How A Non-Elvis Song From ‘Priscilla’ Took Over My Life

There’s one good and one very annoying thing about going to the movie theater at least once a week. Let’s start with the good. The more treks to the cinema, the higher the chance that you’re going to watch your new favorite movie of all-time (unless it’s Freelance, then you might watch your new least favorite movie of all-time, which is fun in a different way). The bad? Being assaulted by the same trailers, over and over again.

I still remember every beat of the trailer for Midnight Special, a movie that came out seven years ago. I’ve heard good things, but I never saw it (sorry Michael Shannon!) as an act of revenge for being exposed to the preview so frequently. Maybe that’s not fair to the movie, but a person (me) can only hear the slowed-down cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer so many times before losing it.

More recently, I’ve seen the teaser trailer for Priscilla before every screening at my local Alamo Drafthouse. But in this case, I don’t mind. For one thing, it’s short. Also, it’s easier to sit through an overplayed trailer when it’s for a movie that looks good, and the A24 film from director Sofia Coppola looks very good.

It’s fair to assume that the teaser trailer for Priscilla — a biopic of Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ wife, played by Cailee Spaeny; a Lilo and Stitch fan portrays The King — would be soundtracked by Presley’s deep catalog of classics. It’s one of the reasons why the Baz Luhrmann fever dream starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, in an insane performance I will defend with my life, from last year made almost $300 million at the box office. People like Elvis!

But Coppola couldn’t get the rights to his music. “They don’t like projects that they haven’t originated,” the filmmaker explained to the Hollywood Reporter about Elvis Presley Enterprises, “and they’re protective of their brand.”

So instead of effective-if-obvious montages set to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Love Me Tender” and other Elvis songs with “love” in the title, Priscilla includes music from the likes of Alice Coltrane, Dolly Parton, and Tommy James & the Shondells. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I hope the soundtrack includes “How You Satisfy Me” by Spectrum, the woozy organ-heavy song from the teaser trailer. It sounds like if Suicide, well, wasn’t named Suicide. I’ve become obsessed with the track, to the point where it could break into my year-end Spotify Wrapped list. I’ve listened to the reverb-drenched song five times while writing this article, so if there are any typos, blame Peter Kember (who, fun fact, would later work with MGMT and Beach House).

An Elvis song might have made more “sense” in the Priscilla teaser. It could have done the emotional heavy lifting due to many people’s nostalgic familiarity with Presley (shout out to the “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” scene from Full House). But by not being able to use his music, “that made us be more creative,” Coppola said. “How You Satisfy Me” is an inventive choice — and it works better in the teaser than any Elvis song could. It’s evocative, mysterious, and daring, three words that a young Priscilla might have used to describe Elvis when she was first being wooed. It goes against what you expect from a biopic, not unlike Coppola’s brilliant 1980s new wave and post-punk soundtrack to the 18th-century period piece Marie Antoinette.

“Jailhouse Rock” is as overplayed as the Ant-Man trailer that drove me nuts. But not “How You Satisfy Me.” It’s as creative as Coppola hoped. If Elvis is the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, she’s the queen of movie trailer songs.

Priscilla is out in theaters now