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Trailer Tunes: 'American Hustle' & Led Zeppelin

At the intersection of movie trailers and music, what does the classic Led Zeppelin tune "Good Times, Bad Times" tell us about David O. Russell's upcoming flick?

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 or orchestral score, it's the music that most often makes a trailer.

This Week's Trailer: American Hustle, which re-teams David O. Russell with basically everybody from his most successful recent films. From The Fighter, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. From Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Jennifer Lawrence. All these regulars team up for a '70s-set crime drama surrounding the real-life ABSCAM investigation.

This Week's Tune: "Good Times, Bad Times," the lead single off of the very first (and self-titled) Led Zeppelin album, way back in 1969.

How Literal Is It? On the most literal level, I suppose that every film is about both good times and bad times. Of course, that's a sentiment that is so generalized as to mean nothing. In the delicate alchemy of a movie trailer, having a song that expressed relatable but vague sentiments is a big win.

How Emotional Is It? Remember how, with the Into the Furnace trailer, Christian Bale tied himself to Pearl Jam and neo-Classic Rock? Now, he's gone and tied his next movie to actual classic rock. If this doesn't tell you everything you need to know about where Bale has situated himself among the American public's imagination. Between Batman, The Fighter, and these two 2013 movies, he's as red-meat as you can get these days.

How Definitive Is It? It's not like Led Zeppelin is some obscure band, but they're not exactly wallpapering the sonic landscape of the movies these days either. Also? They're not cheap. Columbia Pictures is NOT kidding around.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: This trailer knows the audience it's playing towards. Smart moviegoers who would reflexively reject anything so on-the-nose as disco to score a movie that appears to be primarily about how trashy everybody looked in the '70s. Zeppelin is a smart choice. Rock music. Tough music. Music from a band that wallowed in bad behavior and was revered for it. Feels like the right choice from here.


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