I think by now it's safe to assume that the trailer for The Last of Us Part II was a more-than-welcome surprise for many of us, not in the least because of the beautiful and solemn song sung by Ellie. This song, titled 'Through the Valley', originally written and performed by Shawn James & The Shapeshifters, has gone on to reach the top of the UK Spotify Viral 50 Chart after the trailer's release at last week's PlayStation Experience.
In a thread on Reddit's /r/gaming subreddit about the new trailer, the artist himself responded to the positive reactions to the trailer and its music. In this thread, Shawn James says that he was aware that the song had been licensed by Naughty Dog, although he didn't know that his song would end up in the trailer for The Last of Us Part II. In one of the comments, James explains what the process of licensing the song was like and explains some of the song's religious themes and its use of rewritten Bible passages:
The process is pretty simple. We came to an agreement and that was that. Most of it was a "hurry up and wait" situation after. I trusted that if they wanted to use the song, that they must of had some plan as to how they would do it. I think it turned out pretty awesome.
Because I grew up in a pentecostal upbringing, I pretty much recited it from memory and made adjustments to suit what I wanted to say the song.
Triple A developers usually license well-known songs for their trailers, using familiar songs and lyrics to draw the public in. Shawn James, however, is far from world famous. The focus on his song in the trailer may very well change that. If you want to take a look at James' rather extensive discography you can go here to stream his music on Bandcamp.
The Last of Us Part II continues the story of Joel and Ellie as they travel through an inhospitable world taken over by a mind-controlling fungus which changed the population of the world into a somewhat different take on the zombie formula. The sequel is scheduled to release at some point in 2018 as a PlayStation 4 exclusive and is apparently going to have a theme of hate contrasting the first part's theme on love.