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!
Leading this month is certainly the trailer for Mank, director David Fincher’s biopic on the life of Herman J Mankiewicz, best known as the co-writer for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). The film’s (and trailer’s) score is headed up by frequent collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails fame, whose music has featured in a slew of high-profile films since 2010’s The Social Network. Here, a bed of strings breathes with masterful pacing that builds suspense and anxiety as lines of dialogue ceaselessly dovetail off each other in the latter half.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Yes, this is Chadwick Boseman’s final film—but it is also of course so much more. Viola Davis stars as Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, known was the “Mother of the Blues”. The trailer is centred around a June 1928 recording session for “Deep Moanin’ Blues”—it even gives us the set up of recording equipment and the dropping of the needle the first shot, before any studio title cards or anything else. Shots of the session in play are judiciously allocated between other scenes as an intermittent reminder that it’s all about the music, which is all Ma Rainey fought for.
Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm
With the polar opposite of seriousness on a scale with Mank on one end, Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm balances at the other. And within that, we find in its trailer a study in contrasts. Among the tracks featured in the first half (including a very astute cover of Eminem’s “Without Me“) is “Cruzando el Campo”, music by Fanfare Ciocarlia. The tracks are exactly the blend of generic Turkish, Romanian, and other Eastern European musical elements that the average Stateside viewer would probably associate with Sacha Baron Cohen’s walking pastiche from Kazakhstan. The other half of this very intentional abomination features probably the musical height of mundanity in C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” That is more than likely the point—there is so much of 2020 in need of satirizing and being brought down a few notches, that the timing is impeccable.
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!