Ask yourself this: if a movie trailer doesn’t have a Kanye West song in it, then is it really a movie trailer? For some reason, Kanye has become an inescapable component of the trailer business. His music is now as integral as ‘In a world…’ or the Inception-style BLARM effects were in years gone by.
Most recently Kanye turned up on the trailer for new Netflix thriller series Ozark, lending the ominous lurk of Wolves in a bid to help people remember that Jason Bateman doesn’t just make third-rate comedies any more. But don’t worry if you missed it, because he’ll be on another trailer by the end of the month. This is simply the way that trailers work now.
So prevalent is Kanye West, in fact, that’s it’s probably time to put his trailers into some sort of order from best to worst. So that’s what I’m going to do, although I’m only going to rank his most recent trailers because I’m just one man and I’ll drown if I go all the way back to The Social Network.
For starters, it helps that Atomic Blonde looks like a wildly entertaining film, like Charlize Theron has taken all the momentum that Imperator Furiosa gave her, and used it to pummel a load of men to death. However, the trailer gets extra points for incorporating Kanye West so imaginatively. His Black Skinhead gets mashed up with Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, most notably in a sequence where she busts up some baddies real good. If all Kanye songs were incorporated this well into trailers, we wouldn’t have a problem. However …
No Kanye song is as overused in trailers as Power (step forward Limitless, Broken City, Fantastic Four etc). However, at least Power Rangers can claim thematic equivalence. After all, the song goes “No one man should have all this power”, and the true moral of Power Rangers is that power is best divided between likeminded teammates, ideally teammates who will slot together into a giant robot quite near the end of the film. Plus, the trailer modified the Go Go Power Rangers jingle to sound like the King Crimson song that Kanye samples in Power, and such attention to detail should be rewarded. Also, the film has the word power in its title, so that helps too.
Ozark’s release is riddled with obstacles. People aren’t going to watch it because they don’t know what Ozark is. Then, if they do watch it, they’ll quickly switch off because Jason Bateman is in it and it isn’t a kooky body-swap comedy that co-stars Melissa McCarthy. However, the trailer goes some way to clearing these obstacles because it’s soundtracked by Kanye West’s Wolves. “This must be tense and foreboding,” the audience will think, “because they’ve used the laziest possible musical shortcut to signify that.” And then they still won’t watch it, but that isn’t Kanye’s fault.
One of the reasons the trailer industry is so drawn to Kanye is because he primarily deals in weightless bombast. Take his song I Am a God, for example. This is the song where he proclaims his literal omniscience, then complains about a lack of baked goods. As such, any film that wanted to artificially inflate its own importance could do a lot worse. Enter Assassin’s Creed, the Michael Fassbender video-game adaptation that nobody watched. Given the spectacle of the trailer, I Am a God should have worked perfectly. And yet somehow it did not. If only Kanye had recorded a song called I Am a Little Man From a Computer Game Who Jumps Off Things a Lot, this would have all been so different.
Hey, it’s Wolves again! However, Kanye West is not a miracle worker and not even he can record a song that manages to successfully paper over the flaws of a dumb-as-rocks trailer which primarily consists of Katherine Heigl masturbating to a fake Facebook page. A terrible effort, yet somehow not the worst offender.
The Girl on the Train
Oh no you didn’t. You went and Fifty Shades of Greyed it, you bastards. How dare you. You took Heartless, which is a perfectly good song on its own, and you slowed it down and filled it with all the absent-minded piano donks that you trailer people like so much. And what’s with all those drums that sound like a marching band spaced out on ketamine? And is that a viola? Dear god. No wonder everybody hated your film. Now go away and never try anything like this again.