Black Mirror – Season Four

As the holidays fast approach, one thinks to oneself – what a wonderful world. As is Netflix, which recently posted an series trailer (in addition to seven shorter promotional reels) for season four of its dystopian delight, Black Mirror.

On cue in the tradition of the creepy cover song, Louis Armstrong’s classic “What a Wonderful Worldserves as the aural counterpoint to the hellish visions this trailer presents in its second half. Interestingly, not only has this particular song already been used for this purpose, it was done in this year, as part of Geostorm’s campaign. Moreover, the latter with its theme of environmental catastrophe arguably has greater reason for the song’s use, given Armstrong’s musing of “skies of blue” and “clouds of white.”

But, back to Black: It’s a snappy, two-part, two-minute affair, opening first with an original track by an unknown composer. A more conventional, expected piece for Black Mirror aficionados, the dulcet bell tones of an arpeggiated minor chord immediately spells intrigue for the audioviewer as the off-screen narrator laments a world of “injustice, intolerance, and huge environmental challenges” – immediately reminding us of the oft-disconcerting plausibility of happenstances between the series’ world and our own.

A modal change in the music with the entrance of the piano accompanies a custom Netflix studio logo; a skittish rhythm leaves you guessing as to where the down beat exactly is, in contrast to the assertions of the voiceover that the on-screen character is “going to be fine.”

At 0:40 we get a buildup and a rhetorical question: “How long can the happiness last, anyhow?” At 0:43, cue the cover.

It’s yet to be determined whether the featured cover/licensed song is at the tail end of its current moment in trailers: “What a Wonderful World” works best for this Black Mirror trailer when held in consideration of its release date; on December 29th, most viewers will be in the throes of the holidays. Foregrounding that contrast in mood between the holidays and everything that is Black Mirror is nothing if not a clever move, even if the way it does so comes across as somewhat shoehorned in. 


– Curtis Perry