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Moody Trailer Cover Song

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A major trend in 2010s movie advertising (and occasionally trailers for other media) is using a famous upbeat pop song to set the mood, only recontextualized with dark, atmospheric music and most often sung by a breathy female vocalist singing at the lower end of her range. Typically, these songs use bright cheerful pop songs with deceptively unhappy lyrics, which the new versions attempt to underline. This can also be used for advertising derivative works; a famous song from the source material can be repurposed into something slower and moodier to indicate that it's going to be Darker and Edgier.


Compare Ironic Nursery Tune. Usually a Softer and Slower Cover.


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  • Most articles credit The Social Network's use of a children choir singing Radiohead's "Creep" as the Trope Codifier. Unlike most later examples, however, the original is not very upbeat.
  • The 2014 adaptation of Endless Love uses Robert Palmer's '80s smash "Addicted to Love," emphasizing the insanity of love.
  • Dracula Untold's trailer uses Lorde's cover of Tears for Fears's "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."
  • A trailer for Geostorm features a slow, creepy cover of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" sung by a mournful female voice. There's meant to be a juxtaposition between the sweetly optimistic lyrics and the gratuitous scenes of Monumental Damage and at the hands of the Hostile Weather.
    I see skies of blue and clouds of white
    *dozens of tornadoes bearing down on a village as terrified people flee for their lives*
    The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
    *30 story tall tsunami sweeps through a coastal city, toppling buildings like dominoes*
    And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
    *birds falling out of the sky, followed by an airplane careening wildly towards the ground*
  • Insurgent: The Film of the Book uses a moodier cover of Louis Armstrong's happy "What a Wonderful World" ironically, as much destruction goes on in the trailer as it plays.
  • The Russian doping documentary "Icarus" uses a moody cover of CAKE's "The Distance," a semi-novelty alt-rock song about an obsessed race car driver.
  • Beyoncé recorded a whole new remix of her own "Crazy in Love" as a promotion for Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • San Andreas, a movie about an earthquake wiping out San Francisco, used Sia's slow ironic cover of "California Dreamin'".
  • A Cure for Wellness used an ironic cover of punk legends The Ramones' iconic "I Wanna Be Sedated" by Mirel Wagner. The use of drugs and sedatives figures heavily in the movie.
  • The teaser trailer for Power Rangers (2017) featured Halsey's graver, more ambient cover of Johnny Cash's upbeat "I Walk the Line."
  • Blair Witch featured a cover of The Police's already-creepy Obsession Song "Every Breath You Take."
  • The Great Gatsby had a cover of '60s pop classic "Happy Together" by The Turtles.
  • An example that also appeared in the movie: The trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron featured Ultron singing a slow, creepy cover of the ebullient "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio, as both are Artificial Humans but Ultron turned against his masters.
  • In-universe example: The Killing of a Sacred Deer featured the main character's daughter singing an a capella cover of Ellie Goulding's "Burn," taken from a scene in the movie.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies featured an atmospheric cover of "Born to Be Wild." Presumably this is referring to Elizabeth Bennet being a badass.
  • Logan used Johnny Cash's version of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt" (one of the few examples where the cover version was already well known) in many of its trailers.
  • Tomb Raider (2018) goes with a cover of Destiny's Child's "Survivor." Lara is indeed a survivor.
  • Suicide Squad (2016) features Becky Hanson's slow, haunting cover of The Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke" in its trailer, because the film features The Joker and Harley Quinn, and the lyrics mock the titular Suicide Squad's lack of agency as Boxed Crooks. The original version is more of a soul ballad.
    I couldn't see
    That the joke was on me
  • Wrath of the Titans used a cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", specifically Marilyn Manson's already-famous, much angrier-sounding version.
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2018) has a cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" in order to set the fantastic tone of the film.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse used Clairity's slow cover of Coldplay's "Don't Panic" in the trailer. The original was already fairly somber, but trailer milks the slower, more intense rendition of the lyric "We live in a beautiful world" repeatedly to highlight the irony that Apocalypse is destroying it.
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones used a cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun".
  • The trailer for Crimson Peak featured PJ Harvey's cover of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand."
  • Alien: Covenant featured Aurora's atmospheric cover of David Bowie's "Nature Boy" in its teaser trailer.
  • Ready Player One has a variation. The cover of "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory by Ghostwriter Music fits this trope with the lyrics used, as they are sung slowly and infused with electronica, but the track itself gets more and more bombastic in the instrumental portion. The song is fitting, as the film is about a virtual world where nearly anything is possible.
  • Justice League (2017) used a grungy cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" by Gangs of Youth, since the film is about superheroes coming together.
  • The commercials for the Dwayne Johnson movie Skyscraper uses a slow cover of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down."
  • HBO's ads for their Bernie Madoff TV-movie The Wizard Of Lies features a dark cover of The Police's "King of Pain" by Valerie Broussard.
  • Dumbo (2019) has a cover of the original film's Signature Song "Baby Mine" play during the trailer.
  • The trailer for Us has a sinister remix of Luniz's "I Got 5 On It".
  • The first trailer for Child's Play (2019) makes use of Harry Nilsson's "Best Friend".

  • Star Trek: Discovery used a cover of "I'd Love To Change The World" by Ten Years After.
  • At least one of the trailers for American Horror Story: Coven used a slow-paced version of "House of the Rising Sun".
  • The trailer for The Defenders included a slow version of Nirvana's "Come As You Are".
  • Hannibal: Season two's trailer used MONA's warped version of Ben E King's "Stand By Me" to emphasize the main characters' complicated relationship.
  • The trailer for The Whispers has "You Are My Sunshine" playing like a nursery rhyme.
  • Game of Thrones: The teaser trailer of season seven used a slow version of "Sit Down" by James where the coda of the song is used to show the state of the three rulers of the Seven Kingdoms (Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister) who are walking towards their thrones.

    Video Games 
  • As with as Dracula Untold, Lorde's "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was also used by Assassin's Creed: Unity, which came out the same year.
  • The trailer for the video game Dead Space featured a woman singing "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" in a way that sounded like she was on the verge of tears.
  • Commercials for Evolve feature Mischa feat. Esthero's cover of "Ready Or Not" by The Delfonics. The cover only includes the chorus, which emphasises the dark and frightening feel of the game. Another trailer uses Lissie's cover of Danzig's "Mother", which spends about two thirds of the song being more slow and mournful before escalating into the rapid-fire final riff.
  • Final Fantasy XV used the Florence + the Machine cover of "Stand by Me".
  • An early example, is the Gears of War "Mad World" trailer, which uses Gary Jules's cover of the Tears for Fears song. Although this cover was originally used on the soundtrack for Donnie Darko.

  • One commercial for Alfa Romeo uses an atmospheric cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."


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