Recognizable pop hits have always been used in TV commercials and movie trailers as a shortcut to form an instant connection with the audience. In 1987, The Beatles‘ Apple Records label famously sued Nike for their use of the Lennon-McCartney song “Revolution” in a popular TV spot for the Nike Air sneaker.
When it comes to film and television advertising, the stakes are very high to create a sense of familiarity that leads to a money-making opening weekend at the box office or high ratings. If a hit song is perceived as a successful marketing tool, it’s likely to be used and re-used many times over. Last year Bruno Mars‘ “Uptown Funk” was featured in countless movie trailers, TV spots and commercials such as this one for Propel Electrolyte Water:
So far this year, two recently released trailers for the films, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, starring Tina Fey and How to Be Single, starring Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson, feature Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s.”
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Trailer:
How to Be Single Trailer:
Another popular trend in TV and movie advertising is the use of cover versions of famous songs, sometimes slowed down for a more dramatic effect. Posted below is a video montage of some of the most prominent examples. Featured in chronogical order is “Sweet Child of Mine” in The Last House on Left (2009), “Happy Together” in The Great Gatsby (2013), “Addicted to Love” in Endless Love (2014), “Crazy in Love” in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), “Landslide” in Suffragette (2015), “California Dreamin’” in San Andreas (2015), and “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016).
My brother Alejandro (the other writer of Hollywood Vulture) and I, parodied the use of slowed down songs in a mock trailer for the Paranormal Activity parody, Bearanormal Activity 2. It begins with an ominous sounding version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
The Holidays are the greatest gift to theme parks. It gives them a chance to repackage what is essentially the same experience. For example, Universal Studios in October is a lot like Universal Studios in June, except with zombies and a smoke machine. Either way, you still ride “Minion Mayhem” twice. So it goes with Christmas, too — or as they call it, “Grinchmas!” It’s a simple formula that works. All Universal has to do is decorate the park a little bit differently and then, in a big marketing push, capitalize on the imagery from their large canon of movies to get people excited. I’m actually shocked they haven’t used this formula for Valentine’s Day yet. Can’t you just picture a Because I Said So maze or The Story of Us stunt show?