In This Month in Trailer Music, the team at Canada-based research project Trailaurality takes a look at the musical highlights of the past month’s film and TV trailer drops. Be sure to also check out the detailed breakdowns on their website!
Too often, trailers give away all of the best moments. Not so when it comes to the new Margot Robbie film, Terminal. At best, one could possibly recognize the tune of the classic Irish folk song “Danny Boy” whistled creepily at the end of the trailer; it’s somewhat reminiscent of the whistling in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and both films feature a femme fatale-type character. However, that’s really the extent to which one can discern what’s happening here; if anything, more trailers could use this kind of treatment.
Possibly the most high-profile release of the month, the latest installment in the expanded Harry Potter / Wizarding World universe, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was most notable for the debut of “young Dumbledore” (Jude Law). However, for us, the highlight was definitely the brief and almost innocuous musical quotation of Hedwig’s Theme near the end, at 1:46. Rhythmically augmented (slowed down) and given an epic coat of musical paint, only on the final note do we hear it played by the glockenspiel, as it originally was. It reminds us, in more than a few ways, of the way the trailer scores for Star Wars spin-offs Solo and Rogue One were handled – as something that retains and develops its own identity while also giving a respectful nod to the broader franchise from which it originates.
Finally, arguably of most obvious interest for trailer music aficionados, this month’s trailer for the second season of HBO’s hit drama Westworld gave us a fascinating cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” from series composer Ramin Djawadi. Thematically perfect in terms of lyrics (which aren’t used here, but for music fans of a certain age they are reminded of them), the tone of the original grunge song is retained while being given a fresh veneer of epic orchestration. The mostly-cohesive approach in allowing the music to play through the length of the trailer unabated reminds us of last year’s Logan teaser, which took a thematically similar tune in the Johnny Cash cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” and let the music dictate the visual cut.
These are just a few of what we felt were the most interesting and / or attention-grabbing trailers released in the past month or so, especially in terms of their music and sound. Have a suggestion on what we should look at next time? Follow us @trailaurality and visit our weekly blog at trailaurality.com for even more analysis and discussion. See you next month!