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!
Featuring the unusual pairing of Ray Romano and Hugh Jackman and based on a true story, Bad Education witnesses the slow and debilitating unravelling of a Long Island school superintendent’s money laundering scheme. High-spirited clapped baroque music gets cut short at the 0:27 mark as the first suspicion unfurls; the ticking of the office clock is suddenly imbued with an aura of tension. Deep Purple’s 1968 track “Hush” follows, its sequential chord progressions stylishly synchronized with the title cards. These two musical selections held in contrast effectively convey both Jackman’s ruse and his inner character.
The latest from Greg Daniels (credits with SNL, The Simpsons, The Office, and many others) leverages the slightly unnerving, monotonous-yet-catchy, out-of-time feel of Talking Heads’ 1980 hit “Once In A Lifetime” to help deliver intrigue for the trailer’s pitch. Daniels here comedically grapples with the circumstances of a digital afterlife, subverting natural death—uploading one’s conscious to the Internet, in essence. The subtle but important arranging decision to use the track’s stems or recreations thereof, align the lyrical selections with the on-screen action. Ending with the lyric “once in a lifetime,” in particular, is evocative of the kinds of moral and ethical questions this comedy series is sure to delve into at some point, bringing to mind the similarly comedic yet deeply philosophical series The Good Place.
By way of Alan Yang (Master of None) comes this intergenerational and cultural drama on Netflix. The musical selections here seem particularly well-considered: “Heartbreaker” by Yao Su Rong is a late-60s hit by one of Taiwan’s first pop stars; the film deals with a Taiwanese factory worker leaving home for the promise of an ostensibly better life in the US, and is now watching his daughter go through similar struggles. If the Yao Su Rong track represents Grover’s past, then the 2017 track “Love Peas” by College (featuring Hama), may represent the present of Grover’s daughter, Angela. It’s a simple but well-considered juxtaposition of backing tracks that are played relatively uninterrupted and in sequence, underscoring the core father-daughter dynamic in this drama.
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.
We offer these observations in the hope that our readers can find some distraction in this turbulent time through music and movies. Perhaps the music of the trailers we have reviewed will lead you on a virtual journey of discovery into its sources, which could open further worlds of sound to you.
See you next month!