Like so many industries, Hollywood is one of trends. Someone figures out a type of movie that works, and all of a sudden, we have 20 more like it. A fresh-faced actor connects with audiences, and now he or she in every movie. A cinematic universe becomes a thing, and so everyone must have one.
Movie trailers are no different. There are plenty of trends that can mark a trailer to a certain period in time. Don LaFontaine, a.k.a. Epic Movie Trailer Voice Guy, redefined the way we expected trailers to sound. When the Inception trailer introduced us to the BRAAAAAHM, everybody needed to add a BRAAAAAHM to their trailer as well.
In recent years, you’ve probably noticed the new trend which has become so commonplace that you just expect it now: The emotive and haunting cover version of a previously popular song that conveys the theme of the movie.
Most people track the trend’s origin to the trailer for The Social Network, which featured a children’s choir cover version of Radiohead’s “Creep” that tapped into something in all of us when it came to not only what we think about Mark Zuckerberg, but also how we kinda feel about ourselves when we use Facebook. (Or was that just us?)
The trailer and the film were big hits, so from there, studios have been falling over themselves to find or record haunting versions of popular (or trendy) songs that make it easier for audiences to connect with the visual story they’re being sold.
This trend has officially gone on long enough now that we can compile and, because it’s the internet, rank all of the creepy cover band trailers we know. Put on a stripped-down, melodic version of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and let’s get to it. (H/T to Tom Ley for the inspiration)
18. “Sweet Child of Mine” by Taken By Trees – The Last House On the Left
Kudos if you remember the remake of The Last House On The Left. The film’s most lasting legacy will probably be this wistful version of the Guns & Roses classic. This time, you could make the case that the cover version actually strips the song of its menace. We can see what they were going for, some kind of ironic take, but like the film, it just doesn’t work.
17. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Think Up Anger ft. Malia – The Gallows
This is a pretty bad movie, so remaking this Nirvana classic here feels like a waste. Also, in a weird way, it’s a less creepy version of the song, so what was the point?
16. “Happy Together” by Filter – The Great Gatsby
Leave it to Filter (“Hey Man, Nice Shot“) to turn “Happy Together” into a miserable rock ballad that was only slightly less enjoyable than The Great Gatsby remake.
15. “Black Hole Son” by SWANN, feat. Nouela – A Walk Among The Tombstones
This feels like a very middle of the road example. It’s not terrible. It’s just a kinda emo version of a grunge classic, which kinda strips the song of its urgency. Also, there’s just something about Chris Cornell’s voice that begs you not to even try to match up to it. The song choice itself matches with the trailer, though, so they get points for that.
14. “Diamonds” by Josef Salvat – The Perfect Guy
There seems to be an unwritten rule that if the famous version is sung by a man, the cover should be a woman. And vice versa. To be honest, it doesn’t quite match up what’s going on in the plot and seems to be there more to just connect you to a song you know. So, not quite right. Still, the music works.
13. “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” by Lorde – Dracula Untold
Bad movie, but man, does that song match the story we know of Dracula or what? There are a lot of really slowed-down good versions of this Tears For Fears classic. Can’t say this is the best one, but it’s the version that makes sense for this movie. Somewhere between haunting and action-y. It’s Lorde, so that makes sense.
12. “Addicted To Love” by Skylar Grey – Endless Love
Let’s be honest, Robert Palmer is kind of a creepy guy to begin with. Or at least, his lyrics are definitely creeper talk. They only use, like, two lines from the whole song, so they get docked for that.
11. “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley – Birdman
This one’s a bit of an anomaly. It’s performed by the original artist, but takes a fast song and slows it the F down in order to tell the story they want to tell. It even threatens to speed up at one moment before coming back down. Very effective.
10. “Do You Realize” by Ursine Vulpine – Transformers: The Last Knight
This one just released and it’s a doozy of a trailer in general. Credit is due for taking a song that the masses might not be familiar with. Note the moment when Optimus Prime floats by in space and the lyrics “We’re floating in space” are uttered. It’s on the nose as all hell, but then again, this is a Michael Bay movie trailer.
9. “Once Upon A Dream” by Lana Del Rey – Maleficient
Bonus points here for taking a song already known for Sleeping Beauty and applying it to this kinda-sorta-but-not-really sequel. Of course, it does the basic thing all of these songs are supposed to do as well, which is take a pleasant song and turn it into something disturbing. Well done, Lana.
8. “Now World Coming” by DISA – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Great version of the Nina Simone classic, and damn, if those opening lyrics don’t tell the story better than anything they could have shown from the movie.
7. “California Dreamin'” by Sia – San Andreas
Sometimes, the point isn’t to creep you out. Sometimes, the point is to smother you in irony. That’s this. Bonus points for having Sia sing it, cause everything’s better with Sia.
6. “Nothing Else Matters” by Scala & Kolacny Brothers – Zero Dark Thirty
Let’s be real, you could have just used the original. The original version already seems like a haunting cover of a rock song. Still, it’s such a good song that it still works even when sung by children.
5. “I Wanna Be Sedated” – A Cure For Wellness
You get it all in this one. Haunting cover of a Ramones punk classic. BRAAAHM sounds to fill in the gaps. Lots of shots of people in “sedation” of some kind. This might be the most pure version of the trend. We’re not saying that makes it the best, mind you.
4. “When The Saints Go Marching In” by Ursine Vulpine – Snowden
You just know there was a meeting at some point where someone asked what was the most innocent-sounding song that could be distorted for a movie trailer and this is what they came up with.
3. “Crazy In Love” by Miguel – Fifty Shades of Grey
Look, we’re not here to discuss the merits of Fifty Shades of Grey or its fandom. In terms of the trailer, this cooled-down version of the Beyonce epic pretty much works. The slow-churning beat fits what they’re going for and the lyrics are crazy on point. And the “uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh” at the end is a solid bumper to leave you with.
2. “I Started A Joke” by Becky Hansen – Suicide Squad
The trailer works so well that it’s probably better than the movie itself. Bonus points for the way the last line of the song perfectly transitions into the big reveal. Very well chosen.
1. “I’ve Got No Strings” – Avengers: Age of Ultron
This one might just be the masterclass on this trend. It’s a creepy version of an otherwise cheery Disney classic. Most importantly, it ties in thematically to the trailer itself. Ultron bookends the song with dialogue from the movie so perfectly you wonder if they thought up the trailer while they were writing the script.