I love overly dramatic cover songs, the kind you hear in movie trailers where some lady is stage-whispering "He did the mash, he did the Monster Mash" while the Inception sound blasts over shots of a robot wizard tornado. I play them in two moods: feeling extremely dramatic and pumped up, or feeling goofy. So I took a few dozen of these songs and I made a dramatic, embarrassing Spotify playlist.
Some of these are from trailers, some are featured in actual movies, and some only wish they were. Some are kind of thoughtful, and some might even not sound silly to you. Some don't even sound silly to me, but they sound very silly to my wife. But my wife listens to Hamilton so she's living in a glass house.
Some ("Beat It") are parodies, and some ("Hit the Road Jack") are actually good, and some are both — like the Auralnauts' stupid and beautiful cover of "You Spin Me Round," from their YouTube parody of dramatic movie trailers:
Some are only half-ironic: the artist Hidden Citizens has made an entire album of cookie-cutter "epic trailer versions" of pop songs, and I can't tell how much they're joking. Kyte's Sigur-Rós-style "Solsbury Hill" manages to make the world's most famous movie trailer song and make it sound even more like a movie trailer song, while still being actually good.
Some are better than the original, like Gary Jules's "Mad World" (from Donnie Darko) or Johnny Cash's "Hurt," and ten others that you will defend in the comments.
All of these songs are extra, because they use goofy source material, or because they hit every cliché of a dramatic cover, or because they are any non-jazz version of "Nature Boy," or because playing a dark version of a happy song is inherently melodramatic.
If you watched The Leftovers, you remember cracking up in the middle of a tragic scene as you heard "I've got chills... they're multiplying..." and realised that Damon Lindelof had chosen to soundtrack a divorce with a cover of "You're the One That I Want." From Grease.
But these songs can still move you, raise goosebumps and tug at your throat, because the human brain is easily manipulated by certain sounds and keys and vocal styles. Give in. Cry to the silly music.
Not every dramatic cover makes it to Spotify. So below are some that only live on YouTube, but which still deserve your attention.
This last version is edited from a trailer for Netflix's Death Note. A commenter claims it's E^ST's cover from Like a Version, but it sounds much more trailer-ised.
Thanks to members of our parent company's music Slack channel, to Deadspin's Tom Ley who shares my love for these cheesefests, and to every movie studio that needed to simultaneously trigger tension and nostalgia.