Your Friday Playlist: 20 Artists You’ve Heard in TV and Film

Morgan Herrmann - April 8, 2017

It’s a pretty common occurrence to watch a trailer or any other form of media advertisement, only to forget the background music that made the trailer itself so memorable. What was that song that set the comedic tone of the trailer, and who was the artist with the dark cinematic cover of an 80s classic? Here are 20 artists whose songs have definitely crossed your path, even though you might not know it.

  1. "Dear God" (ft. Sydney Wayser) - Lawless - This song is an orchestrated, cinematic cover of XTC’s 1986 classic “Dear God.” While the original is upbeat and cynical towards the existence of God, Lawless’ version exhibits a much darker, haunting version of this classic 80s melody complemented by chilling vocals, and has been featured in trailers for Outlander and Spotlight, among others.

  2. Florence and the Machine - "Stand By Me" - Florence and the Machine is known for a cinematic, Celtic sound characterized by a deep vibrato. While many of their popular songs are commonly heard on the radio, other songs have been featured in films and games such as Final Fantasy, delivering masterful arrangements of cinematic vocals and instrumentals that give of the vibes of a world of myths and the medieval.

  3. Kaleo - "Way Down We Go" - Since the arrival of the second Logan trailer, the Icelandic band Kaleo has emerged as a hidden gem that combines the sounds of X Ambassadors and Arctic Monkeys, with raw vocals and rugged guitar that truly gives the listener the feeling of travelling through the wilderness and experiencing pure lone adventure.

  4. Sweet - "Fox on the Run" - A popular 70s rock band, Sweet had hits including Fox on the Run and Ballroom Blitz. A general media trend is causing the resurgence of classic songs, bringing the band’s songs back to popularity through Suicide Squad and currently the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 trailer.

  5. Ki:Theory - "Enjoy the Silence" - Ki:Theory has released a cover of an 80s classic, continuing with the trend of classic revivals analogous to the state of Hollywood as it reboots classic franchises as well. In this dark, electrical cover, the band has reimagined a Depeche Mode hit with an even darker, twisted sound that makes the perfect backing for the Ghost in the Shell trailer.

  6. John Murphy - "Sunshine" - Also known as Adagio in D Minor, Murphy’s instrumental is simply a powerful, slow chord progression that despite its simplicity, is incredibly emotional as it builds over the course of four minutes. It begins with the supposed sounds of a solar flare, and rises to a massive orchestral production. It has been featured in trailers for Kickass, X-men: Days of Future Past, among others.

  7. Banks - "Waiting Game" - Banks is a relatively new artist whose work borders on alternative. The mentioned song is featured in trailers for The Originals, Divergent, and The Longest Ride. Like many of her songs, it is a subtly powerful piece packed with tension and a deliberate pace. The tone easily could have led this track to be on the top of a 50 Shades Soundtrack - because despite the poor quality of the film, the songs paired alongside it have always been perfect.

  8. MIA - "Paper Planes" - It’s that song with the extremely loud gunshots and ka-ching sound effects, with children singing in the background. It was used heavily in the stoner comedy Pineapple Express, and it’s overall just a great song to listen to. Have you ever noticed that songs with children singing in the chorus are extremely catchy?

  9. "Of Verona" - Breathe - This group and song in particular are known for their slow, deliberate pace. Many of their songs have been used for MTV films and television shows, one being Teen Wolf, among others. Breathe in particular has a weightless, transcendent feel, yet a tone similar to that of Banks’ Waiting Game.

  10. Lana del Rey - "Once Upon a Dream" - Lana del Rey is a popular artist, famous for songs like Summertime Sadness and National Anthem. However, she has also been a key element of many film soundtracks, recording work for The Great Gatsby (Young and Beautiful) along with Maleficent (Once Upon a Dream). Her deep range and cinematic approach makes her work impossible to stop listening to.

  11. Angus and Julia Stone - "Big Jet Plane" - This is one of those songs that manages to sound hopeful and brings you to tears at the same time. The narrative tells the story of a girl wishing to be free from the boring life that binds her, imagining an escape with a stranger to an unknown world of adventure, complemented by a memorable cello solo woven throughout. It has been used in several trailers as well as the film Edge of Seventeen.

  12. HEALTH - "Blue Monday" - This song was originally made famous by New Order in 1983. While HEALTH’s version maintains the style and elements of the original, the faster pace and stronger beat creates the perfect vibe for the Atomic Blonde trailer.

  13. Broods - "Free" - This synth pop track was released in the summer of 2016, and has since been featured in countless advertisements and television shows. It has been most recently featured in an opening scene to Supergirl.

  14. Arctic Monkeys - "Do I Wanna Know?" - With one of the most memorable guitar riffs of any recent song, Do I Wanna Know? is a rock ballad recorded with traditional instruments, which can be rather difficult to find in an age of trap and dubstep. It has been used in many trailers and ads, most notably in the series Peaky Blinders.

  15. Marian Hill - "Got It" - It is easy to say there is no band that exists that is anything close to Marian Hill in terms of style. The duo combines a unique, technical sound with beautiful vocals, with songs ranging from fragmented, electronic dubstep to the song Got It, which has perfect saxophone solos mixed with country harmonies. The band has been exposed to consumers through Apple Music and film trailers including but not limited to The Longest Ride.

  16. U2 - "The Troubles" - Remember that time U2 released an album to the world for free, and everyone freaked out over their iPhones having a free album they didn’t want? As it turns out, that album had a huge number of songs that were completely overlooked. This song by U2 has been featured in many promotional segments, including the recent trailers for The Walking Dead. It is a haunting song complemented by a female vocalist and a full orchestra.

  17. Skylar Grey - "Coming Home Part II" - Skylar Grey recorded and released a version of this song without the rap, and produced a piece that was more powerful than the original. It is usually featured in promotional material with the theme of soldiers returning home, loved ones coming back to life, and other types of plot lines. One such show was Resurrection on ABC.

  18. Barns Courtney - "Glitter and Gold" - Barns Courtney is a relatively new group with not many songs to their name, but each one is a blend of rock and country that the world needs more of. This track in particular has lined NBA advertisements along with the trailer for the recent film The Founder.

  19. Zayde Wolf - "Man or a Monster" - Zayde Wolf is an independent songwriter who creates countless cinematic pieces that are defining a new genre within independent music. Movie studios, if you noticed, now use cinematic independent music as often as they would instrumental tracks, for the reason that these instrumentals combine the storytelling of vocals with the passion and action of a full orchestra.

  20. Ruelle - "Madness, Bad Dream, Deep End" - If there is one artist on this entire list who deserves ultimate recognition, it is Ruelle. Ruelle (Maggie Eckford) is a songwriter who has branched from her Nashville roots to completely define a new genre of songwriting. Her songs are each completely different, with instrumentals ranging from a use of full orchestras, native drums, Asian wind instruments, to piano and electronic synth. The vocals do not overpower the instrumentals, and the instrumentals never overtake the song itself. However, they could each stand alone and manage to complement each other perfectly in a way that no current artist has done. It’s no wonder her songs have been featured on 13 Reasons, The Walking Dead, Scream: The Series, Shannara Chronicles, Shadowhunters, Teen Wolf, The Loft, The Expanse, as well as many other films and shows not listed here. Give her music a listen and you’ll be like me, with all forty-something of her songs on a constant loop.

Morgan Herrmann

Morgan Herrmann is a freshman currently majoring in Digital Media Design in the School of Engineering. Her favorite film genres include comic book films and science fiction. Outside of class, Morgan enjoys working on drawing, novel writing, and game development. She is a part of the Write On! program at the Kelly Writers House and is also developing a cosplay and costuming organization within the university.