15 Best Movie Trailer Songs of the 21st Century - VRGyani News and Media

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Monday, September 13, 2021

15 Best Movie Trailer Songs of the 21st Century

What makes the perfect trailer? It may be the editing style or the money shot that sends the internet into hysteria — but it just might be the song selection. Whether it be the latest chart-topping hit, the perfect throwback, or an interesting new cover of an old favorite, there have been more than a couple of occasions where the music in a movie trailer steals the show. Here are the best needle-drops in trailers of the 21st century.

RELATED: The Best Comic Book Movie Trailers of All Time

The Social Network (Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Creep)

David Fincher's The Social Network is hailed as a masterpiece and one of the greatest films of the 21st century, but the film's trailer is a classic in its own right. The Scala & Kolacny Brothers cover of the Radiohead hit "Creep" is a large part of why the trailer for the film works as well as it does — so much so that this cover will forever be synonymous with the marketing campaign for the Oscar-winning drama. The women's choir behind the cover has had plenty of their other work used in other trailers, but never as beautifully as here. Not only do the lyrics of the song precisely capture the awkward relentlessness of Mark Zuckerberg, but the pacing of the song perfectly captures the escalating tension throughout the trailer.

Logan (Johnny Cash - Hurt)

Superhero trailers tend to always use either a fast-paced song or a slow and moody cover of a popular hit. That's what makes the first trailer for James Mangold's Logan so special. The use of Johnny Cash's iconic cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" promises fans this is truly a different kind of superhero movie, giving it engaging, neo-western vibes. The melancholic nature of the song is even used during the most action-heavy parts of the trailer, which makes it all the more chilling. Most of all, the song's inclusion lets the audience know the current psyche of the titular character.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (The Four Tops - Walk Away Renée)

As divisive as Martin McDonaugh's Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri may have been when it first debuted, there's no denying that the use of The Four Tops' cover of The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renée" perfectly reflects the chaotic and mean-spirited nature of the trailer. The song, which plays during the last half of the trailer, blares over footage of police brutality, buildings burning, and a brutal family dilemma — as well as more tender moments such as the characters showing affection. While the song accurately encapsulates the deliberately messy nature of the film, control is shown when the song briefly stops for a news reporter to countdown to 1 before quickly transitioning back into the music.

Pineapple Express (M.I.A. - Paper Planes)

Comedy trailers typically aim for one primary goal: to make the audience laugh. Which makes the trailer for David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express all the more impressive with how committed it is to its pretty serious song choice: M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." While the song is not specifically about weed (and more about how Americans tend to look down on immigrants), the references to cannabis make it just the right fit for the Seth Rogen/James Franco stoner comedy trailer. From the quick-edits of the film's villains that are in rhythm with the tempo of the song, to cutting shots of the characters firing guns to the gunshots in the actual song, the editing team behind this trailer clearly outdid themselves.

Watchmen (Smashing Pumpkins - The End Is the Beginning Is the End)

It was certainly a bold choice for the first trailer for Zack Snyder's highly ambitious adaptation of Watchmen to be set to a song that originated from the soundtrack of Batman & Robin, a film so reviled that it very nearly ended superhero movies. Yet it paid off magnificently as Smashing Pumpkins' "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" perfectly encapsulates the source material's feeling of existential dread and hopelessness. Even the lyrics of the song speak to Watchmen's views on the crumbling of society. It is a moody track perfectly selected for a moody trailer.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (Imagine Dragons - Friction)

The trailers for the last several Mission: Impossible films have been brilliantly set to various songs, from Eminem and P!nk's "Won't Back Down" for Ghost Protocol to Fugees' "Ready Or Not" for Rogue Nation. But neither of those hold a candle to the use of Imagine Dragons' "Friction" in the trailer for Christopher McQuarrie's Fallout. Similar to other entries here, the trailer for Fallout is cut to the rhythm of the song which leads to one of the trailer's biggest highlights: Henry Cavill, in all his glory, punching his fists to the beat of the song. Who knew that two grown men fighting in a fancy bathroom could be so musical?

Where the Wild Things Are (Arcade Fire - Wake Up)

After an introductory line, the trailer for Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are barely has any words; just the sounds of howling and the Arcade Fire hit "Wake Up." The moving nature of the song, as well as its chorus, helped give audiences just a glimpse at the emotional depth of what the general audience initially perceived as "just a kids' movie." This trailer could also multi-task as a music video for the song; the song's rising tempo feels more than appropriate for the entire trailer, from the spurts of joy and play to the shots of the titular Wild Things crying. Most of all, it gracefully portrays the innocence of childhood in a way that most trailers can not.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Of Monsters and Men - Dirty Paws)

Similar to the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are, this teaser for Ben Stiller's The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty could serve a dual purpose as a music video. The use of Of Monsters and Men's "Dirty Paws" sets a certain aura for the film as the slower build-up plays over the titular character's mundane life before quickly rising as our hero embarks on his adventure, all accompanied perfectly by shots of Greenland, the Himalayas, and the ocean. It's the kind of song choice that molds a sense of wonder, promise, and inspiration. It's not your typical adventure film.

The Wolf Of Wall Street (Kanye West - Black Skinhead)

Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street is perhaps one of the wildest films in the auteur's illustrious career, so it's more than fitting that the trailer is set to the beat of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead." It just makes sense that a trailer that focuses on the luxuriously unethical lifestyle of Jordan Belfort is set to a song from someone as polarizing as West. On top of that, the trailer debuted two days before the official release of the acclaimed song, meaning that not only was the trailer promoting the Scorsese film but also the song itself!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Karen O with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - Immigrant Song)

Many now associate the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok as one of the best uses of Led Zeppelin's brilliant "Immigrant Song," but there's a good argument that the trailer for Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did it much better with a cover by Karen O, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross. The warped version of the classic hit certainly captures the twisted and sickening spirit of the film itself, catapulting an audience's interest to a whole new level. The song's use in the trailer also promised that after a string of tamer films, Fincher could still make a film as shocking and sardonic as the films that made him famous. Heck, even The Muppets made a parody of the trailer!

Birdman (Gnarls Barkley - Crazy)

One can say what they want about Alejandro González Iñárritu's Best Picture-winning Birdman, but the marketing campaign for the film was absolutely phenomenal. By now, slow-downed remixes and covers of classic songs have become a tired trend, but the remix of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" perfectly summarizes the film and the mindset of Michael Keaton's broken character, his deteriorating mental state, his past as a movie star, and of course his overbearing ego. From the shots of him waltzing through Times Square in his underwear to his mysterious telepathic powers, the use of this remix is just a tease for the inner "craziness" that is to come.

Us (Luniz - I Got 5 on It)

Leave it to Jordan Peele to make a rap hit from the '90s into something so chilling in the trailer for his sophomore film Us. The film actually manages to make Luniz's "I Got 5 On It" part of the plot, opening with the Wilson family listening to it in the car trying to dissuade the youngest member of the family from knowing about the song's drug references. It's that kind of self-awareness that gives the trailer a sense of swagger, though the song gradually morphs into something more ominous as the events in the trailer begin to grow more sinister. After the release of this trailer, film fans could never listen to the song the same way again.

30 Days Of Night (Muse - Apocalypse Please)

Muse's music has found its way into plenty of trailers, but the use of "Apocalypse Please" in the trailer for David Slade's vampire flick 30 Days Of Night might be the best use of their music to date. The song's introduction alone — a vampire's claws scratching a record player — makes this a memorable needle drop alongside the vampire carnage. Even the title of the track alone, "Apocalypse Please," proves the track to be the perfect choice as the people of Barrow, Alaska are ripped apart by the bloodthirsty vampires.

10 Cloverfield Lane (Tommy James & The Shondells - I Think We're Alone Now)

The trailer for Dan Trachtenberg and J.J. Abrams' secret spin-off (sequel?) 10 Cloverfield Lane made waves when the trailer was surprisingly dropped in front of Michael Bay's 13 Hours, but that felt just like icing on the cake compared to how engrossing the trailer really was. One of the reasons why the trailer is just so damn engaging is the use of Tommy James & The Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now". While there is already a strange aura that echoes even in the beginning of the trailer, the cheery nature of the song chirps along as the three leads try to entertain themselves. The trailer starts to gradually slow down even more, becoming genuinely creepy as the audience realizes that their initial suspicions were right and that maybe their beloved John Goodman is not up to any good.

You're Next (Lou Reed - Perfect Day)

Sometimes irony can make for the best kind of horror. The trailer for Adam Wingard's You're Next starts off with a CD player playing Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" as the Davison family has, what many would consider, a truly perfect day as a family. The music abruptly stops as the first member of the family is killed by a crossbow and they begin to be hunted down by the animal masked invaders. Then comes the twist — the CD player repeats the disc and the Reed song plays once again, but even louder, giving in to the sense of irony that what the Davisons are experiencing is far from a perfect day. It's equally chilling but also darkly comical.

KEEP READING: The 10 Best MCU Soundtrack Needle Drops



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