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'Up in the Air': One of the year's best use of an original song in a film

October 8, 2009 | 12:17 pm

The trailer for George Clooney's upcoming "Up in the Air" starts flashily enough, with the opening swagger of Iggy Pop's "The Passenger." But the film is more quiet and subtle, and builds with more grace than the scraggly, trailer-ready guitar notes let on.

Stick with the clip, and one can hear a glimpse of the film's musical centerpiece -- an original tune from heretofore unknown artist Sad Brad Smith. The song, "Help Yourself," arrives as Clooney's Ryan Bingham is making an emotional transition, and rolls along with a Simon & Garfunkel tenderness. It should be a shoo-in for an original song Oscar nomination -- if eligible, of course -- framing a pivotal moment in the film with warmth, as well as an irresistible melody.

Check it around the 1:30 mark, but watch the whole trailer. 

Set for limited release in early December, "Up in the Air" is Jason Reitman's follow-up to "Juno," and the soundtrack will be released on Rhino Records. Pop & Hiss will have more on the film as the release date arrives.

"Up in the Air," a recession-timed film about corporate and personal fulfillment, has a strong use of non-original music as well, including a credit-opening scene set to a sizzling, scotch-on-the-rocks-worthy cover of "This Land Is Your Land" from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

There's also a pretty sweet musical cameo from a vintage rapper, but Pop & Hiss will let your favorite search engine spoil that surprise.

-- Todd Martens

P.S. The strong declarative nature of the headline may be amended in the coming days, once Pop & Hiss takes in "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Where the Wild Things Are," among others.