing and new business.

“This series has it all, it’s educational, inspiring and just fun to watch for anyone who loves and appreciates music,” Hunter concluded. 

The theme song is Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards’ classic “We Are Family,” revisited by Yeti Beats in collaboration with Rodgers himself and featuring Snoop Dogg and vocals by Sheléa: Eras and styles collide to create an expansive, joyous statement of inclusivity.  

“Behind the Beats” is created by Baptiste Jaquemet. It is produced by Corinne Kouper (TeamTO) and Emmanuel Deletang (22D Media Group). 

Hunter serves as creative lead from YouTube on the series with Zoë Di Stefano as creative executive. Creative lead at France Télévisions is Pierre Siracusa.

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