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!
After a hiatus, we are back to give a tour of some of the audiovisual highlights of this past month in trailers, with a focus on those of a particularly musical persuasion.
Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother, 2016) returns with Piercing, a psychological thriller focusing on a night between call girl Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) and Reed (Christopher Abbott). Beyond the use of outsized sound effects such as the overloud ding of an elevator and the shuffle of footsteps to elevate the sense of intimacy in their complicated (to put it lightly) relationship, it’s the use of Verdi’s famous Brindisi (drinking song) from “La Traviata”, “Libiamo n’ lieti calici” in a perversely ironic way that takes the proverbial cake here. Watching Reed suffer as the celebratory music continues unabated is reminiscent of the famous “Stuck in the Middle With You” scene from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (with the addition of some potent hallucinogenic drugs, it would seem).
Move over, Lady Gaga — a new star is born. Her name is Celeste (Natalie Portman), and in Brady Corbet’s faux-biopic we see her – along with Raffey Cassidy a younger version of her character – singing one of Sia’s original tracks composed for the film, Wrapped Up. Like the original trailer for A Star is Born, narrative details are refreshingly scant; instead, we’re shown the power of music to transport us to a specific liminal space as we are whisking from a funeral setting to a full-blown concert spectacle. It’s simply cathartic.
A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Speaking of original songs, this new offering from the beloved studio Aardman (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run) features a tune we weren’t able to identify immediately, leading to speculation both here and on YouTube that this song – a four-on-the-floor, classic rock jam replete with lyrics – was created especially for this trailer and film. Also note the somewhat clever shift at 0:48 as the non-diegetic (soundtrack) musical saw is revealed to be, in fact, performed by one of the sheep in the film.
Brexit: The Uncivil War
While bespoke soundtracks, famous pieces, and star composers are often good ways of attracting attention, sometimes a soundtrack with basic competence that follows the action is what’s needed, and in this sense the trailer for Channel 4/HBO’s Brexit delivers. The trailer focuses on the demeanour and dialogue of Dominic Cummings (Benedict Cumberbatch), who was the campaign manager of Vote Leave since its beginnings in October 2015. The score builds and builds, layering on strings, doubling the tempo, and cresting at last in the grunt of an inevitable-sounding double bass motif, alternating between two notes in a menacing manner. The triptych form the narrative of this trailer takes used to be common, but since the popularization of trailerized songs and covers, has taken a back seat to a two-part form.
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!