Album trailers are the new cool thing to do, in fact in the last week alone we’ve had an influx in videos that have announced some of the year’s most anticipated albums, but does this growing trend in music really get you amped up for a new release? Or would you just rather hear a new single?
Muse did it, so it must be cool, right? In the past week, the UK prog-electro-arena-rock superstars garnered the most attention with their trailer for and with it came the shock inclusion of dubstep music, which might be the new musical direction for album number six, The 2nd Law. Other artists such as The Killers, Frank Ocean, The Presets, Green Day and Oh Mercy have all announced their respective new albums via visual teasers. The definitive question though is, did it work? Is the anticipation killing you?
All the aforementioned bands displayed their very own distinctive trailer style. Muse’s was characteristically cinematic, The Killers and Frank Ocean simply unveiled the title of their new albums, with what looks like footage taken from an upcoming music video; but while The Killers used a decidedly dated aesthetic and synth score for their trailer for Battle Born, Ocean featured his new song, “Pyramids”, as the soundtrack to his teaser for the forthcoming Channel Orange. The epic ten-minute electro-jam eventually winding up online.
Likewise, Bloc Party also released a video to christen their forthcoming release, Four, but it’s less of a trailer and more or less just three-and-a-half minutes of studio footage with snippets of their new songs. The teaser for Green Day’s iUno! is more or less the same thing but shorter
Closer to home, Oh Mercy unveiled a more cyptic video for their new album, Deep Heat, with snatches of a feather-clad carnivalé dancer between tv static over a decidedly dirtier sounding track from the band. While The Presets’ Youth In Trouble is also fairly obscure, the duo instead using a whole site to create interest with a psychedelic clip displaying little information but the title.
Of all the trailers, the latter two were the most effective. They create intrigue and suspense, without giving anything away, leaving you wanting more. What are The Presets up to? While we know a new album isn’t too far away, we have no idea what direction they might take. Oh Mercy’s trailer is also impressive, but for the opposite reason. While the announcement of Deep Heat is a surprise, following the release of Great Barrier Grief only just last year, it’s the apparent new direction that the song exposes which grabs your attention.
While the same thing could be said of Muse, many fans are lamenting the inclusion of dubstep as a signal of the band’s new direction, but alternatively that it could be a joke. Isn’t that the wrong way of grabbing our attention? Doesn’t that just alienate the fans? Are you dreading the suggested new dubstep direction or does it make you salivate?
The YouTube hits are definitely in favour of Muse, and while thats not surprising given they’re one of the biggest bands in the world right now, compare their 1.5 million (and growing) views, to The Killers’ paltry 200,000 or so.
In the past week other bands have also announced their new albums to a flurry of excitement without the use of an album trailer. For example, UK indie trio The xx revealed details of their second album, Coexist, which sent the online community into an frenzy as witnessed by about every music blog in the world. The anticipation garnered by just an online Facebook post, sums up the necessity of trailers. If a band is good enough, if they have a devout enough audience, they don’t need a fancy trailer to create such anticipation.
Grizzly Bear also gave an announcement of their latest, as-yet-untitled record along with lead single and opening track, ‘Sleeping Ute’. This is ultimately the best way to whet the fans appetite and let the world know of your new release; because in essence, we just want new music, that’s literally what it’s all about – why string us along with a trailer?
Something also must be said of the new fad of releasing teaser trailers for music videos. Whilst this trend seems limited to major label pop stars for the time being, the practice seems rather pointless. The music videos for pop stars are usually generic, so why even bother? Maybe if the teaser trailer was for a music video that is ground-breaking, visually stunning or at the very least, wasn’t your run-of-the-mill clip, it could work.
The teaser for the video to Justin Bieber’s ‘Boyfriend’ has almost 1.5 million views, just under Muse’s The 2nd Law trailer, yet this is obviously an avenue for advertorial revenue for record companies; or does thirty seconds of Bieber dancing really make you jump for joy?
Didn’t think so.
This leads us to the more important question of whether major labels will push their signed artists to release album trailers, a new means to generate revenue through advertising and promoting other acts belonging to the record company.While its doubtful that Muse or The Killers did this for any reason other than to put their fans into a frenzy, it’s easy to see how this could be used as tool for record companies to extract more value from the industry’s more manufactured artists.
While not entirely new, album trailers could be one of the biggest trends in music to emerge in 2012. The amount of artists starting to use it suggests as much, and as music fans we need to ask if these trailers genuinely excite us or agitate us. If they’re done artistically, or in a manner that is interesting we can definitely see the appeal.
Although we’d hope that album trailers don’t follow the trend that the film Prometheus started, where earlier this year the film’s marketing campaign became a cannibalistic exercise where there were teasers for trailers and trailers for promos. Confused? Us too. Which is why, as music fans, we simply want what all music lovers want; and that, unsurprisingly, is new music. Nothing builds the anticipation for a new album than an incredible lead single.
Expect to see more and more trailers come out of the wood-work in the future. But be warned, you’ll need to dodge the inevitably cheesy One Direction ‘album number two’ trailer and the pandemonium that comes along with it.