Our new music feature Origins sheds light on the latest tracks by providing insider information into their influences. Today, filmmaker Sean Baker discusses the cover of *NSync’s ’90s classic “Bye Bye Bye” featuring in his new movie, Red Rocket.
Red Rocket, the latest from filmmaker Sean Baker (The Florida Project), is a tale steeped in deluded nostalgia. Its main character, perfectly cast with former MTV VJ Simon Rex in the role, longs for the glory days of his once fruitful porn career in the early ’00s. To capture that misdirected wistfulness for that golden era of The American Hustle, Baker turns the *NSync classic “Bye Bye Bye” into something of a motif throughout the film.
But it’s not just Justin Timberlake and the boys singing the 2000 pop smash: The film’s other star, newcomer Suzanna Son, contributed a cover to the soundtrack. Even that’s not what you might expect though, as instead of turning it into a modern hyperpop jam, Son slows it down to solemn piano ballad.
Son captures some of the desperation of the original, but soulfully sung over the heavy piano notes, the track loses its sugary sweetness. Instead, we’re left with an acidic indictment of the past, a shift that’s both a bit haunting and, yeah, kind of funny.
That makes it a perfect reflection of Red Rocket, as Baker himself explains in the Origins of the cover. Take a listen to Son’s take on *NSync’s “Bye Bye Bye” below, followed by the writer-director’s insights on the track.
Having premiered at Cannes and won the Prix du Jury and Critic’s Award at Deauville, Red Rocket will hit theaters on December 10th via A24.