It would be impossible to make a film about young girls that is set in the early aughts and not have a boy band influence. That’s what inspired director Domee Shi and the team behind Disney•Pixar’s Turning Red to create the fictional boy band 4*Town.
“4*Town is definitely inspired by the bands of the late 90s, early 2000s,” says Shi. “Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Westlife, 98 Degrees, O-Town. We really wanted them to be a direct homage to the boy bands of that era and also add a contemporary spin to it.”
The team had a lot of fun when assigning the roles of each band member. There’s Robaire, the lead singer and member most likely to have a solo career after the breakup. Tae Young is the cute one inspired by modern K-Pop groups. Aaron Z. is the sporty one, while Aaron T. is the goofy one. Jesse’s the pretty one who might also be a little older than the other members of the group.
Turning Red hopes to pay homage to those groups of the past. “I feel like boy bands are often ridiculed by media,” says Shi. “We really wanted to pay tribute to this cultural phenomenon and not just make fun of it.”
When it came to creating the music for 4*Town, the Turning Red team turned to Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell. Knowing the request to write songs for a fictional boyband was a little unusual, the Pixar team created a physical scrapbook to send to Eilish and O’Connell. “It had doodles and drawings and photos and fan art, and we cut out Billie and Finneas’ heads and put ‘em on 4*Town characters,” according to producer Lindsey Collins.
“It turns out, the scrapbook worked because Billie and Finneas agreed to do it,” continues Collins. “We were so happy they did. Their songs really brought 4*Town to life.”
Not only did Finneas O’Connell partner with his sister to create songs for the film, he joined the voice cast to sing as Jesse in 4*Town. He’s joined by Jordan Fisher, Josh Levi, Topher Ngo, and Grayson Villanueva in the band.
When you watch Turning Red you’ll get to hear three original songs from 4*Town. The Pixar team requested O’Connell and Eilish write songs by theme. They wanted the song you play for your friends when they’re feeling down, the hit song that everyone knows, and a love ballad that reminds you having your heart broken. “They actually wrote a song that kind of checks each of those boxes,” according to Collins. “That’s just part of what we’re really excited to-to share with the world really, really soon.”
You can meet 4*Town for yourself when Turning Red begings streaming on Disney+ on March 11, 2022!