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!
As usual, there were quite a few trailers and teasers to come out around the Super Bowl, but the highlight was almost definitely Disney’s latest live action foray, Mulan. In addition to regular synchronicity between the music and on screen action, the building epic music arrangement is both much more subtle and intricate than the usual superhero fare. Notice also the use of Chinese-sounding instrumentation, especially later in the trailer. The fact that Western orchestration is favoured doesn’t go unnoticed; however, Disney is balancing the subject matter and overall audience here, and well enough.
The High Note
Director Nisha Ganatra follows 2019’s Late Night with a film of a similar premise—this time, we’re following the career of one Grace Davis and the making of her mid-career revival, with starry-eyed assistant Maggie hoping to produce said record. The three musical numbers – two original songs from the film, and Alabama Shakes’ “Don’t Wanna Fight” – change between dramatic and comedic pauses, leaving the audience with a sense of the breadth that this feel-good film promises; the rhythmic funkiness of the second piece, for example, accurately mimic the complications that bubble up in the narrative. Notice also the subtle interplay between lyrics and onscreen narrative from time to time, such as when the last lyric before the music stops at 0:27 is—well—“stop”.
The French Dispatch
Long-time collaborator and composer Alexandre Desplat once again makes his musical mark here in the trailer for Wes Anderson’s latest, The French Dispatch. Among other things, one go-to vestige of Desplat’s style in the Anderson movies is his use of the harpsichord—a whimsical, neobaroque pop accoutrement that is as much out of time as it is timeless, much like Anderson’s unmistakeable visual and coloristic sensibilities. Ennio Morricone’s “L’ultime volta”, originally of the 60s spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West, also makes an appearance—its rollicking sentiment matching the series of narrative vignettes that closely follow. Lastly, perhaps it wouldn’t be an ostensibly “French” newspaper without an obligatory French track, and Christophe’s 1965 ballad “Aline” duly obliges.
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. Happy New Year and see you next month!