This past Wednesday, the whole world stopped and was beholden to the new Game of Thrones season 7 trailer. According to HBO, the trailer was watched 61 million times across digital platforms. For those of you keeping score at home, that is a new world record. However, as one of the most highly regarded series on television, Game of Thrones is held to a higher standard than most, and so too are the trailers. Fans of the show wait for months for their first peek at the upcoming season, and when it finally arrives, these trailers are deconstructed and analyzed religiously in an effort to glean tiny insights into what the new season has in store.
Revered as works of art in their own right, Game of Thrones trailers are famous for their thoughtfully selected musical accompaniment, which typically feature potent lyrics that audiences in the know recognize as apropos. However, season 7’s trailer broke this pattern, instead opting to make characters the narrators and use music more subtly. The trailer features an orchestral arrangement that begins with violins lingering over a high note before making way for the primary motif: an ascending two-note figure played arco on the double bass, evoking a Jaws-like sound. From here, the trailer music only builds. With each break, a new layer of percussion and strings is overlaid over the previous, adding to the intensity as the trailer ramps up towards a syncopated climax. As always, the trailer masterfully interweaves sounds of marching, church bells, and the clashing of swords into the musical progression. Still, despite the effective use of orchestral music, the trailer lacks some of the punch that allusions to the narrative through lyrics so readily bring.
This week on Trailaurality, as we look forward to the seventh season of Game of Thrones, we listen back to a couple of the series’ most memorable trailers, and the songs that make them great.
The trailer for the second season of Game of Thrones immediately cemented the series into trailer enthusiasts’ hearts with its use of Florence and the Machine’s “Seven Devils.” In addition to being a powerful song featuring ethereal choral sections and a haunting yet simple piano motif, the lyrics resonate with both the onscreen action and the overall themes of the series. “Seven devils all around you! Seven devils in my house! See they were there when I woke up this morning, I’ll be dead before the day is done.” Game of Thrones is rife with betrayal as factions from opposite ends of the world clash as their leaders work towards ultimate conquest. For fans in the know, the number seven is of particular significance in Westeros, as there are seven Kingdoms, seven Gods, and seven Hells.
After an emotionally traumatic end to the fifth season of Game of Thrones, the trailer for the show’s sixth season continued to play on fans’ heart strings. A beautifully covered version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” by James Vincent McGrow carries all of the weight of the series and offers little hope for its characters, nor its fans. The familiar lyrics ring: “The world was on fire and no one could save me but you. It’s strange what desire can make foolish people do.” These lyrics, powerful on their own, had added significance after a fan-favourite character was infamously killed off in what the audience perceived to be an impulsive and short-sighted series of events. For the makers of the show, systematically murdering fan-favourites has become a twisted, wicked game.
Indeed, the wicked game undoubtedly continues this summer. Winter is coming July 16th, 2017.
– Andrew Sproule