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Sara Bareilles: 'Girls5eva' Season 2 reflects real music struggles

Sara Bareilles returns in "Girls5eva" Season 2. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI
1 of 5 | Sara Bareilles returns in "Girls5eva" Season 2. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, May 4 (UPI) -- Sara Bareilles said Season 2 of her comedy series, Girls5eva, premiering Thursday, is accurate when it comes to the struggles of singer-songwriters.

Bareilles, 42, released seven albums before playing Dawn in Girls5eva, including the soundtracks to the Broadway musical Waitress and the Apple TV+ series Little Voice.

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"Dawn falls into this pattern of trying to say too much with one song," Bareilles told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "She's going over the lifespan of a human."

Bareilles confirmed that Dawn's troubles are heightened for comedic purposes. However, Bareilles said, she is not afraid to make mistakes when she writes her original music.

"I certainly am someone who relates to trial and error," Bareilles said. "Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. I have plenty of getting it wrong under my belt."

The original music on Girls5eva is written by Jeff Richmond, 61. The songs from Season 1 satirized pop music of the '90s.

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The members of Girls5eva were Dawn, Summer (Busy Phillips), Gloria (Paula Pell), Wickie (Renee Elise Goldsberry) and the late Ashley (Ashley Park, only in flashbacks). Most of the Season 1 music represented the band's '90s output, inspired by bands like the Spice Girls.

The Season 1 soundtrack included eight tracks. Richmond said fans could expect more music in Girls5eva Season 2.

"We have at least eight," Richmond said.

The remaining four members of Girls5eva got a chance for a comeback when a rapper sampled their hit song. Girls5eva creator Meredith Scardino, 46, said she allowed Season 2 to include more music.

"Going in, I would always approach music as little snippets," Scardino said of Season 1. "In Season 2, we live a little bit more in musical moments within the body of the show."

Season 2 also will explore more genres than '90s music, Richmond said. Girls5eva attempts to record a new album, which allows them to dabble in modern musical styles.

"Now, we're looking into what they're going to create in 2022, which is them listening to Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa and Adele of today," Richmond said. "So we do get a fair amount of them exploring new styles."

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Just like Season 1 though, Richmond usually works on the songs until right before filming. Goldsberry said sometimes she is handed music and lyrics on the set.

"I actually love that," Goldsberry, 51, said. "My first instincts are probably better than after I've thought about it too much."

Pell, 59, said filming both seasons of Girls5eva during the COVID-19 pandemic also affected the recording process. In-person rehearsals were limited, so much of the preparation was remote.

"Since we've started the show, we've learned it online with files and sheet music and lyric sheets," Pell said. "When we get on set and we can actually sing it together, it is really exhilarating."

Phillips, 42, said sometimes Richmond will have a demo of the song Girls5eva will re-record.

"A lot of times it's like him singing as us," Phillips said. "It's not indicative of what the final product will be, but it's helpful."

Pell and Richmond also credited Bareilles for lending her experience as a recording artist to make Girls5eva more authentic. Pell said Bareilles will advise how microphones are positioned in the studio, and Richmond said she has improved many of the songs.

"Last year, there was a thing called 'The Lego Man' we had laid out," Richmond said. "She wanted to make it a 'Lego Lego Lego Man' because she thought it made it more musical to repeat the word Lego so many times."

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Recording a new album also demands more of Girls5eva. In the '90s, they sang the tracks the record label assigned them.

"I feel like album mode is maybe slightly more internal," Bareilles said. "It's less about 'here we are' and more like, 'Who are we?'"

Goldsberry, who played Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway company of Hamilton, said Girls5eva's album allows them to make a statement.

"Who are we and what do we have to say?" Goldsberry said. "Now that you've given us a microphone, what are we going to say?"

Richmond said the music Girls5eva writes also reflects a more sincere friendship than they had in the '90s. Richmond said the four surviving singers were "in the trenches" of Girls5eva together in the '90s and share that unique experience.

"Twenty years ago, they weren't even that close, but they were closer than even possibly they would know," Richmond said.

Scardino said the subtext of the '90s flashbacks is that the record label would pit the singers against each other to maintain control. She said writing a new album together helps the singers lift each other up.

"They're very supportive of each other and they call each other out on their shortcomings," Scardino said. "I see them as helping each other become better versions of themselves even if it's messy or painful to hear."

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All 8 episodes of Girls5eva Season 2 are available Thursday on Peacock.

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