ByMatthew Rudoy, writer at
Author of the novels 'Corruption' and 'Destruction'. Passionate about many books, movies, and TV series.
Matthew Rudoy

I did not see Kingsman: The Secret Service and had no interest in seeing the sequel until catching the trailer before my third viewing of Wonder Woman. The inclusion of Frank Sinatra's song "My Way" is what hooked me. Regardless of the trailer content, the song evokes nostalgia of driving around in my girlfriend's car in college, listening to Sinatra music. Sinatra tends to evoke a feel-good, nostalgic feeling for most people. So, can iconic music just be plugged into a movie trailer and automatically make the movie appealing?

Music Must Match Tone

If marketing was as easy as plugging renowned music into the trailers, more than half of all movie trailers would feature the likes of Sinatra and the Beatles. As much as I enjoy Sinatra's music — particularly the feelings and memories it evokes — I still doubt I'll see Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. Despite the James Bond-esque classiness at work in the spy thriller, the feel-good, old-timey nostalgia of Sinatra seems to clash with the explosive technology and slow motion fight scenes.

On the other hand, a trailer that can incorporate beloved music that compliments the cinematic tone serves as perfect marketing. Guardians of the Galaxy nailed this with their original trailer featuring Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling."

This song conveys the bizarre, quirky, high-energy nature of the movie and its characters. The song is also integral to Peter Quill/Star-Lord's connection to music and his relationship with his mother, which drives both the original movie and also the sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Thor: Ragnarok, took the Internet by storm in April when its stunning teaser trailer — featuring Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" — debuted.

The trailer embraces its sci-fi elements more than the previous Thor films. Incorporating the "Immigrant Song" brilliantly encapsulates the narrative and tonal changes for the Thor trilogy depicted in the trailer. We will have to wait until the movie's release on November 3 to make the final judgment on whether the movie is worthy of the music.

Iconic Songs With Lyrics Or Original Soundtrack Music?

The music must match the movie's tone, but sometimes it's better to utilize original music rather than pop music to achieve such a feat. Sometimes the feelings and memories of certain songs can be too overpowering and make the music feel out of place. Certain individuals may find the inclusion of the "Immigrant Song" in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer distracting. One's memories of listening to the song in concert, or one's personal connection to the song could overshadow the trailer, making the song's inclusion seem like a cheap way to draw in audiences.

Trailers featuring original soundtrack music that matches the narrative tone can be even more effective as it endures in our memory. The theme included at the end of the following Wonder Woman trailer has come to serve as a trigger synonymous to the character portrayed by Gal Gadot. This theme will always be associated with the fierce and compassionate Diana of Wonder Woman.

There are limitations to using soundtrack music (no matter how original and how perfectly it matches the movie's tone) compared to songs teeming with rich lyrics, such as the songs we've looked at from Sinatra, Blue Swede and Led Zeppelin.

The power of music is integral to marketing a movie, serving as the foundation on which many trailers either thrive or barely survive, regardless of whether the music is original or the work of famous musicians.

Is it more effective for movie trailers to use iconic songs with lyrics or original soundtrack music? Sound off in the comments below!


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