EW talks to Andy Samberg and others involved in the bop-heavy soundtrack, including the song choice behind that fan-favorite choreographed dance.

By Omar Sanchez
July 27, 2020 at 04:40 PM EDT
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Palm Springs is quarantine’s summer hit, and no other scene sums up the breezy fun and absurdity of the Groundhog Day-esque rom-com than when stars Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti walk into a bar and step into a choreographed dance. Despite how precisely everything in that scene was planned (from the hip sways to the techno in the background), the fan-favorite moment wouldn't have come to be if it wasn’t for, well, a relatable coincidence: Samberg listening to music on the radio.

“It was one hot afternoon, and it wasn't ‘Megatron Man,’” Samberg tells EW of encountering the '70s EDM legend Patrick Cowley’s song on a drive. “I took a picture of my dash and went home and went on a deep Cowley dive. I was like, who is this dude? This sounds incredible.”

For those who either haven’t watched Palm Springs or are still stuck in the time loop, the choreographed dance comes after wedding guests Nyles (Samberg) and Sarah (Milioti) find themselves unable to escape the longest wedding of all time. A half-hour into the movie, Nyles and Sarah start having some fun with their unlimited lives. There’s a plane crash. A terrorist gag. But then comes a game of pool at a biker bar. The duo shows up with matching Canadian tuxedos and proceed to pull off a routine — with a middle-finger cherry on top — to intimidate the simps who dare play them.

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If the thumping EDM song whistling in the background sounds at all familiar, it’s because it's also the first song the wedding guests dance to after Nyles' epic wedding toast. Samberg says they locked “Megatron Man” to be in the movie well before production, giving them enough time to nail the choreography by Hollywood vet Michelle Johnston. If you think that isn't enough layers for one scene, Samberg adds that the bar scene choreography is purposefully similar to Nyles' dance moves in the earlier scene when he tries to flirt with Sarah on the dance floor.

"Megatron Man" adds a necessary pulse to the scene. In fact, the Hulu film is head-to-toe with bops that bring it to life: from '60s folk rock (shout out to John Cale) to ethereal ballads (see: “Cloudbusting” by Kate Bush).

“When I was scouting down in Palmdale, I was forcing Samberg to send me music,” director Max Barbakow tells EW. “It was a very cool experience driving out in the desert, location to location, even for songs that didn’t make the movie.”

The entire 20-song soundtrack can be found online. It’s only the tip of the iceberg of songs the team of Samberg, Barbakow, and screenwriter Andy Siara (the latter two which met at school at AFI) came up with to find the right music for a chillin’-at-Joshua-Tree vibe — with assists from Miloti and Samberg’s wife, musician Joanna Newsom. “It’s that Yucca Valley feel that transcends the decades and kind of provides this hedonistic playground for fun,” Barbakow says.

Even before “Megatron Man” made it to the official soundtrack, there were two songs that were written into the initial script: “Spinning Away” by John Cale and “Forever and Ever” by Demis Roussous. “Forever and Ever” made it in, a deep cut at the very beginning of the movie sets the tone for the rest of the story.

“In writing the script, that was always the last song,” Siara, who started working on an initial playlist with Barbakow as early as 2015, says of "Forever and Ever." “I heard it and it was so beautiful, with a little bit of cheese, and a little bit of eeriness. That kind of captures the feeling for me of what the ending was like.”

Roussos was a Greek vocalist behind the '60s prog-rock group Aphrodite’s Child. It was when he went solo that he gave fans “Forever and Ever,” which would reach No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1976.

As to how Siara knew of Roussous: “I maybe heard it in passing as a child,” Siara admits. “It was one of those that popped up on the radio or Spotify radio. Something like that.”

The song was eventually lifted to the beginning. Hall & Oates' “When the Morning Comes" took its place at the end, a result of an email chain where the team realized how "Forever and Ever" was too eerie for its own good. “There was an eerie kind of undercurrent that was definitely too creepy for the ending,” Siara added.

Oh, but not the dino-? Nevermind!

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