The Boys composer Christopher Lennertz has worked on a wide range of projects over the years, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Agent Carter, but none of that prepared him for his most unusual request yet. During production of Eric Kripke’s superheroes-gone-bad series, he was asked to write a pop song.
It went well. And so on season three (the show’s most recent), Kripke took things one step further, creating the all-Supe teenage boy band Super-Sweet. The result? TV’s biggest viral banger of the year in ‘License to Drive (Me Crazy)’.
Sounding like every ’90s boyband but with a sinister edge, the nostalgic bop is a sugar-coated, satirical work of art. We sat down with Lennertz to get the full story.
It started with a request from showrunner Eric Kripke
The Boys has included original songs before – A-Train’s ‘Faster’ and Starlight’s ‘Never Truly Vanish’ were season two highlights – but for season three Kripke wanted to take things further. “[Kripke called me and said] ‘I’m hoping we do eight, we’ll see what happens’,” Lennertz tells NME via video chat. “Eric loves creating entire worlds, and I think he realised that it was another way to do that.”
Lennertz listened to boybands non-stop for a month
Everyone from NSYNC and Backstreet Boys to New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men were research topics for the composer. He was determined to understand the universal beats his tunes needed to hit. “The key thing that both ‘…License to Drive’ and [another of season three’s new songs] ‘Rock My Kiss’ have is this slow, sexy bridge, which is a huge stereotype of [classic boyband] songs,” he says. “Every single song I listened to from all of those boybands, I kept hearing it. So I was like: “Well, it’s the rules. We have to do it.”
Super-Sweet have a secret backstory
Although we only get to know the unexpectedly down-to-earth lead singer Supersonic from Super-Sweet, Lennertz was given an entire backstory to help him develop their sound. “We envisioned four or five guys who are more about dancing and looking good than anything else,” he says. “Eric [Kripke] wanted them to be super overproduced – very slick and cheesy, you know.” Anyone for a spin-off?
No swearing was allowed
It was important for Lennertz to get the tone just right. For all the profanity in The Boys, it still had to sound authentic to something corporate overseers Vought would produce. “The songs couldn’t be explicitly vulgar because no boyband would ever do that,” says Lennertz. “What was important to Eric was that if people heard them outside of the show, they could be tricked into thinking: ‘You know what? Yeah, I think I remember that song. I loved that song when it came out!’”
The cast were into it
When they finally revealed the song to actor Miles Gaston Villanueva, who plays Supersonic and would have to sing it, he was exhilarated. “Oh my god, he laughed his ass off,” cackles Lennertz. “I told Miles, ‘close your eyes, you are not singing this in the studio. You are singing this at Madison Square Garden, surrounded by a bunch of screaming teenagers, who are literally ready to faint with tears coming out of their eyes. Sell it like that.’” He adds: “We needed to get that swagger that comes from being on stage. You don’t normally get that in a studio, especially if you’re not used to recording in [that situation].”
There’s more where that came from
Fans will be happy to learn that Lennertz is returning to compose Gen V, the teen drama spin-off from The Boys, which releases sometime in 2023. “I can’t tell you anything about it,” he says. “But I’m definitely doing it.”