In Honor Of ‘Suicide Squad’: A Brief History Of Slowed-Down Dramatic Cover Songs In Trailers

When the trailer for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad hit yesterday, I was amazed by the level of unintentional self-parody. DC/Warner Bros has less experience marketing comic-book blockbusters than Marvel/Disney, sure, but this looked like a tutorial assignment from Gritty Comic Book Movie Trailers for Dummies. Like really? Someone thought this was a good idea?

Aside from Will Smith’s laugh-out-loud name-dropping of the title, “It’s like we’re some kind of… suicide squad,” the part that most stuck out was the slowed-down, goth-ish cover version of the Bee Gees’ “I Started A Joke” (a song that mostly reminds me of Zoolander).

If it sounded familiar, that’s because it is. Not the Bee Gees, specifically. But the slowed-down-dramatic-cover-of-pop-song thing. It’s EVERYWHERE. Has such a specific trend ever spread so far, so quickly? It’s rivaled only by Inception‘s BRAAAAAHM sound. (Which is itself just a slowed down version of “Non, Je Ne Regretted Rien” by Edith Piaf).

Suicide Squad may have seemed particularly egregious because it came just weeks after a slowed-down version of “This Little Light Of Mine” showed up in Snowden, and months after a slowed-down “California Dreamin’ ” scored San Andreas:

“California Dreamin’ ” in San Andreas.

And then there was the Pinocchio song from the Age of Ultron teaser:

I think this all started with Donnie Darko, which had two separate covers of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” on the soundtrack. The song wasn’t in the original trailers (say what you will about the movie, that trailer was incredible) but it was in regular radio rotation for months and I think it incepted a generation of aspiring gritty editors.

The Gary Jules version of “Mad World” is almost a cliché unto itself. Here it is again in a Gears of War trailer:

It even showed up in a Taco Bell Bacon Chalupa commercial:

And hey, you know what’s almost like “Mad World?” “Wild World.” Here it is in The Returned:

And on the theme of slowed-down covers with “World” in the title, here’s “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” in Dracula Untold.

Here’s Sheryl Crow doing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in Last House On The Left:

Horror movies in particular love the slowed-down cover song. It’s sort of the musical version of children laughing made to sound creepy. Here’s The Gallows using the chorus of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I guess because the “hello how low” kind of sounds like “Gal-low?” This had to have been someone’s stoner epiphany.

Meanwhile, Endless Love may win the award for most unlikely song ever to be creepified, for doing a slowed down version of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.”

Speaking of love, I didn’t even notice at first that the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer soundtrack was a dramatic version of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love.”

Of course the trend goes further, and was around before, horror movies. The Social Network‘s children’s choir singing “Creep” is another famous example:

To be fair, it is pretty impressive that they managed to make liking a status on Facebook seem profound.

Filter does “Happy Together” on Great Gatsby:

“Black Hole Sun” in A Walk Among The Tombstones:

Birdman has a slowed down “Crazy,” by Gnarls Barkley:

Here’s Lana Del Rey in Maleficent:

That was apparently a cover of a song from the 1959 Sleeping Beauty (thanks, YouTube description).

And there are much, much more than this. Even after I thought of doing this as a feature, I saw a trailer for Quantico on ABC with slowed down dramatic cover in it, though it doesn’t seem to be online.

Of course, I’m still holding out for that spooky horror movie set to Smash Mouth.


“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” in Blackhat: