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If by now you haven't watched the online trailer for David Fincher's forthcoming Facebook chronicle, The Social Network, then you either don't care about what people are already losing their minds over as a movie-of-the-year candidate, or, like me, your damn Adobe updates are keeping the thing from loading properly. In any case, one of the highlights of the clip is a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, which turns the grunge-era anthem into an elegiac for the rise-and-fall story of the site.
But The Social Network is far from the first film to use a cover or alternate version of a familiar tune for dramatic purposes. As such, we compiled a list of some of the most memorable uses in movie trailers of old songs performed by new singers. (And our list is hardly exhaustive, so please post your favorite suggestions in the comments section below for further discussion with the rest of Cinematical's readership.)
In chronological order:
"Superstar" (Sonic Youth) Haute Tension (2003) – Keeping in the classic tradition of American distributors disguising international films by eliminating all dialogue, the producers of this trailer for Alexandre Aja's cult classic horror film decided instead to use the voice of Thurston Moore, whose plaintive singing not only suits The Carpenters' original song scarily well, but provide a satisfyingly ominous backdrop for Aja's beatings and bludgeonings.
"It's A Wonderful Life" (Sparklehorse) Dawn of the Dead (2004) – When Universal announced that some upstart director planned to remake George Romero's zombie classic, few could have predicted that Zack Snyder would go on to be one of the decade's most successful and acclaimed mainstream filmmakers of the decade. But when audiences saw how the film's teaser trailer expertly utilized Sparklehorse's cover of the Neil Young classic to provide a bleakly self-delusional undercurrent to shots of the cast indulging their consumerist fantasies inside a shopping mall, they scarcely could imagine that it was an arbiter of even greater things to come, as Snyder later used Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" to create an electrifying opening sequence that ranked among the best film moments of that year.
"Perfect Day" (Jon Thomas Hall) The Signal (2007) – In the film itself, David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry's sci-fi/horror anthology actually substituted one cover for another, replacing Hall's version of the Lou Reed classic with Ola Podrida's interpretation of Joy Divison's "Atmosphere," which no doubt inspired a similar switch for its trailer. But Reed's melancholy bliss serves as a perfectly an ironic counterpoint to the mayhem in the movie.
"Sea of Love" (Cat Power) Revolutionary Road (2008) – Chan Marshall spent the last few years crafting indelible covers of a variety of familiar songs, but her version of The Honeydrippers' dreamy love song provides a perfect soundtrack to the desperate and inescapable deterioration of the marriage in Sam Mendes' 2008 drama.
"Sweet Child 'O Mine" (Taken By Trees) Last House on the Left (2009) – Although I admit I found this to be one of the most despicable movies of the last decade, the power of its trailer is absolutely undeniable thanks to Taken By Trees' amazing, fragile interpretation of this Guns & Roses classic. In fact, if you haven't seen the film, skip it and just stick with the trailer – you'll end up more satisfied, or at least less sickened.
"Sweet Dreams" (Marilyn Manson) Gamer (2009) – Although I've never been particular fond of Manson's reinvention of this Eurythmics song, it's a testament to the combination of sound and image that it seems to work so damn perfectly in the trailer for Neveldine and Taylor's human video game opus.
"Running Up That Hill" (Placebo) Daybreakers (2010) – Kate Bush has been the source of several amazing covers throughout her career, including an amazing version of "This Woman's Work" by Maxwell. But Placebo propelled themselves into the annals of music history with their version of "Running Up That Hill," which underscores the escalating action in the trailer for Michael and Peter Speirig's upside-down world where vampires are normal and humans the monsters.
"Mad World" (Gary Jules) The Crazies (2010) – Borrowing from the soundtrack to Richard Kelly's iconic Donnie Darko, director Breck Eisner and co. uses Gary Jules' terrific version of the Tears for Fears song of the same name to evoke the dread and poetry of his remake of George Romero's cult classic.