Happy West Coast Wednesday! Yeah, this one is a little late for me. First off, my latest review at Steampunk Chronicle went up and I can now confirm that I will be at The Steampunk Empire Symposium in late April! More on that later, but let’s get down to what you came here for.
Ever since T-Bone Burnett was announced as the music supervisor for The Hunger Games, I’ve probably been more excited for the soundtrack than the movie. Even more so when Glen Hansard revealed he had been writing songs for the movie. With the elements, it was assuring me that the soundtrack was going to be my anachronistic retrofuturistic dream come true.
Thank you, T-Bone Burnett, for answering my prayers.
While The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond is more of an official companion album to the book and the movie than a soundtrack, it’s so fitting for the overall feeling of the universe. As a Hunger Games fan, the running themes and references to the books make me so joyful to know that the artists involved actually tried to fit within the universe. As a retrofuturist, the sounds were a fantastic blending of the old of District 12 and the intruding future of the Capitol.
The main single for the album was ‘Safe and Sound’ by Taylor Swift and Civil Wars. When I first heard it, I was genuinely impressed by ‘Safe and Sound’ due to the fact it wasn’t a typical Taylor Swift song. It showed a lot of emotion and real growth for Swift. However, it might have been the assistance from Civil Wars that might have helped on that one. I wasn’t as impressed with ‘Eyes Open’ due to the shades of her usual wide-eyed-everything-is-cotton-candy-ness popping out during the song. However, maybe writing from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen is what makes her a better songwriter.
The soundtrack has an interesting mix of mainstream and independent artists on the listing. Arcade Fire opens the album with the haunting ‘Abraham’s Daughter’, which takes a turn on the story of Abraham and Isaac that’s ultra-fitting of Katniss. Glen Hansard has two tracks on the album. Well, two written by Glen Hansard. His track, ‘Take The Heartland’, is an intense track that feels like you’re right in the arena and holding your own in the Cornucopia. His other track, ‘Come Away to the Water’, is performed on the album by Maroon 5 and singer Rozzi Crane. Adam Levine’s voice isn’t as intense as Hansard’s, but it still carries across a strong emotional impact. It’s dark, fluid and fitting for the universe.
The most surprising track for me though was ‘The Ruler and The Killer’ by Kid Cudi. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the end result was a dark and reptilian track about totalitarian power. Very fitting for President Snow, the series’ main villain.
Along with that Cudi track, the ‘Beyond’ side of the title is covered fairly well. ‘Lover is Childlike’ by The Low Anthem reminds me a lot of Annie and Finnick of District 4 and ‘One Engine’ by The Decemberists is a high speed track that brings back mental images of the train ride into the Capitol.
The best tracks for me though are the one that really seemed to pay attention to the source material. ‘Nothing To Remember’ by Neko Case, while not mentioning Katniss directly, gets right into her head and puts her personality and emotional distance to song. My absolute favorite track on the album though is ‘Daughter’s Lament’ by Carolina Chocolate Drops. I’ve been a fan of the Drops for a while now (and will be reviewing Leaving Eden sometime soon), and I was extremely excited to see that they would be on the soundtrack. The Rhiannon Giddens written and lead track is about the death of Katniss father. Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies also have a song about it called ‘Run Daddy Run’, but the Drops do it in a style of an old folk song for District 12. It’s an amazingly emotional track that shows that the Drops just get District 12. If they make it onto future albums, I would not argue.
If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games and/or retrofuturistic folky music, I’d highly suggest The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. It’s an amazing companion album to the universe of The Hunger Games filled with solid tracks from artists all across the board. I hope that they will be keeping T-Bone Burnett for future films because he’s put together something great.
Come back on Friday, because I’ll finally be reviewing the movie I’ve been waiting ages for…