Beat Bugs creator Josh Wakely on how he got access to the Beatles' song catalogue
Netflix's latest series calls on celebs from Sia to James Corden to record covers of the Fab Four's music for a new generation
Launching today on Netflix is adorable new animated children’s series Beat Bugs, which transports its viewers to a vivid universe of tiny insects with a penchant for bursting into song – Beatles songs, sung by celebrities like James Corden, Robbie Williams, Sia, Pink, and Rod Stewart, to be specific.
Getting hold of the Northern Songs catalogue is no mean feat – it took creator Josh Wakely three years to acquire the rights to the music.
“It became my full-time job,” he tells us. “Looking back, I was being rejected again and again but I was like the boy at the high school dance who doesn’t realise he’s being told ‘no’. They’d say, ‘That’s a good idea, thanks anyway,’ but what I heard was ‘come back again’. Eventually, SONY/ATV agreed, and said it was because they considered it their responsibility to bring the Beatles’ music to new generations.
“Even though it took so long, I never considered using any other artists for the series. My vision was to take Beatles songs to tell love-filled moral messages for children. The writing in their music is so ripe for reinterpretation, and the characters and world that I created was so tied to the imagination of their songs that I knew I needed them. People in years to come will talk about the Beatles like we talk about Shakespeare.
“One of the things I love most about the series was using songs that weren’t huge hits by comparison – songs like I’m So Tired is perfect for telling children to go to bed. We’ve got the classics in there too, of course.
“Sia’s version of Blackbird blows me away, and P!nk specifically asked to take Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. James Corden was brilliant, and sings I’m a Loser. He came straight from his late-night show and nailed it in the first take. He has young children, and has sat through bad kids’ television, and totally understood what we were trying to do straight away – his cover is an amazing mixture of humour and warmth, and he just has a cracking voice.”
Beat Bugs is on Netflix now, with a second series available on November 18th Josh Wakely also has an upcoming animated series featuring contemporary artists singing hit songs from the Motown catalogue, with Smokey Robinson serving as Executive Music Producer.