Music is a key component of a great movie trailer and having a unique song that perfectly matches the images can take a simple trailer and turn it into an amazing short film. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a song that is overused like any of the 5 below can quickly turn a trailer into a generic, annoying mess. I should mention that I’m not saying any of these songs are bad, they have just lost any meaning or impact they had from the first time they were used in a trailer.
5. “How You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy
This song debuted in 2009 on The Heavy’s “The House that Dirt Built” album and by the next year, there was at least half a dozen trailer using the song, the ones that jump to mind are Horrible Bosses and Faster. It does get points for being able to be used in both comedies and action movies but that flexibility also means that it reached the point of saturation much quicker than it normally would.
4. “Power” by Kanye West
Coming off the “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” album, Power quickly became a trailer favorite because it starts out fun and light but quickly gets heavy and serious so you can base your trailer around that. “See how much fun our main character is having? Wait till shit gets real!” It was so widely used that video game site Giant Bomb realized that it could be potentially put under any trailer and it would work.
3. No Church in the Wild by Jay-Z (feat. Kanye West)
It was a debate about 4 and 3 because they are both used for sort of the same feel, general bad-assery, but No Church in the Wild was then used in The Great Gatsby trailer and car commercials and definitively jumped the shark. The first excellent use of it was for the Safe House trailer and it perfectly matched the action but then marketing teams realized that the song made everything seem bad ass and started using it for every other action trailer since.
2. The Power by Snap
This song immediately brings to mind the 90’s and I think the reason that is is that it was used for almost every 90’s movie trailer, especially if there was even a hint that there was Power in the title or someone in the movie would say the word Power at any point. Super Mario Bros was probably the most blatant use of the song, and that was after three years of the song being a constant fixture of movies and TV.
1. Sweet Dreams (are Made of This) by Marilyn Manson
Easily the most overused trailer song, Marilyn Manson cover of the Eurythmics was great when it first came out for sort of warping the energy of the original and putting his unique, twisted twist on it. Unfortunatly it’s become an absolute crutch for any movie that is trying to sell itself as dark, twisted and intense. The most recent example I can think of is the new Fox show, The Following, that used the song to sort of say, “Hey man, we’re disturbed, we should be on cable but were not and your mom is going to flip out”
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.