“A Beautiful Game”: How the ‘Ted Lasso’ Song Scored a Goal — With a Lyrical Assist From Jason Sudeikis
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‘Ted Lesso’ earned 21 Emmy nominations, including two for outstanding original music and lyrics and one for outstanding music supervision.
August 23, 2023 9:45am
It all started with music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux’s dream of working with pop music maestro Max Martin for an originalTed Lassosong — and ended with an emotional tearjerker that was so good Jason Sudeikis wrote a specific scene for the tune in the season three finale of the Apple TV+ comedy. Sudeikis even had a tiny role in changing one of the song’s lyrics (more on that later).
This is the story behind Ted Lasso‘s Emmy-nominated track “A Beautiful Game,” performed by Ed Sheeran and written by Sheeran, Martin and Foy Vance.
A SONG IS BORN
When Von Pervieux received the go-ahead from Ted Lasso producers to pursue an original song by Martin for the series, he had to pitch the five-time Grammy-winning producer, who has launched 25 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “He has always been one of the best producers of all time. Everything he touches turns to gold,” Von Pervieux tells THR.
Martin is one of contemporary music’s most prolific producers, the force behind many pop hits from the late ’90s and early 2000s, from Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” to Britney Spears’ “… Baby One More Time.” He then created classic anthems for Kelly Clarkson, Pink and Katy Perry, and has spent the past decade topping the charts with Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Adele, Ariana Grande and Justin Timberlake, with whom he shared an Oscar nomination for the 2016 hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls.
Luckily for Von Pervieux, Martin was a Ted Lasso fan. “Right then and there, we were like, ‘Yes, that helps. The first box is checked,’ ” Von Pervieux says.
Because Martin prefers to write with an artist in mind, Ed Sheeran’s name came up. “Not much longer after that meeting, his team got back to us and said, ‘Ed is one of the biggest fans of [Ted Lasso]. He’s absolutely in love with the show,’ ” says Von Pervieux. “Box two checked!”
Added to the mix was Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance, who has co-written several of Sheeran’s songs, including “Galway Girl” and “Tenerife Sea.” And they were ready to score a goal.
TEAMWORK IS DREAMWORK
Von Pervieux offered notes on what he hoped the song could convey: Create an anthem that starts small and builds into a climactic moment — something like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“We were laughing our asses off for a good time,” co-writer Vance admits. “I was like, ‘Write a modern-day “Bohemian Rhapsody”? OK, well, let me just finish this sandwich and then I’ll crack on with that, shall I?’ We knew that they were aiming high. I’ve never seen that in a brief before in my life. I thought it was incredible.”
Von Pervieux recalls being more loose with his suggestion: “Obviously, you guys don’t have to write a Queen song, but can you do something close? Something in the way their songs make you feel?”
Vance says they didn’t attempt that, instead focusing on a more typical approach to songwriting. “It’s not like we sat down and had a big discussion or had a whiteboard out,” he says. “There was none of that. We just started writing — got the guitars out [and] started going.”
After setting aside two days to work on the track, the trio wrote most of it in the “first 20, 25 minutes,” Vance recalls.
Von Pervieux admits it wasn’t what he anticipated: “We heard the demo and [were] like, ‘OK, this is not the Queen-type song, [it’s] more of a love-type anthem, a beautiful ballad-y anthem,’ ” he says before adding that the song exceeded his expectations. “We were just almost in tears because it was very emotional.”
SUDEIKIS THE SCREENWRITER (AND SONGWRITER)
Now that the song was close to complete, where would it land in the series?
“We had no clue,” recalls Von Pervieux. “There was no way of knowing until Jason [could] sit down and properly see if this worked.”
But Sudeikis loved the song — so much so, he wrote a scene for it. “It’s an anthem, so it’s not a song that we can use in other scenes — it has to be very specific to the show,” says Von Pervieux, noting that it worked perfectly with the finale’s final moments. But Sudeikis didn’t stop there. He also had a suggestion about a lyric in the track.
“Jason’s only request upon hearing the song was a very subtle one — he asked if they would be willing to change ‘The Beautiful Game’ to ‘A Beautiful Game,’” co-executive producer Kip Kroeger tells THR. “It came from a place of humility that had guided him, the writers and the creative team throughout the run of the show, that we all had such respect for the game of football, and ‘A’ felt subtly more deferential and earnest to the sport of football than ‘The,’ in keeping with the tone and intention of the show. We were really appreciative that they got where we were coming from and were cool with the change.”
The final result helped close the third season of the series with passion and emotion.
“Of course everything starts with great scripts and great writing, but try it without music and see where things land,” says Marty Silverstone, president of global sync for Primary Wave Music, who worked closely with Von Pervieux on commissioning the original song.
Several songs from Primary Wave Music’s catalog, from Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” to The Cranberries’ “Dreams,” landed in the series. “[Ted Lasso] is a great example of a show that really made great use of music across the board,” adds Silverstone. “[There are] lots of interesting pop culture and music references throughout that really bring it home.”
Von Pervieux intended to create only one original song for Ted Lasso, but he ended up with two, and now both are Emmy-nominated for outstanding original music and lyrics.
After he started working on “A Beautiful Game,” he spoke with English songwriter Jamie Hartman, who took on Von Pervieux’s idea of building “a Queen-type song” and crafted “Lost & Found,” which plays in the season’s penultimate episode. It was written with Tom Howe and Sam Ryder, who sings on the track.
“They played it for me in the car and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” Von Pervieux recalls. “It was one of those inspiring-type songs, Queen-esque, because [of Sam’s] vocals. His vocals are very powerful.”
The music nominations don’t end with those songs, as Von Pervieux is also up for outstanding music supervision, a nod he shares with Christa Miller.
“It’s pretty cool to see how, from the beginning to the middle to the end, these two [songs] came into season three and landed in the final [two] episodes as such strong moments. It’s really inspiring,” he says. “Now we can see these songs get their day in the sunshine.”
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.