Charlie’s Angels (2019)

After an original TV series running 1976-1981 and a film revival franchise with entries in 2000 and 2003, Charlie’s Angels returns to theatres this year with a reboot. Elizabeth Banks takes the helm as director, with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska taking up the mantle as the eponymous angels.

Notably, the director herself (also acting as Charlie’s assistant, Bosley, in the film) introduced the trailer in the micro-teaser; moreover, the title card points out that the trailer features a new single that appears to be a collaborative effort by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey, a trio likely intended to evoke the team dynamic of the film’s stars.

“Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe (2018) is the first song used, and notably also appeared in the recent trailer for Late Night. Like in that film, it’s used here to signify female empowerment; it speaks to an edition of Charlie’s Angels directed by a woman, post-#MeToo. A pause at the 20 second mark shows some effective audiovisual counterpoint, with a man’s choking coinciding with the lyric “a little bit of tender.”

“Bombastic” by Bonnie McKee (2015) follows the entrance of Sir Patrick Stewart as Charlie and the studio title card (Sony / Columbia). An extended clapping sequence is used to accompany some expository dialogue. At 0:48 the vocals enter and one can tell this song as likely paired with “Make Me Feel” for the aesthetic similarities as much as the underlying themes—dynamism and empowerment from a markedly female perspective.

However, it needs to be said that the transition at 0:55 to the next song is jarring. After only a few seconds of “Bombastic” proper, we hear Grande (and Cyrus and Del Rey, perhaps) in what sounds like the end of the forthcoming single and movie soundtrack tie-in, “Don’t Call Me Angel.” Not only is there an extra beat or so in this transition, but there is an abrupt key change and the lyrics from the two songs seem to say “no more mister nice guy; I’m coming for you... angel”—which is not a clear narrative.

Regardless, parts of “Don’t Call Me Angel,” by Grande, Cyrus, and Del Rey, feature through the rest of the trailer. This is punctuated by moments of dialogue without the music, and extra trailerized elements to keep the action sequences on point—such as at 2:26, with the inclusion of epic percussion alongside the gun shots.

The tie-in to launch a single as a part of the trailer reminds us of the trailer for Star Trek: Beyond, which prominently featured Rihanna’s single, “Sledgehammer” (2016). In an age where streaming revenue is dominant and therefore attention online is paramount for success, it only makes sense that such single-trailer partnerships might become more commonplace. (Notably, the forthcoming Charlie’s Angels soundtrack is co-executive produced by Grande.) 

Charlie’s Angels (2019) is set to hit theatres this November.

—Curtis Perry