The first trailer for Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story was a little lackluster, but an age-old trick that remixers discovered a long time ago helped to make it so much better.
Just add the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.”
“Sabotage” is basically cheating. It’s unnaturally effective. Think of the handful of trailers that officially used the song; Star Trek, Star Trek Beyond and Destiny 2’s live-action trailer. Picture that use of a soft, instrumental buildup that hums through the first part of the trailer as characters and settings are introduced, before exploding into a riotous, action-packed finale that promises a blockbuster event.
The pacing set by “Sabotage” is perfect for almost any trailer, as YouTubers who partake in trailer remix culture demonstrate time-and-time again. Watch this remixed version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which uses “Sabotage” succinctly.
“Sabotage” is rarely used in official settings, which adds to its magic. When Adam Yauch, one of the Beastie Boys’ leading frontmen, died in 2012, he declared in his will that Beastie Boys songs couldn’t be used in advertisements. It was a testament to his beliefs, that music and corporatism shouldn’t exist in harmony with each other.
Yauch’s decision isn’t unilateral, though; the surviving Beastie Boys could vote to license their songs for commercials or trailers, hence why their tracks appeared in ads for Star Trek and Destiny 2. Yauch’s words simply turned tracks like “Sabotage” into forbidden treats for trailer artists; for people who wanted to use a track seemingly designed for minute-and-a-half long trailers.
“Sabotage” became an anthem of rebellion.
There are certain tracks that are overused by studios to make their trailers seem as cool as possible; Kanye West’s “Power” should never be used for any trailer or commercial ever again, and neither should slow-downed versions of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” That fatigue hasn’t happened with “Sabotage” yet.
In fact, “Sabotage” helped move trailer culture forward. It paved the way for one of the most interesting aspects of the form; songs driving visual choreography. Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver and John Wick all use songs with cinematic breakdowns, like “Sabotage,” as a way of coordinating punches to action-filled moments happening on-screen.
Music helps to spice up otherwise bland trailers. That isn’t a particularly new observation, but it’s something we’re reminded of every time a new, fan mad cut is made. The first trailer for Solo always felt like it was lacking something, but I could never quite put my finger on it.
Turns out it was “Sabotage.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released on May 25.