Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow’s Grammy win for best musical theater album for “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” marks the first award from the Recording Academy to go to a project that originated on TikTok.
Bear and Barlow beat out Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cinderella,” the cast recording of “Girl from the North Country,” “Les Misérables: The Staged Concert” and “Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving Broadway shuttered for much of the past 18 months, Bear and Barlow’s “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” went viral thanks to TikTok.
Inspired by the poetic dialogue and fantastical world of the Netflix series “Bridgerton,” Barlow says she began writing songs from the main character’s perspective. The first tease, “Daphne’s Song,” was posted to TikTok after the series debuted. A simple piano ballad, the song explores Daphne’s emotions when she begins to fall for Simon amid their faux romance.
During her speech, Barlow thanked the internet. She said, “A year ago when I asked the internet, ‘What if ‘Bridgerton’ was a musical?’ I could not have imagined we would be holding a Grammy in our hands. We want to thank everyone on the internet who has watched us create this album from the ground up, we share this with you.”
What began as an escape from a difficult year soon catapulted the duo into a viral sensation: “Daphne’s Song” has racked up more than 2.3 million views, while the follow-up, “Burn for You,” has more than 5.3 million views.
The duo used the platform to fully engage with fans, enabling them to interact and be a part of the creative process. “Abigail and I have seen the power of TikTok for years, and decided to invite fans to watch our writing sessions in real time and give their suggestions on the creation of the ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,’ ” Bear says. Barlow adds: “The immense success of this project was definitely in the fans’ hands. They made this project soar by supporting two young women with a crazy dream and watching their journey every step of the way.” More than 15 songs were put together for the album.
As women composers continue to fight for visibility and equality, Bear took a moment to acknowledge the importance of her win in her acceptance speech, saying “This is really for all of my fellow female producers, composers, engineers that are still struggling to gain recognition and support for what we do. It’s not that we don’t exist, we do.”