Trailers are essentially the same format everytime. They start with a slow tease of facts and information, reveal the key themes of the story and then amaze the audience with quick snippets of scenes and action sequences to wet the appetite. That final montage is usually accompanied by a song, usually one from popular culture, which echoes the themes of the movies and gets the audience excited for seeing the film. Inspired by the recent Logan trailer, which uses Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” perfectly, here are ten examples, in no particular order, of other great uses of songs for trailers;
The Departed: “Comfortably Numb” – Van Morrison
The movie is about a power struggle, cat and mouse and very tense stand-offs between characters unsure of who to trust. Somehow, Van Morrison’s “Comfortably Numb” reflects this perfectly, managing to accompany the many different shouting scenes alongside the guns being pulled on each other and the stand-offs teased.
Limitless: “Power” – Kanye West
What a better song to go with a movie about a pill which gives you Limitless power than Kanye West’s “Power.” It has the same message as the movie while giving the trailer a up-tempo feel. The well-staged pauses manage to keep the heartbeat racing and interest piqued.
American Pie: “Laid” – James
It seems obvious now but a movie about sex sound-tracked by a song about the same subject is a match made in heaven. The slow guitar intro as the characters are introduced is nicely kicked up a notch once that comedy montage starts.
Fight Club: “Where is my Life?” – The Pixies
A movie that centers around confusion and a song called “Where is my Life?” The ultra-cool song partners with the trippy, often confusing images well to make an audience interested enough to give this dark and creepy movie their attention.
Pineapple Express: “Paper Planes” – MIA
It is the fun, strange and off-beat style of MIA’s hit which makes it such a comfortable fit for the stoner comedy. The gunshots which puncture the song also help in a movie which has a lot of misfired and mistimed gunshots.
Watchmen: “The End is the Beginning is The End” – Smashing Pumpkins
The haunting melody and strangely dark sound of Smashing Pumkins suits the amazing imagery in The Watchmen trailer. It manages to keep the tone and pace of the trailer slow while the action unfolds in an amazing way.
Guardians of the Galaxy: “Hooked on a Feeling” – Suede
The song is only used at the end of the first trailer, once the characters are all revealed, but it manages to capture the idea and tone of the Marvel movie perfectly. So perfectly in fact that it makes a welcome return for the sequel’s teaser trailer.
Trainspotting: “Lust for Life” – Iggy Pop
When Trainspotting hit the screens nobody was expecting it and nobody knew what was in store. The trailer does help to prepare, with Iggy Pop’s fast-paced song being narrated over by Ewan McGregor’s “Choose Life” monologue. It manages to capture the whole essence of the movie.
Deadpool: “X Gon Give to Ya” – DMX
Deadpool is part of Fox’s X-Men franchise (technically) so what better than to have DMX’s seminal hit soundtrack the violence and carnage as the crazed, self-aware anti-hero tears up the screen. Like Limitless, the pauses in the song for one-liner delivery is framed excellently.
Suicide Squad: “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
There were a couple of good song choices for the Suicide Squad campaign but few came as close as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The fact that the trailer’s events and action actually fit the music, from the quick paced cuts to the slower, more melodic dancing on-screen makes this fit even more successful and helped make the average movie such a success.
Overall, ten choices of great songs used to help sell their respective movies. There are plenty of other examples so if you want to let me know yours, I will get on with making a second article listing those too…