Elle Fanning knew that she had “such a great responsibility” as she sang some beloved pop songs by Robyn, Ellie Goulding, and Carly Rae Jepsen for her new movie Teen Spirit.
“[These] are such well-known songs and very specific songs, even the singers that sing them have a specific voice, it’s not just every other pop song,” Fanning told EW. “These are pop anthems that people love, especially ‘Dancing on My Own’ — that’s my sister’s favorite song so I didn’t want to ruin it.”
Teen Spirit, out in theaters April 5, follows teen Polish immigrant Violet (Fanning) as she auditions for a televised reality singing competition, hoping that it will not only open doors for her to pursue music but also allow her to escape her working class life on the small British island, Isle of Wight. In the exclusive clip above, Violet picks “Dancing on My Own” for her audition, shown in a montage of her singing the song as she goes about her life, dreaming of something bigger.
Fanning said the indie movie, written and directed by The Handmaid’s Tale star Max Minghella, benefited hugely from music label Interscope Records coming on board to give permission to use some major pop hits by its roster of artists, which “completely elevated the movie — it had to have those big tracks in there.” The 14-track soundtrack to the film, which includes Fanning’s covers such as “Lights” by Goulding, will be released on April 5.
Fanning said she was drawn to Minghella’s portrayal of the shy, reserved but determined Violet, who comes into her own as she sees her tunnel of opportunity get bigger: “I felt like I really understood that type of girl, there’s a lot of me that’s in Violet as well.”
But she wasn’t the filmmakers’ immediate choice for the role.
“They were looking for girls from Poland who could speak Polish and were singers and I’m not, so I definitely wasn’t on their radar,” she explained. “My ears perked up and I was like, ‘I can sing, and I’ve been looking for something to show that.'”
Fanning worked with the film’s composer Marius De Vries for three months to develop her singing voice, which had to mimic Violet’s journey from untrained vocals to a more polished sound over the course of her journey.
“The last song, [Sigrid’s] ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe,’ wasn’t chosen until very late in the game so that was the most stressful time because it was the song I needed to know the best and I knew it the least, the performance that I had to really kill,” Fanning said. “But the singing was something that it was so incredible to actually hear the progression and realize that the work really pays off.”