I love movie trailers. Many people do, I would think, because nobody has sufficiently protested the fact that they add an extra half-hour to the movie’s runtime. I often yearn to guess the movie’s title before it is revealed at the end (or before a character blurts it out halfway through), and when I realize that it is the new Batman movie or the new Frank Miller-directed adaptation of Waiting For Godot it takes everything I have not to jump up in my seat and proclaim that I had no idea they were doing Godot again and I will be very excited to see it now.
If you like to identify what a movie is about before substantial dialogue has taken place, like I do, you may use music to your advantage. Many of the people who put together trailers often use the same licensed songs; furthermore, many of the same songs pop up in similar movie trailers. Therefore, if you hear a song that was used in a Kevin James movie about a loveable slob who tries to adapt to a potentially challenging new situation, you may assume the trailer you are watching will be about… adapting to a potentially challenging new situation.
I have assembled some songs that trailers have used extensively for some time, and some songs that are just starting to gain popularity in the trailer market. I have also organized it like a more specific Exquisite Corpse game. That way,all you have to do is hit the print screen key, take this with you to the movies, and then fill in the blanks if you hear one of these songs in a trailer. Or you could play this game with your significant other and see how close your partner can get to making the next John Huston/Uwe Boll masterpiece!
This article also embeds a film trailer that utilizes the particular song in question, and I provide two songs the corporation could have used instead: one that isless conventional but more appropriate, and one that would have made the whole trailer really funny. To test it out, mute the clip and then play the song. I have resisted the urge to make all the funny songs selections from 1920s silent movies, though it would have been humorous to see Steve Carell flap his mouth for twenty seconds and then roll out of a car to the tune of “Maple Leaf Rag.”
1. Natalie Cole – “This Will Be” (1975)
Two very honest people from different [socioeconomic/ethnic/cultural/marital] backgrounds fall in love. One of them has commitment issues. The other is either rigidly normal or has [titillating noun] issues. The couple’s respective [parents/friends/spiritual advisors] meet and find they have nothing in common with each other. This makes them mad. The [adjective] parent tries to break the relationship up. If there is a wedding, the crazy aunt with [adjective] hair tries to eat all the cake but instead [verb] everywhere. The male lead’s friend was the guy from that [ABC drama] show, and you think that unfortunately he is probably more of a television actor than a film actor. The respective [parents/friends/spiritual advisors] will fight and topple [number] expensive ice sculptures. Eventually everybody reconciles and realizes that it’s okay to be different.
More appropriate song – “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie
It’s Afro-Cuban, so that’s really reconciliatory between Ferrera and Gross, isn’t it?
More humorous song – “Graham Greene” by John Cale
Nothing says “I love you” better than a song about the man who said Shirley Temple had all the “dubious coquetry” of a sex object in Wee Willie Winkie.
2. Kanye West – “Power”(2010)
A man in his [early/mid/late] twenties is poor. Then he’s rich. This is because he engages in [illegal activity]. Or perhaps it is because his wealthy aunt, played by [actress on an episode of Masterpiece Theatre] in a startling comeback role, dies and leave him an inheritance. The man is not used to his new station, and sleeps with many women. One woman is [hair color] and has a [animal] fur coat. One woman is [different hair color] and looks a bit like [actress who you either had a crush on or who you wanted to look like when you were 15], but it’s not, unfortunately. One woman is [same hair color as the first one] and the protagonist sleeps with her under a [artist featured in a coffee table book you have] painting, then sleeps with another woman under a Willem de Kooning painting just to be ironic. The camera’s foggy. That’s because there’s a lot of sex happening in this movie. One woman is [hair color that hasn't been mentioned yet] and when she leans her head back and groans in ecstasy you notice she’s only missing [number] teeth. A traffic light turns [color that rhymes with “spleen”]. A gun is fired. Somebody is mad that America is a capitalist society. This movie is going to be [adverb] awesome.
More appropriate song – “Gary’s Got A Boner” by The Replacements
More humorous song – “If I Had $1000000” by Barenaked Ladies
See, he bought the fur coat for her before he slept with her – but not a real fur coat; that’s cruel.
3. Clint Mansell – “Lux Aeterna”(2001)
Something must be terribly arresting, because everybody is looking up at the sky or off into the distance at some unseen object. Furthermore, they’re standing in the [uncomfortable or irritating weather condition] staring at it, and you know you’d never do that in the [same weather condition] unless it were absolutely riveting. It must be unsettling, too, because a total of [0/x=y if x is any number] people are smiling in this trailer. Finally, the thing appears, and it’s [your nightmare that scared you so much when you were seven that you had to sleep in your parents’ bed]. There are [number] explosions and [number] cymbal rolls. The woman from [Kung Fu movie everybody saw] is trapped in a [situation no sane person would ever find himself or herself in]. There are [number] Dutch angles, which is close to how many there were in 5 minutes of Battlefield Earth, but not quite. [Number] people die, and that’s just in the trailer. Half the people in the theater either have never seen Requiem For A Dreamor have heard that this song plays when Jared Leto pushes a TV across Coney Island, and the other half have seen the movie and desperately try to forget about it.
More appropriate song – anything else
Just something that doesn’t remind me that RequiemFor A Dream ever existed.
More humorous song –“Magic Dance” by David Bowie
Actually, if this had played in the final sequence of Requiem I might have suffered severe mental trauma.
If it is from Concerto no. 1: Spring This movie stars Eddie Murphy in at least six different roles.
If it is from Concerto no.4: Winter This is a film you’ve never heard about, but it has somehow won the grand prize at [all the film festivals you can name]. The film is set in [European country], and is in subtitles unless it is set in England, where of course subtitles still may be needed. If it is a British or American film everyone will speak in British accents no matter the setting of the narrative. That is irrevocable. [Actress who played the aforementioned aunt in the Kanye West movie] is in this. Surprise. It is set in the [number that comes before 20 but after 18]th century, a time that most of us, save [stock celebrity for “old person” jokes], cannot remember. There is some fog. If there is a wedding, the crazy aunt with [adjective] hair tries to eat all the cake but instead [verb] everywhere. The Huffington Post says, “[what you said to your significant other when he/she read the poem he/she had been working so hard on for a week].”
More appropriate song – “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77: III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace – Poco più presto” by Johannes Brahms MP3
It’s the 19th century, not the 18th. And this composition sounds great in other movies. Take it from There Will Be Blood.
More humorous song – “How Fucking Romantic” by The Magnetic Fields.
5. Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks”(2009)
This movie wants to appeal to younger audiences. It wants to appeal to men. It wants to appeal to the indie culture. However, it is a romantic comedy, so it has its work cut out for it. Thankfully, it casts [male actor you regularly fantasize about if you are a woman under 30] and [female actress you regularly fantasize about if you are a man under 30]. It does not cast Zooey Deschanel, however, because if it did the trailer would feature [any of the other 11 tracks on Veckatimest] instead. It is a heartfelt film, with lots of [nouns], [nouns], and even some beautifully technical [gerund] that you’ll want to try to replicate at home with your partner after you two finish watching the movie.
Fun fact! Ryan Gosling was in another movie, Blue Valentine, which featured an entire score by Grizzly Bear.
Fun fact!I will see any Emma Stone movie, no matter how bad it is. It’s a matter of principle.
More appropriate song – “This Will Be” by Natalie Cole