Craig McCracken’s Wander Over Yonder is one of the most visually inventive animated series on television; oftentimes redefining what you’d imagine is possible in 11-minute episodes about a laid-back space traveler, Wander (played by the unflappably sunny Jack McBrayer) and his trusty steed Sylvia (April Winchell).
Tonight’s episode of the series, entitled “My Fair Hatey,” might be its most ambitious yet: It’s a special half-hour musical episode devoted to skeletal emperor, Lord Hater (Keith Ferguson), asking out this season’s big bad Lord Dominator (Noel Wells). It’s totally amazing and pushes the series’ prog rock album cover-visual aesthetic to truly insane levels. As awesome as it sounds on paper, it’s even better in actuality.
We were lucky enough to chat with composer Andy Bean—who created the music for this incredible episode—and we get to debut an exclusive clip, which takes place at the very beginning of the episode and really sets the tone for this special.
When did you first talk with Craig and the others about doing a musical episode?
We have a main character who frequently bursts into song, so songs have been an important part of Wander Over Yonder since day one. We began talking about a musical episode as soon as the show was picked up for a second season.
Was this something you had always wanted to do?
My music career pre-Wander consisted primarily of driving around the country with my duo, The Two Man Gentlemen Band, playing novelty songs for small audiences. I may have occasionally daydreamed about writing a musical. But, the idea of actually getting to make one seemed so far-fetched, that I never lingered on the thought.
Were there any Disney musicals you specifically looked to when creating the episode?
I love the Sherman Brothers’ Disney musicals, especially Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. It’s a tricky task to write tunes that can both stand on their own as great songs and also work seamlessly within the context of a story. The Sherman Brothers were masters of that. We tried to emulate their process by having me attend all of the initial story meetings for the episode. So the song ideas and story were developed simultaneously.
What is your favorite song in the episode?
Lord Hater (played by Keith Ferguson) sings an over-the-top four-minute epic called “You’re The Greatest” that jumps back and forth between a classic Hollywood show tune and a romping Meatloaf-esque power ballad. Keith nailed it on the first or second take. Watching him record his vocals for this song was one of the happiest moments of my musical life. It captures Lord Hater in all of his absurd, charming, lovable, ridiculousness.
Would you like to do another musical episode?
I’d love to! Maybe something with princesses and ice-powers. Has anyone done one like that?
And remember: Wander Over Yonder’s super-sized, super-amazing musical episode airs tonight on Disney XD, at 9 p.m. EST.