There comes a moment in every teen movie — or in any movie about adults acting like teens, which is to say, stupidly — when the bad kids reveal themselves. It usually involves a Juicy sweatsuit and some poor nail-care choices; there is often a slow-motion shot of someone striding down a hallway; and it always, always features a blaring pop song. Lately, that song has been by Sleigh Bells: the Florida’s duo’s 2010 album Treats is experiencing a movie-trailer renaissance, specifically in movies about teen girls behaving badly. “Infinity Guitars” shows up in the Kick-Ass 2 trailer, just as Chloe Moretz slaps Aaron Johnson-Wood in the face; “Kids” scored the original trailer for Pain and Gain (which is more or less a movie about teenage girls trapped in Mark Wahlberg & Co.’s ’roided bodies). And most crucially, “Crown on the Ground” opens both the trailer and the title sequence for The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s Ugg-filled tribute to a real-life gang of Hollywood teen burglars.
Please understand: Sleigh Bells is the perfect choice for The Bling Ring. It’s been simmering as a mean-girl music cue for years now — first in the American version of Skins, then in Girls and Bachelorette. The music is aggressive, but not off-putting; sunny, but with a bad attitude. Most of the songs are the perfect strutting BPM. But the first rule of the Mean Girl World is that cool can never last, and so in the interest of a more honest and varied music experience, here are a few suggestions for new bad-teen anthems.
Notes: M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” was disqualified, because it is almost equally ubiquitous (and also in The Bling Ring); the choices are fairly recent, because teens don’t listen to old-people music.
“Go” — Santigold featuring Karen O
Not that Santigold or Karen O are mean girls — they are too talented to be plastics — but they are undoubtedly cool and, by extension, sort of intimidating. So the pedigree is impeccable, and then comes the primal girl chanting, perfect for gym or party scenes. Santigold is sort of singing in uptalk, too.
“Gucci Gucci” — Kreayshawn
How did this song only make it into The Sitter and a random episode of Entourage? Kreayshawn herself was overplayed, sure, but this song was smart, and it is relevant to all of the important mean-girl themes: girl-on-girl hate, labels, swag pumping out of ovaries. And now it has a kind of poignant failure attached to it, which is how most bad-teen stories turn out.
“Werkin Girls” — Angel Haze
Vicious Casper the Ghost references from your up-and-coming female rapper of the moment. (Related: No more “212.” Azealia has peaked, and then some.)
“You — Ha Ha Ha” — Charli XCX
It’s right there in the chorus: “Ha ha ha / I was right all along.” This might also be a good place to argue for the Charli XCX co-written “I Love It,” which has gotten a fair amount of play in commercials but still hasn’t made it into a real movie (as best we and IMDB can tell). You have to use it quickly! That song’s expiration date is coming. But any song in which young women scream “I don’t care” at the top of their lungs is a valid option.
“Run the World (Girls)” — Beyoncé
We assume this is far too expensive for everyday trailer use, but this is basically a Girl War Anthem. Sometimes, you need to spend more (specifically, when it involves Beyoncé).