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So you're leaning back in your comfy theater chair, next to your significant other, munching on overpriced lobby snacks, when the previews come on. The first opens with some dramatic In a World narration about the Earth-That-Was...but wait a minute. That music sure sounds familiar. "Requiem for a Tower", again? The next trailer is for some run-of-the-mill PG-rated Eddie Murphy Toilet Humor kiddy comedy. It's "I Feel Good" by James Brown! Again!
This is a common movie trailer trope. Simply put, many editors of trailers find it easy to use famous songs to elicit a specific mood within a two- or three-minute duration.
- As mentioned above, James Brown's "I Feel Good" is the go-to song for inane kids' comedies based around Toilet Humor and Eddie Murphy playing all the characters. In fact, its status as a cliché was lampshaded in Tropic Thunder.
- And for kid's comedies that are less gross and more heartwarming, "I'm Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the waves is a popular choice.
- As also mentioned above, "Requiem for a Tower" is pretty popular for overwrought Sci-Fi/Action epics. Hell, even The Da Vinci Code used it.
- "What's This!?" from A Nightmare Before Christmas has made Danny Elfman enough royalties for him to live on all by itself.
- It's a little known fact, but U.S. law requires that a minimum of 75% of all Romantic Comedy trailers every year use "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet. And of course, the answer to that question is inevitably yes.
- Gary Jules' cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" is becoming popular for Horror/Action trailers during fast-paced montages of violence and/or desolation, as evidenced by its use in commercials for Gears of War and The Crazies.
- Up until the mid-2000s, a handful of tracks ("Name of the Game", for example) by The Crystal Method and The Prodigy were very popular in ads for everything from energy drinks to action movies. The use of big beat has become a Dead Horse Trope in advertising now, and has contributed the death of classic, Fatboy Slim-style big beat.
- Blink-182's "All the Small Things" is a popular choice for teen comedies starring actors in their late 20s. Also, any comedy where something is small (e.g., Alvin and The Chipmunks).
- Saliva's "Click Click Boom" is there for the prospective trailer editor who wants an X-Treme atmosphere for chugging Mountain Dew.
- From 1999 until a few years into the Turn of the Millennium, "All Star" by Smashmouth was in every ad for everything ever. Those ads included the trailers for the Digimon movie, the Inspector Gadget movie, and Shrek.
- "Song 2" by Blur - also a Standard Snippet in action scenes, particularly extreme sports.
- Want music for the trailer of your TV show? Is this week's episode particularly dramatic? "You've Got the Love". Done.
- Also "Set Fire to the Rain", especially on Lifetime.
- For a while around 2005-2006, any song by The Fray ("Over My Head", "How to Save a Life") was common in trailers for dramatic shows like Grey's Anatomy.
- "Firework" by Katy Perry has been used in the trailers for both Prom and Soul Surfer.
- When it first came out, "Tik Tok" by Kesha was popular in trailers for kids movies.
- Yeah, because that's such a kids' song.
- At least three movies have used the David Bowie / Queen collaboration "Under Pressure" in their trailers -- Stepmom (in fact, it was used in that film's opening sequence too), The Girl Next Door, and the Arthur remake (its trailer also used another Bowie number -- "Rebel Rebel"), so we can rest assured the protagonists are under pressure. Never mind that the pressure the song is discussing is that of dealing with a world gone mad, rather than raising stepkids or romantic travails.
- "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel seems to be the go-to song for "feel good movie" trailers. Odd, since it's a rather bitter song about Gabriel leaving Genesis.
- KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" was used in The Devil Wears Prada, and ever since has been used in various trailers for movies, TV, and commercials, usually in scenes where women are empowered. It was even parodied by Best Week Ever in 2008, which played it with scenes of women working in sweatshops.