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!
Rather than an individual trailer, we wanted to start by taking a moment to pay attention to Quibi’s launch, and in particular the creative constraints that a trailer for a series comprising fewer than ten minutes per episode might entail. So far—and there’s room for argument here—one might surmise that less is not always better. While a series such as The Shape of Pasta (trailer above) obviously isn’t Game of Thrones, and never pretended to be, it’s obvious that Quibi occupies a challenging space where they are competing not only for streaming service dollars, but also for time and attention with social media platforms. What’s interesting about these trailers as a result is that they embody informatively generic approaches in their use of music. For example, clapping, cymbal flourishes, ukulele, and gentle strings fill the space in the above trailer for The Shape of Pasta in an aggressively harmless way, and that editing strategy is observable across the trailers for the service.
The Midnight Gospel
Jonathan Palmer and Aldous Finch’s 2019 shoegaze track “Flying So High Above It All” featured in this trailer for The Midnight Gospel, Pendleton Ward’s follow up to Adventure Time and a fascinating collaboration with Duncan Trussell. Conversational excerpts, which consist of wide-ranging conversations on spirituality from Trussell’s pre-existing podcast, form the spine of each episode; the visual element paired with it is often completely disparate and yet not entirely incongruous, lending itself well to repeated viewing. This sort of liminal experience is represented well in the music’s spaciousness, whose late 1980s / early 1990s aesthetic vintage would also likely appeal to the show’s target audience of young to middle-aged adult viewers.
Valley Girl (2020)
Musicals almost always have musically fascinating trailers by their nature, and this remake of 1983’s Valley Girl is no different. The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” and A-ha’s “Take On Me” both receive cover versions that, just like the film, artfully toe the line between faithful recreation and fresh vision; for example, the jangly, sparkling guitar that opens “Take On Me” in the trailer is both entirely new and instantly familiar, as if The Smiths were to have plausibly covered the song in an alternate past. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and by the definition of considering something as one remembers it as opposed to how it really was, the music in this trailer plays into that sensibility wonderfully.
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!