Trailers use slower, more moody new versions of classic songs to grab viewers

The higher the intensity of a trailer, the slower the accompanying song. It might sound fairly new as a reliable rule, but it’s not a completely new phenomenon. What goes back at least to the 2001 trailer for the first iteration of the apocalyptic warfare video game Gears of War on Xbox 360 – with Gary Jules delivering a heart-wrenching cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” – is a visual contrast. -auditive which is now common practice.

More recent examples of the trend include FJØRA’s echo on the perennial 4 Non Blondes “What’s Up?” in the terrifying trailer for ‘Welcome to the Blumhouse’ from 2020; The spooky version of Lana Del Rey’s “Once Upon a Dream”, from the classic Disney animated film “Sleeping Beauty,” in the 2014 “Maleficent” trailer; and ConfidentialMX featuring Becky Hanson’s lyrical rendition of the Bee Gees’ “I Started a Joke” in the dark trailer for 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” All have shown that the formula allows viewers to buy tickets cinema and streaming services.

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“This is what I call the phenomenon of comfortable old shoes,” says Jonathan McHugh, Music Supervisor, Director and founding member of the Guild of Music Supervisors. “You give people something familiar, like Destiny Child’s ‘Say My Name’ in the new ‘Candyman,’ and all of a sudden they’re more engaged in the content and predisposed to enjoy what they’re watching. because they like the song. “

According to Brian Monaco, president and global marketing director at Sony Music Publishing, “It’s called ‘towing’ a song. It means changing every aspect of the song but leaving the lyrics behind. People know the lyrics. The point is to get people’s attention. Maybe they don’t pay that much attention to the trailer, and they start to hear the chorus of the song, and they say, “Wait, I know this song.” They start to pay attention, and now they’re watching the trailer. At Sony and in its writing camps four times a year, Monaco has teams of writers working on reimagined versions of the catalogs of legendary artists. He’s completely reworked ELO’s discography, remade a lot of the Beatles songs and is now tackling Paul Simon’s newly acquired big songbook.

At Sony, and in its writing camps four times a year, Monaco has teams of writers working on reimagined versions of entire catalogs of legendary artists. He’s completely reworked ELO’s discography, remade a lot of the Beatles songs, and now he’s tackling Paul Simon’s new songbook.

The “writing exercise,” as Monaco calls it, is beneficial for everyone. Newer artists performing covers are paid (and at a fraction of what the original masters would order, provided they were licensed, but still a good salary for their level). At the same time, these artists are gaining visibility on high-profile trailers for mass appeal films. Writers, many of whom are or were performing musicians, are also paid without having to worry about attracting or alienating their fan base. Heritage artists whose songs are re-recorded see their streaming numbers increase. And, of course, the publishing house is reaping the rewards of all of the above.

“In a two-minute trailer, people assess whether or not they want to see the movie,” says McHugh. “It’s about manipulating the viewer’s emotions with provocative music while showing the action and getting the message across. The audience who know a song will remember it, and the younger ones will say, “I discovered this. “

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Grace D. Erickson

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