“Music syncs move in waves of popularity. In 2021, Covid breathed new life into all kinds of period nostalgia,” says Evan Buist, MD of music licensing platform Melodie, “There’s certainly something reassuring in familiar sounds.”
And while “reassuring” could mean the use of established tracks or those with a retro feel, there was more going on in sync this year.
“Organic was another word we’d see a lot in music briefs – everything had to be real, ideally recorded at home,” says Vikram Gudi, Director of Elephant Music, a London-based production music company specialising in trailers. The requirement for more organic tracks can also possibly be tracked back to TikTok and its rough-and-ready DIY sound to make ads for the platform blend better with native content.
“The advertising market was looking for hopeful tracks, too. There was never a scary moment, even in horror trailers,” Gudi explains.
IKEA Fortune Favours the Frugal - “Making It Better” by The Barons Ltd
“This 60-second commercial throws back to that funky, soulful Motown sound with “Making It Better” by The Barons Ltd,” says Evan Buist of Melodie.
"Given its 1971 release, the lyrics, “people have said that a change is soon gonna come”, was likely originally aimed at the American civil rights movement. Now, it’s cleverly recycled to pump energy and vibe into addressing climate change, specifically, highlighting IKEA’s commitment to becoming fully circular by 2030."
Burberry Hero - "Two Weeks" by FKA Twigs
Musiio client Hipgnosis Song Fund had huge success this year with Burberry’s global Hero campaign starring Adam Driver, which features “Two Weeks”, co-written by Emile Haynie, who has also produced Lana Del Rey and Kanye West.
Co-written and performed by FKA Twigs, the track was already a standout from the British singer’s 2014 debut, LP1.
"Again, we see the massive value of familiarity in song catalogues," says Mack Hampson, Commercial Director of Musiio. It’s also a perfect pairing for the underwater visual with its distinct lack of high-frequency sounds.
Shirley Trailer - "The Game" by Murugan Thiruchelvam & Martyn Corbet
This Production Music Award-winning sync comes from London-based Elephant Music. The studio’s bombastic approach to trailer music has earned placements for A Quiet Place II, Peacemaker and Army of The Dead. However, the unlikely placement of “The Game” for thriller Shirley inadvertently helped amplify a new trend: the quirky horror trailer.
Vikram Gudi, the founder of Elephant Music and Protege music school, explains it was an unexpected fit. “2021 saw hybridisation of styles: dark but funny. In horror, people didn’t want it to be too scary. The market felt everything was too dark; people didn’t want to be scared even more,” he says.
PlayStation España Dreams - “Jungle” by MooA (Jorge Barrallo & Ariadna Castellanos)
Blanco y Negro is the leading independent record company in Spain, and is one of Europe’s leading labels for electronic music. Their artist MooA had the driving track “Jungle” featured in a preview of ever-expanding PS4 game, Dreams. The track is from concept album Monster-in-Labyrinth which has a mixed reality element that lets you explore the labyrinth in an app called Monster AR.
“The track also found sync success on the primetime Spanish show H.I.T. on state broadcast network TVE,” says Eva Santamaria of Blanco y Negro. The popular show has proven fertile ground for the Spanish indie label, with further placements for artist Lice and the track “Break Me Down”.
Nomadland soundtrack - "Epilogue" by Olafur Arnalds
Another obvious stand-out from the Hipgnosis catalogue was Olafur Arnalds’ “Epilogue” in Chloe Zhao’s Oscar-winning Nomadland starring Frances McDormand.
The placement demonstrates the power of search in a strong back catalogue. The Icelandic composer posted “Epilogue” to his Soundcloud eight years earlier, and the award-winning Nomadland precipitated its first full release as part of the film’s soundtrack. Even though the film is primarily underscored by Ludivico Einaudi's music, Arnalds' track sits naturally alongside it.
#PasiónNoEsPosesión campaign - Swit Eme ft. Santa Salut
“We are creating a pool of new urban music artists/composers with a lot of projection on the music scene, including Swit Eme,” says Blanco y Negro’s Eva Santamaria.
For this placement, rappers Swit Eme and Santa Salut teamed up for the #PasiónNoEsPosesión campaign against gender-based violence among young people.
This selection truly highlights the power of local voices. Santamaria also explains: “considering that it is a very specific niche, for a very specific audience, we are opening audience frontiers with this campaign.”