Excuse us for being a bit late to the party with this review, but we were busy reading, watching, and listening to anything Hunger Games related. Now that we’re all caught up, we join the other fans of the series that are happy to know that the book, movie, and the Hunger Games Soundtrack, ‘The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond,’ all made it to the top of their respective charts…at the same time. The film, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, boasts a soundtrack that series and music lovers alike will enjoy. The album, produced by T-Bone Burnett, has an eclectic and mostly complimentary group of artists, with a more folksy than not sound. While the majority of the songs on the album are perfect for a train trip across Panem, or even as you run errands around your neighborhood, there are a few notable stand-outs, as well as a couple of miscues.
It’s hard to go wrong with an opening track by Arcade Fire, and this soundtrack has not. “Abraham’s Daughter” is quick and dark, with rhythmic percussion. Regine Chassagne’s quiet vocals add an eerie quality, which fits well with the story. The song’s Biblical title, references Abraham’s sacrifice, again fitting with the story.
As with most music by Neko Case, her song “Nothing to Remember” adds a touch of gold to the album. This track has a catchy melody, and lyrics that are fitting of both the story’s protagonist, as well as others struggling to make it to some sort of finish line.
Both Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars contribute individual songs to the soundtrack; Swift with her song, “Eyes Open,” and The Civil Wars with their song, “Kingdom Come.” They join forces, however, on what is probably the soundtrack’s most well-known song, “Safe and Sound.” Swift provides lead vocals while The Civil Wars back her up, both vocally and instrumentally. Although Swift’s voice is perfect for this folksy ballad, it’s the harmonies provided by Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars that truly give this track a haunting substance.
Of the tracks that seem a bit off for this soundtrack are Kid Cudi’s “The Ruler and the Killer,” as well as Glen Hansard’s, “Take the Heartland.” Kid Cudi’s song is heavy on drums and groaning lyrics, which seems out of place on this mostly folk album. Hansard does add some heat and energy with his song, but again seems a bit too “rock” and thus a sore thumb amongst the rest of the tracks.
Toward the end of the compilation, Maroon 5 featuring Rozzi Crane contributes to the album with, “Come Away to the Water.” This song strays away from the music Maroon 5 has been releasing of late. The song has almost a gospel quality to it. The track is both slow and desperate, and seems to mimic a drug-induced tranquility, which is appropriate as the lyrics seduce a “little lamb to the slaughter.”
The soundtrack ends with Birdy’s “Just a Game,” a poetic tribute seemingly just for the tributes of District 12. The piano and muted percussion is a perfect platform for Birdy’s soulful voice, and wraps up the album with the perfect piece of sorrow and hope.
Overall, just as the book and movie, ‘The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond,’ soundtrack is a hit. Though there are times when certain songs seem a bit heavy for this mellow album, they too contribute an interesting layer to the story being told. Whether or not you have read the book and/or seen the movie, this compilation is still worth checking out. Although the songs add to the plot and heart of the story, they do still stand on their own as some fantastic music.
Written by Linda Turk
OurVinyl | Contributor