The Hunger Games is probably one of the most anticipated movies of the year. And the movie delivers (read my review). With such standards, the need for a decent soundtrack becomes evident. The album’s producer T-Bone Burnett manages to do what he does best. The award-winning producer has come up with a very coherent album with a specific vibe and feel that doesn’t stray away from the movie’s theme.
While listening to The Hunger Games‘ soundtrack, titled: The Hunger Games (Songs from District 12 and Beyond), you cannot but feel that this is an album that would have stood alone as a credible work without an accompanying movie. The fact that there’s a movie to it is just the cherry on top. It’s a folky, country album. It is mellow, somewhat subdued in parts and also defiant in others. The sound it holds varies between realism and shrieking for liberty. It switches between being soothing and calling for arms.
It is a treat to listen to.
Opening with an eerie battle for strength by Arcade Fire, in a song titled “Abraham’s Daughter,” the bar is set very high for the album. Driven by incessant military beat, the band sings in Biblical terms about the power of sacrifice. It is the song that plays as the movie’s credits start rolling.
The album also features two songs by country superstar Taylor Swift, both of which are not the typical country pop sound she has become known for. Instead, Taylor has decided to let her sound grow on an album that is not hers. On “Safe & Sound” (full review of the song), she’s soothing, telling the character to whom she’s singing to “close your eyes, you’ll be alright. No one can hurt you now. Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound.” On the other offering for Taylor in the album, the song titled “Eyes Open” (full review of the song), she is the exact opposite. “Keep you eyes open,” she incessantly repeats as if her life depended on it.
Grammy-winning folk band The Civil Wars are also present on the album in two songs. The first is a feature on the aforementioned Safe & Sound, the second is one entirely their own called “Kingdom Come”. For a band known for their harmonies, they work their best here. Their harmonies get better as the song progresses. “Run, run, run away. Buy yourself another day. A cold wind’s whispering secrets in your ear. So low only you can hear…. It’ll all be over soon. I’ll be waiting here for you.”
Hip-hop artist Kid Cudi is featured on a song titled “The Ruler and the Killer.” Maroon 5 also contribute a haunting submission titled “Come Away To The Water,” a song that is very different from many of their personal material with lyrics that are dark and haunting. “Come away little lamb, come away to the slaughter. To the ones appointed to see this through. We are coming for you.”
New country band, The Pistol Annies with their frontwoman Miranda Lambert are present on “Run Daddy Run,” a folky song that’s very in the vein of what other country artists had given the soundtrack. It is reminiscent of the movie’s mood as well. “Daddy, can you hear the devil drawing near?” they sing with conviction.
Glen Hansard, known for his more subdued songs such as “Falling Slowly”, is outside of the character he has convinced people of. On the rocking song “Take the Heartland,” he shouts and pleads. “I’m not gonna put my head down. I’ll face it like a Fidel Castro, like a Che Guevara or a Fidel Castro. I’m gonna grab my bow and my life’s one last wish. And I’m gonna take the life and a knife. And I’m gonna shape my way and not fall.”
Young singer Birdy, known for her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” concludes the album with the chilling “Just a Game.” “There comes you to keep me safe from harm. There comes you to take me in your arms. Is it just a game? I don’t know. Is it just a game? I don’t know” she pleads.
The album also features many other artists such as The Decemberists, The Secret Sisters, Neko Case, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Punch Brothers, Jayme Dee and The Low Anthem. All of the 16 songs that make up the album help create a great companion for The Hunger Games.
After watching the movie, you cannot but be certain that The Hunger Games‘ soundtrack fits the movie perfectly. While listening to the songs, you can close your eyes and imagine Katniss struggling for her life, arming her bow and shooting at her enemies. And in a way, the soundtrack does that. It shoots at musical conformity by giving you a composite sound different from most of the music you hear nowadays. And that is always certainly welcomed.
1. Arcade Fire, “Abraham’s Daughter”
2. The Secret Sisters, “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”
3. Neko Case, “Nothing To Remember”
4. Taylor Swift, “Safe & Sound ft. The Civil Wars”
5. Kid Cudi, “The Ruler and The Killer”
6. Punch Brothers, “Dark Days”
7. The Decemberists, “One Engine”
8. The Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Daughter’s Lament”
9. The Civil Wars, “Kingdom Come”
10. Glen Hansard, “Take The Heartland”
11. Maroon 5 ft. Rozzi Crane, “Come Away To The Water”
12. Miranda Lambert, “Run Daddy Run feat. Pistol Annies”
13. Jayme Dee, “Rules”
14. Taylor Swift, “Eyes Open”
15. The Low Anthem, “Lover Is Childlike”
16. Birdy, “Just A Game”