Made for Love is a comedy thriller about Hazel (Cristin Milioti) escaping her deranged husband Byron (Billy Magnussen). Romano play’s Hazel’s father, Herbert. More importantly, it’s the latest horror story to deploy a sinister rendition of a ubiquitous pop song.
There’s a reason these bright, catchy tunes work in this context. When slowed down, the lyrics to “Crazy in Love” show just how similar love song lyrics are to ominous threats. Take the line: “Got me hoping you’ll page me right now, your kiss / Got me hoping you’ll save me right now.” When Beyoncé sings it? Infectious. When Romano mumbles it? Insidious.
Here’s a list of some of the best pop songs in recent years juxtaposed against seriously scary stories…
Candyman (2021): “Say My Name,” Destiny’s Child
For months now, we’ve all been saying Candyman’s name. It’s a sequel to the 1992 horror film of the same name about an ominous Chicago killer who shows up if you chant his name five times. Directed by Nia DaCosta and produced and co-written by Jordan Peele, Candyman was pushed back over a year from June 2020 to August 27, 2021. The trailer features a slowed-down version of Destiny Child’s 1999 hit “Say My Name,” and it’s the perfect pairing for a film just taunting you to say Candyman’s name.
Promising Young Woman (2020): “Stars Are Blind,” Paris Hilton
Emerald Fennell called upon Paris Hilton for her revenge thriller. Over a montage of Cassie (Carey Mulligan) falling for old pal Ryan (Bo Burnham), Hilton’s banger “Stars Are Blind” plays. There was no better match for a film aestheticized with bubbly scenery over a rage-filled plot. Stars might be blind — and so is Cassie in this scene — but the quality of this pairing is clear as day.
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Us (2019): “I Got 5 on It,” Luniz
Peele didn’t alter the 1995 weed anthem “I Got 5 on It” by Oakland hip-hop duo Luniz for his acclaimed horror film (also set in the Bay Area) Us — he just let the sleek song do its magic. In the trailer, Gabe (Winston Duke) blasts the throwback while on the road in Santa Cruz with his family. Much like the song, Us is a feel-good summertime jam — until it’s not.
Girl on the Train (2016): “Heartless,” Kanye West
For fans of Paula Hawkins’ popular novel, the film — starring Emily Blunt as a divorcee wrapped up in a missing persons investigation — is heartless, and the film debuted to middling reviews. It’s a shame, after all, it brought “Heartless” by Kanye West back into the cultural conversation.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015): “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce
All the thrillers want what Beyoncé has. For the infamous psycho-sexual romp starring cool kitchen-owner Dakota Johnson and that man Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey also used “Crazy in Love.” Six years later, Beyoncé slowly growling “Oh oh. Oh oh. Oh oh. Oh, no, no” lives rent-free in my brain. And I don’t want to evict it.