Sunday, April 08, 2007

HBO Has The Best Promos On Television

[Update: This is a blog entry about HBO Promos, and why I think they're great. However, I've noticed that many people reach this post when searching for "HBO Trailer Music" or something like that. So, I'm just going to tell you: as of April 2007, the song that's used in the most recent HBO promo for all their new shows is "Over My Head (Cable Car)" by "The Fray." Great song! In the Sopranos trailer and Six Feet Under trailer below, the songs are "Paint it Black" by "Eric Burdon & War" and "Breathe" by "Sia," respectively. Hope this helps. Feel free to still read the entry below: If you like what you read, you can subscribe to my blog using this link and go to my recent posting by clicking here.

Also, I've been thinking of amassing a list of all songs used in HBO promos, ever. I already have a dozen or so but it's been quite a challenge, because HBO doesn't publicly make this information available. If you'd be interested in reading/contributing to such a list, subscribe to my blog and send me an e-mail at to let me know of your interest. Thanks for reading!]

In honor of "The Sopranos" return:

I love HBO. HBO has given the world "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," "Rome," "Deadwood," and to a lesser extent, "Entourage" (insanely addictive yet not nearly as substantive as the other ones listed). But you know what I almost enjoy more than any of those shows? The promos.

HBO has the best promos on television, without question. These things are my favorite things to watch because they are brazenly manipulative; they make you desperately want to watch the actual show, and to subscribe to HBO if you haven't already.

The single most significant factor in their effectiveness is the fact that HBO has some great shows. When you draw upon great material, it's not that difficult to cut it together in a way that makes it compelling.

Here are some other reasons why I think they're so amazing:

1) They've mastered the art of the flash cut - In every single action movie trailer, and in some movies (e.g. "The Bourne Supremacy"), we've seen this editing technique at work. Flash quickly to some action that's going on, a character's dramatic pose/expression, whatever. Confuse the audience, leave them wanting more, and possibly, show them something really, really cool looking. Take this "Rome" preview for example:

(From Youtube user "Lylea 876")

Not their best work, but quite good for a TV show.

2) Their music choice is impeccable - Quentin Tarantino is known for his spot-on choices of music for his films. Typically, he picks about half the music for his movie before even writing the script. Tarantino recognizes that music has the ability to shape the way we view and perceive images, so he lets the music inform the decisions he makes for his movies. His song choices are so popular that if a song that gets picked for a Quentin Tarantino film (they are typically not very well-known to begin with), it quickly becomes engrained in the popular consciousness (think "Misirlou" from "Pulp Fiction" or "Battle Without Honor Or Humanity" from "Kill Bill").

HBO recognizes the importance of music as well. Take this "Sopranos" trailer and this extended "Six Feet Under" trailer for example:

(From Youtube user "AkaXander")

(From Youtube user "Cr0wAng3l")
The music becomes integral to the images, completing them.

3) They know their audience - Because HBO operates on a subscription format, they can cater to different tastes without fear of reprisal from studio executives. When you pay your $___/month for your HBO, it means you are helping to pay for both "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," for both "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Sex In The City." That's why we can see trailers like this one on the same channel as all the others above:

(From Youtube user "pud333")

HBO can appeal to adults that want serious, contemplative drama as well as people vying for some light and fluffy escapism; they don't need to market their shows to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

4) They know when to just let the dialogue speak for itself - No flash cutting, no music. Check out this brilliance:

(From Youtube user "MovieMan 5688")

We'll miss you after this season, Tony...

1 comment:

hectorhector said...

I love the Sopranos. What did you think about the new episode? What are your predictions about how the season will end?