Radiohead's "Creep," Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" and Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" are given mariachi and norteño makeovers in Fox's animated film "The Book of Life." The film also features two originals by Gustavo Santaolalla, who arranged the covers, and Paul Williams.
First-time director Jorge Gutierrez wrote those songs and others — the Elvis Presley hit "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Rod Stewarts' "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" — into his initial script, basing the selections on "the playlist of my life." The film also includes covers of songs by Café Tacuba, Kinky and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
"I thought that at some point they'd be replaced," Gutierrez told Billboard after a presentation of clips form the film on the Fox lot. After we got 'Creep,' every band said ‘wow you got Radiohead.' That made it easier."
"The Book of Life," which marks the animated voice-over debut of Ice Cube and the singing debut of actor Diego Luna, is based on Mexican folk art, Day of Dead folklore, the Greek myth of Orpheus and Mayan culture. Placido Domingo also adds bit of opera to the film.
"Using norteño and mariachi music communicates to the audience Mexican culture is international," says producer Guillermo del Toro, who quoted Alfred Hitchcock's saying that to be international requires being specific. "Mexico is more than folklore – it's the way we filter the influence of the world."
"The Book of Life," which includes the voices of Christina Applegate, Kate del Castillo, Channing Tatum and Zoe Saldana, opens Oct. 17.