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Doing bits: How Love Island became the most important TV show in music

Doing bits: How Love Island became the most important TV show in music
31 Jul
6:06

And so it’s all over for another year.

That’s right, the Love Island final is done, with the country still reeling – or mostly revelling in – Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer’s victory. The affable pair won out after their fledgling romance captivated the hearts and minds of a record number of viewers – 3 million people have been tuning in, ITV2’s biggest ever audience.

Those stats and, more pertinently, the relationship gossip drummed up by this year’s cast have been the subject of much discussion just about everywhere for the past eight weeks and 56 episodes. But in the music industry, Love Island chat has taken on a distinctly different complexion.

It started back in winter, when Ministry Of Sound and, in turn, Sony Music UK cosied up to the Mallorca-set show and its sync potential. Ministry Of Sound elected to release the official soundtrack, with Sony giving series producers the chance to request specific covers for the 3CD set by its emerging acts. Hailey Tuck’s version of Bananaram’s Cruel Summer went down a storm. Indeed the collection hit No.1 and was only dislodged by Now’s record-breaking 100th edition.

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Subscribers can read more about that in the new issue of Music Week, where we investigate how and why Love Island has become such a big deal in the world of sync. From Deaf Havana to Tom Walker, it has showcased a vast array of music to Shazam-hungry audience. Somehow, songs seem more powerful when set to unfeasibly tense relationship drama.

Alongside a group of sync experts, we quizzed Love Island’s producers about what makes the show tick when it comes to music.

What follows is an extract from our conversation with Stephen Yemoh, who took time out during a busy shift as the show raced towards last night’s conclusion…

What is the Love Island daily routine like?

We essentially have 24-36 hours to make the show. We have 12 edit suites running day and night cutting different stories from the villa, those then come to the edit and our team. It’s our job to cut all the stories down and add music where appropriate then put the show together. We’re about a mile away from the villa where we have a production village. It’s a load of cabins in a concrete factory basically, but it feels homely. We’ve renamed it Charlie’s, rather than a chocolate factory we’ve got a concrete factory! 

What’s the approach when it comes to music?

A couple of years ago when we first started we were looking for cool, newish tracks, but also we decided to put in some our favourite tracks to take the piss out of scenes a bit and have fun with the music. Then from series two we discovered our own theme. Stripped back versions and covers have become synonymous with Love Island. Or covers of tunes that you might not think are cool, but someone’s put a different take on it and it becomes cool. Also new music in general, we use artists that aren’t particularly mainstream necessarily because we enjoy them, we will go back to them. A lot of viewers have noticed the same artists throughout the series.

When a show has got a good soundtrack, artists want to be associated with it

Stephen Yemoh, ITV

So it’s not about trends, then?

We’re not necessarily about using something current and in the charts. If it’s a good track and it’s on the up, if it’s an album track and it suits a scene then we just put it on, there’s no, ‘It has to be from the last six months or three months’. It’s just good tracks basically. New takes on old songs is something we spend a lot of time researching.

Have you any favourite musical moments from this series?

I Can’t Make You Love Me, it was used on Laura’s second break up. We put some Ludovico Einaudi on some early scenes, that’s the great thing about this show, you can go from a chart track to some classical inspired stuff, which is great and helps build the drama.

How has the music industry reaction been? It feels like labels, publishers and artists are taking Love Island very seriously…

Record companies have been really great with us this year, some of the sync teams have been really good, emailing me with new tracks all the time and telling me how much it’s promoting their new artists. Musicians have tended to be quite cool, to be associated with reality shows has been not necessarily a cool thing to be doing, but now artists are going, ‘Look, my track’s on Love Island, that’s really great’. When we’re being mentioned we’re thinking, ‘Wow!’

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What do you put that down to?

The show is going bigger and bigger, people have started to enjoy it more. The music is one of the reasons they think it’s OK to watch and cool to enjoy. It’s not just a load of people copping off with each other, it’s a really well made and produced show and the music is part of that. Once you’ve noticed that a show has got a good soundtrack, you want to be associated with it. Made in Chelsea changed things for reality TV, it has a definitive and brilliant soundtrack and made it more acceptable for artists to say, ‘We’re featuring on this TV show’. We’ve tried to go down a similar route and really think about music, not just going straight to the Top 40. Go deeper; there are no massive secrets.

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The Music Week Sync Awards 2018 are coming up, don’t miss your last chance to enter. The deadline passes on August 2! Find out everything you need to know here.

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