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The ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Trailer & Zola Jesus's 'Skin'

At the intersection of movie trailers and music, what does Zola Jesus’s 'Skin' tell us about the latest cinematic iteration of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers?

There's always so much to unpack about a movie trailer: the stars, the plot, how much of the plot is being totally given away. But in many cases, the part of the trailer that sticks with you the longest is the music. Be it a pop song or a piece of orchestral score, it's the music that most often makes a trailer.

This Week's Trailer: Romeo and Juliet, the latest screen adaptation of the Shakespeare play, this time scripted by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellowes.

This Week's Tune(s): "Skin," by wailing chanetuse Zola Jesus, off of her 2011 release Conatus.

How Literal Is It? The song is a fairly elliptical collection of lyrics about falling and pain and having enough of the heartache. It’s almost impossible for it to be too on the nose because there isn’t really a nose.

It sounds like a teenage girl’s inner soul, so there’s that.

How Emotional Is It? For a love story about teenagers, obviously you want the emotions to feel as grandiose as possible, and that’s what Jesus’s vocal on this track does. Residing as it does somewhere between Florence Welch and Rihanna in “Stay” mode, Zola Jesus employs her gothic wails and sparse piano to paint a picture that Romeo and Juliet and their doomed love can easily fit into.

How Definitive Is It? Jesus had a song of hers used in one of the Elysium trailers, but overall, she hasn’t been too exposed in the trailer game. That said, those vocal similarities of hers recall every trailer that has used Florence or Sia or “Stay,” so it might sound more familiar than it’s intended to.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: It’s not a super great song that will leave a giant impression on audiences or anything. But it’s appropriate to the film and the genre, and it sounds like a teenage girl’s inner soul, so there’s that. No one’s going to be talking about “that trailer with the Zola Jesus” song, but it’s a solid role player.


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