The plot and the actors are all very nice, but a movie trailer's impact often relies on its soundtrack. Let's explore the latest trailer tunes and see how well they're working.
This Week's Trailer: Like a dark promise from a pitiless overlord, the first Fifty Shades of Grey trailer has arrived, portending a media juggernaut that will assault us all until the movie finally opens next Valentine's Day.
This Week's Tune: A slowed down, ostensibly sexier version of Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love," which she apparently re-recorded just for this movie
How Literal Is It? In case you forgot, Fifty Shades of Grey is the story of a young woman who falls for her sexy boss, only to find out that he's into really kinky stuff. But y'all, she goes right along with it. Because these "crazy" things he does in the bedroom start to feel like "love." So see? It's like Beyoncé wrote the song just for them!
But here's another way this song is the most literal choice imaginable: Just like Queen Bey, the movie has transcended its identity as a mere cultural product. It's now a marketing force, designed to overwhelm us with its unavoidable presence. When a title is this huge, the point is less whether we want to see it and more that we get pummeled into awareness.
To that end, there's no way some indie star or one-hit wonder is going to sing the trailer tune. When you're trying to cement your picture's identity as a cultural inevitability, your only real option is the woman who breaks Twitter every other week. And yes, there may be subtler, more artistically surprising song choices out there, but subtlety doesn't get you a $100 million opening weekend.
How Emotional Is It? This version of "Crazy In Love" is certainly creepier than the original, replacing the sweet horn section with distorted vocals and a whole lot of breathiness. That does seem appropriate for a movie about the dark edges of desire. But the emotional impact would be more startling if the trailers for Maleficent and Birdman hadn't used this exact same tactic with "Once Upon a Dream" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," respectively.
Will We Associate It With This Movie? Yeah, probably. The original "Crazy In Love" is tied to our memories of whatever we were doing in the summer of 2003, but since this trailer introduced the slow version, it'll always be the reference point for it.
Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: This trailer was going to be a big deal no matter what, but the use of this song has just given us one more reason to think about it. And so it succeeds in burying the burr of Fifty Shades of Grey even deeper into our brains.