Central Park

Josh Gad on Crafting the Music of Central Park

Dept. of Chats and Confabs


Musicals are notoriously hard to pull off, but Central Park on Apple TV+ somehow manages to give us earworm after earworm, episode after episode, on a weekly basis. The songs in this series sparkle. Pulling off the impossible double duty of serving the narrative while still completely capable of standing on their own. It is weird. It is warm. It is the kind of joyous life-affirming content that the world needs right now. (Listen to our review of the first season on The Goggler Podcast.)


In the lead up to Season 2 of Central Park, we had the chance to speak to the show’s co-creator and star Josh Gad about just what it takes to craft hit after hit

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: Making a musical is hard enough, let alone trying to do one every week. TV hasn’t had a great track record on this front. I think My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was a great example of how to do it right, but you guys may have topped that with the sheer number of ear-worms in every episode. Talk to me about the rigor in that writer’s room when it comes to music and songwriting, because it feels like it has to be a really exacting process. 

Josh Gad: It’s such a great question and I so appreciate that. When we set out to do a musical, I said to my co-creators, Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith, that each song needs to feel earned, and each song needs to be something that feels like it’s as timeless as the stories were telling. Whether it’s “Weirdos Make Great Superheroes” from Season 1… 

UA: It’s a fantastic song!

JG: Thank you! We really set out to do that. In Season 2, we had a much harder task because you feel like once you’ve hit the mark with that expectation, that lofty expectation, how are you going to top yourself? And somehow, and in some way, in the middle of a massive pandemic, and working from home, I can safely say that all of us did just that. The songs in Season 2 are so exceptional that I go to sleep every night playing some of them to my girls – but really for myself – because they keep asking to listen to them over and over again.

I would credit our amazing musical team, including Frank Ciampi, Patrick Dacey, some of the incredible folks like Angelica Cox, who worked on it behind the scenes, and of course, Kate (Anderson) and Elyssa (Samsel), who are our in-house composers. We also just hit this enormous creative high point this year with Danny Elfman, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Big Boy, Wyclef Jean, and Shaggy. And the truth is, I don’t know how we’re going to top it again.

Central Park

UA: So how does it all come together?

JG: We’ll get the outlines for the scripts. And at that point, our writers will sort of tell us which moments they’re thinking of musically. And then we’ll sort of go into it, me along with the musical team, and sort of identify if those moments really are the best moments for music. And once we’ve done that, then we sort of think about who would be the ideal person to do this style of song, and who can do whatever the song really needs to accomplish.

I think in Season 1, it was a scramble to figure out what the hell we were even doing. But now, there’s a self assuredness that we sort of know what we’re looking for, and also this idea that we’re always looking to stylistically challenge ourselves. So we’ve introduced an element of country in Season 2. We’re looking for Latin flavored music now as well. I pitched the guys a K-Pop style song the other day. We’re always looking to challenge ourselves to explore not just content, but also new ways of doing music, and also new styles as well.

The first three episodes of Central Park, Season 2, drop on Apple TV+ on Friday, June 25. The show, co-created by Josh Gad, has already been renewed for a Season 3.

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