“Everybody is kung fu fighting”–again. A neo-funk/electronica cover of the disco era classic “Kung Fu Fighting” performed by Gnarls Barkley member CeeLo Green and actor/rocker Jack Black is the first single from the original motion picture soundtrack for Kung Fu Panda, an animated comedy starring the voice of Black. Interscope Records will release the soundtrack album–which also features the score by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer and John Powell–on June 3, preceding the film’s nationwide release from DreamWorks Animation on June 6.
The hip new remake of “Kung Fu Fighting,” with all new lyrics, was produced by The Underdogs, whose credits include Chris Brown, Marques Houston, and Beyoncé. The original recording, written and performed by Carl Douglas, shot to #1 in both the U.K. and U.S. (1974). The soundtrack’s single will be available for sale May 27 on iTunes and everywhere digital songs are sold.
“A fan of the song first, it was inspiring and an honor to have the opportunity to reintroduce the record to a brand new audience sprinkled with a little of me on top,” says a smiling CeeLo.
CeeLo and Danger Mouse comprise the duo Gnarls Barkley, whose recently released The Odd Couple album follows 2006’s two-time Grammy-winning, #1 Pop and #1 R&B/Hip-hop St. Elsewhere.
Co-composers Zimmer and Powell provide the beautifully arranged original score music. Kung Fu Panda marks the first collaboration for Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Zimmer (The Lion King) and Powell (Shrek) since DreamWorks’ animated The Road To El Dorado in 2000.
“Using as our inspiration classic kung fu films, this score was an opportunity to write something truly epic again, which we don’t get a chance to do that often,” states Zimmer. “The music had to reflect the fabulous precision and magnificent action pieces depicted in the film, and we used a large-scale orchestra incorporating a good deal of percussion, Chinese drums and other ethnic instruments to create the various themes.”
Zimmer is one of the film industry’s most respected and sought-after composers, with a career encompassing well over 100 film and television scores. Zimmer won an Academy Award for his score for The Lion King, and has earned six additional Oscar nominations for his work on Gladiator, The Thin Red Line, Rain Man, As Good As It Gets, The Preacher’s Wife and The Prince Of Egypt. His more recent film credits include Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End and The Simpsons Movie.
Powell is the recipient of two Ivor Novello Awards for “Best Original Film Score” from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for Shrek in 2001, and Ice Age: The Meltdown in 2006. He also scored Happy Feet, winner of the Academy Award for “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” in 2006. Powell has also scored other animated films, including Chicken Run, Antz, Robots, and Horton Hears A Who, as well as the live action Bourne trilogy. Currently, he is scoring Hancock.
John Powell adds, “It was a great opportunity to have a play date with Hans again after all these years. We had missed the chance to collaborate and this was the perfect film to try out all the ideas we had been talking about.”
Kung Fu Panda, which features the voices of Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, and Ian McShane, tells the tale of a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, Po (voiced by Black), who must somehow become a kung fu master in order to save the Valley of Peace from a villainous snow leopard, Tai Lung. In the legendary world of ancient China, our unlikely hero enters the rigid world of kung fu and turns it upside down. Po ultimately becomes a kung fu hero by learning that if he believes in himself, he can do anything.
Kung Fu Panda was directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, produced by Melissa Cobb, and co-produced/written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.