From Billie Eilish to Stevie Wonder, we’ve found the best 10 songs used within video game trailers to give them a little extra pizzazz.
Video games are certainly no stranger to hype reels. With only a few minutes to grab the interest of gamers, many companies smartly licence popular songs to make their trailers go viral. And oh boy does it work, so we’ve scoured the Internet for 10 of the best.
So then, in no particular order:
#1 – Mad World by Gary Jules
Gears of War
Mad World has been thrown into all sorts of television shows and movies, so it makes sense video games would borrow it as well. The debut of Gears was a great fit for the somber, melancholic track – showcasing a world filled with death, destruction and otherworldly foes. It’s a stark contrast to the series’ more modern trailers, but we’ll get to that later…
#2 – Skeletons by Stevie Wonder
Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar Games has always known how to make a spectacular trailer and Grand Theft Auto V was no exception to that. Case in point: Skeletons was an inspired choice. Sure there’s a relatively upbeat tune in line with the series’ more zany humour, but the lyrics behind the song (read: skeletons in the closet) synced perfectly to the narrative the game told.
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#3 – Power by Kanye West
Saints Row the Third
In 2011, the world was Kanye crazy. As a result, Power was used in an abundance of video game and movie trailers. Makes sense – it’s an absolute banger. Perhaps its best inclusion was for Saints Row The Third – the GTA clone that was known for taking things up to 11. This trailer is evidence of that, with a whole lot of fisticuffs and a level of slow-mo that Zack Synder would be proud of.
#4 – I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire by The Ink Spots
Choosing a song from the 1940s might not be the most obvious choice, but it helped set the vibe for the post-apocalyptic wasteland that Fallout 3 offered gamers. It was a playground stuck in the stone age that became a classic for the years that followed. If anything, more video game trailers should look to the past like this.
#5 – bury a friend by Billie Eilish
As far as video game trailers go, this effort for Gears 5 is honestly pretty boring. We’re guessing Xbox thought so too, which is why the inclusion of the ever-popular Billie Eilish was a smart way to turn some heads. The next year she would go on to record her very own 007 theme, so can’t say she’s not diversifying.
#6 – Iron by Woodkid
Assassin’s Creed Revelations
Ubisoft is well known for having some excellent taste with its trailer music, but they really outdid themselves with Assassin’s Creed Revelations. During a time when video game trailers were incredibly CGI driven, that gave the trailer makers a great opportunity to pace out the action with the ebbs and flows of the song. It remains a favourite for Assassin’s Creed fans even 10 years later.
#7 – The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens
The Borderlands series has always been known to be left-field and unpredictable, and its choice of trailer music doesn’t shy away from that. So what better way to show off the game’s colourful and chaotic ‘jungle’ then as you bop away to a Tokens classic. The comedic timing of the initial abrupt stop is also perfection. An honourable mention also has to go to Short Change Hero by The Heavy, which fans of the game will know as its opening track.
#8 – Machine Gun by Portishead
Metro: Last Light
Portishead have always been known as pioneers of the trip hop music genre, so their pairing with the Metro: Last Light makes a lot of sense. After all, the shooter series is pretty experimental itself – set in the underground train tunnels of a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where radioactive mutants are ready to take you out. It’s tense, unnerving and you never know what to expect next.
#9 – The Catalyst by Linkin Park
Medal of Honor
Does the inclusion of Linkin Park really make sense in a war game. Look, not really, but Medal of Honor was trying really hard to combat against the juggernaut of Call of Duty, so choosing one of the most popular rock bands to help sell their trailer seemed like a good idea. Spoilers: it didn’t really work and the game was ultimately a flop.
#10 – Face My Fears by Hikaru Utada & Skrillex
Kingdom Hearts II
Okay so this one is cheating a little. That’s because Face My Fears is actually an original song specifically made for Kingdom Hearts III. Turns out Skrillex is actually a long-time Kingdom Hearts superfan. Who knew?
His inclusion might be odd, but the American DJ provides just the right amount of flair to make this song incredibly memorable – even if the actual game is completely incoherent to most.
You can read more about this topic over at the Gaming Observer.