Magic Mike XXL is now in theaters, which means moviegoers can spend their long Independence Day weekend with Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, and the rest of the male strippers they came to know and love three years ago. Like its predecessor, XXL lives and dies by its soundtrack (remember the definitive sequence set to Ginuwine’s “Pony”?), and this time around is just as dynamic and inventive as the last.
That’s largely thanks to Season Kent, the music supervisor who worked closely with the director Gregory Jacobs, co-writer Reid Carolin, Tatum and choreographer Alison Faulk to construct the multiple music beats in the film. “I was on set for most of the shoot because almost every scene has on-camera music in it,” Kent tells EW. “Right after I got hired, we had this big meeting where we went through all the big dance sequences and talked about it. Reid was explaining what he was trying to get out of the scene, Greg was matching it visually, and Channing and Alison were talking about what they were looking for dance-wise. So a lot of the ideas that ended up in the movie came out of that room.”
One of those ideas was the incredible scene that focuses on Manganiello’s character’s revolutionary stripping ideas. “In the movie, there’s this whole thing that Joe’s character has about finding the right girl. So they come up with all these new stripper ideas, and he’s the fireman, and he hates being the fireman. So he’s like, ‘What if I marry this girl and then we go consummate the marriage?'” Kent explains.
His solution? Don a tuxedo and do a dance to a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” (performed by co-star Donald Glover), which then transitions into Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” “Glover’s producer, who works with him as Childish Gambino, actually produced the track,” says Kent, who also oversaw the music on the upcoming Paper Towns and put together the soundtrack to The Fault In Our Stars. “The concept is amazingly perfect, because it’s a sweet fun little thing, and then suddenly ‘Closer’ kicks in and he puts her in a sex swing. I’m still in awe that we got that song in the movie. We had to go to Trent [Reznor] to sign off, and they were cool. As far as I know, I think they’re fans of Steven Soderbergh and his camp. I think they had a good sense of humor about it, because we were honest about what the scene was. I’m so thankful we got it. The band’s attorney and manager were so great with us. Joe was so excited. When I told him that ‘Closer’ cleared, he was so excited.”
Other great music moments in Magic Mike XXL include Manganiello’s tribute to the Backstreet Boys. “Each guy has his own moment, so it was a lot of talking to the actors,” Kent says. “We talked to Joe, and he was like, ‘Yes, definitely down, Backstreet Boys would be awesome.’ Because the actors were involved, they were more vested and excited. It was totally a group process.”
There’s also the late arrival of R. Kelly’s “Cookie” in a sequence that really blew away everybody on set. “When we saw the rehearsal for the first time, I think it was me and the director and Soderbergh, I think all of our jaws dropped,” Kent says. “Being on set with that song, the energy was so fun.”
Magic Mike XXL is in theaters now, and the soundtrack album is also available.