There is a pervasive trend in modern movie trailers you are undoubtedly familiar with by now: the solemn, slow cover of a very famous, well-regarded song. In the more recent, and perhaps most egregious, example, Warner Bros.’ new Geostorm trailer features a grim rendition of Louis Armstrong’s classic tune “What a Wonderful World.” The dramatic cover is, of course, meant as a bit of irony, because as you can see, the world depicted in Geostorm is clearly not wonderful: It’s filled with lightning and tornadoes and hail large enough to destroy a city bus.
This trend isn’t new, and it has inspired a lot of passion on both the pro and the anti side of the conversation. But now feels like the time to recognize that overly obvious elegiac covers have jumped the shark, which is also something awesome that seems like it might happen in Geostorm. As we call time of death, accompanied by a dour version of “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,” please revisit the single highlight and extreme lowlights of the serious, and often seriously sardonic, trend.
50 Shades of Grey trailer + Beyoncé’s sexier “Crazy in Love” cover
Beyoncé’s slow, sexy cover of “Crazy in Love” for the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack served as both a high-water mark and a harbinger of covers to come. The standards are slightly different here though: It’s her song, after all. It’s the standard by which all moody covers should be judged, and found lacking.
And now, the lowlights:
The Social Network trailer + a choral cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”
Certainly, yes, a choral version of Radiohead’s “Creep” seemed thematically in order. Because, as explored in The Social Network’s Oscar-winning adapted screenplay, Mark Zuckerberg is a “weirdo” who “doesn’t belong here.” He belongs on Facebook, which he invented.
The Great Gatsby trailer + a cover of the Turtles’ “Happy Together”
In case you were misled by his fabulous lifestyle, Filter’s cover of the Turtles’ “Happy Together” offers a glimpse into the inner life of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby in 2012’s The Great Gatsby. Jay and Daisy are so happy together … OR ARE THEY? No. They are very much not.
Birdman trailer + CeeLo covering his song “Crazy”
CeeLo Green’s slower, edgier version of his own “Crazy” in the Birdman trailer is as on-the-nose as any trailer song in recent history.
Insurgent trailer + a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”
Oh, you better believe 2015’s teen dystopian action film “Insurgent” also used a cover of “What a Wonderful World.” Clearly, this is a bad world.
Patriots Day trailer + an instrumental cover of “America the Beautiful”
How can an instrumental version of “America the Beautiful” used in the Patriots Day trailer count, you might wonder? Have you listened to how slow it is? It is in the slowness that you will understand.
Power Rangers trailer + a cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line”
Halsey’s cover of Johnny Cash “I Walk the Line” is lovely, but actually works against our understanding of the film. What line? The line between being a Power Ranger and not? Are the Power Rangers themselves the line? The line between us and space freaks?
A Cure for Wellness Trailer + a cover of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”
By 2017, the level of irony has broken down completely. If the Ramones had recorded a song entitled “I Wanna Be Put in a Tank Filled With Eels and Also Maybe Become an Eel From the Looks of Things,” a cover of that song that would have been in The Cure for Wellness trailer. Please, let us finally put this trend to bed, maybe while a creepy, breathy female voice sings a cover of, let’s see, how about, Billy Joel’s “Lullabye.”