With this past weekend’s arrival of the much-anticipated movie “The Hunger Games” this past weekend, came the simultaneous release of the soundtrack, simply titled: “The Hunger Games (Songs from District 12 and Beyond).”
Producer T Bone Burnett was given the tall order of compiling a soundtrack derived from the complex sentiments and themes of the story.
How then does one convey the self-sacrificing, independent and fierce persona of the story’s main character Katniss in a futuristic dystopian backdrop? Oddly enough, Burnett rises to the challenge by enlisting a variety of musical artists such as Kid Cudi, Taylor Swift and Maroon 5.
Although one might presume there to be a disparity in style and a resulting hodgepodge album, “The Hunger Games” truly captures the powerful feel to the movie/book.
The tracks are unified under an alternative-folk banner, each with their own take on the story’s motifs. The melancholy of the story’s premise—a young girl forced to fight to the death against others her age, while struggling with inward feelings of love and pain—easily resonates throughout the disc.
While there are a few weak tracks on the album, there are plenty of powerful ones to carry the listener through. Two of the best actually make an appearance during the film’s credits. “Abraham’s Daughter” is a haunting lullaby-like endeavor by Arcade Fire. The use of intense drums and folksy guitar is a perfect fit for the movie’s atmosphere.
“Safe and Sound” is unique in that it is quite different from the usual Taylor Swift offerings. She gets a helpful boost from the likes of The Civil Wars, resulting in a beautifully harmonized, but saddening song.
Maroon 5 likewise takes a step out of their element, following suit with a chilling tune. The song focuses on the cruelty of the games in the story, as the main character is portrayed as a “little lamb come to the slaughter.”
One of the most pertinent tracks is a bluegrass/folk track by The Carolina Chocolate Drops titled “Daughter’s Lament.” It fully captures the heartbreak and pain Katniss carries from the event of losing her father.
There are other decent tracks on the disc, but the album finishes on a perfect note with the song “Just a Game,” by Birdy. It focuses on the complex feelings of love Katniss wrestles with when attempting to survive.
The repeated lyric “Is it just a game?/I don’t know” showcases this part of the story— where Katniss pretends to love someone as part of the game to survive.
As a whole, T Bone Burnett did a fantastic job of entrapping the feel of “The Hunger Games” story into a musical compilation. The album does not disappoint in the least.