Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games Soundtrack: A Review

Officially titled "The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond," The Hunger Games soundtrack was released as an accompaniment to the film. None of the songs actually appear in the movie (except three over the end credits), and I'm not sure how I feel about this: I think several of them could have really boosted the film in certain places. However, this soundtrack works beautifully by itself as an ode to Katniss's epic plight of survival, and the album as a whole definitely vibes strongly with the film: listening to it before I saw the film got me so psyched to see the moody, dark book on screen, and listening to it afterward somehow made me feel like I was still in the theater, so deeply involved with the intimate portrayal of Katniss's quandary. T-Bone Burnett did, as usual, an incredible job producing here. With a mix of folksy artists sticking to their roots and other musicians expertly bending to the genre, this album is a wildly engaging and effective counterpart to The Hunger Games trilogy - and anyone who can get Adam Levine to sound so siren-like gets an A+ in my book.
 My thoughts, track-by-track:

1. Arcade Fire, "Abraham's Daughter:" The first song to play over the end credits, this haunting tune makes it nearly impossible to get up from your seat. Regine Chassagne sounds like some sort of mythical creature (okay, another siren reference). One critic called it "Enya meets Game of Thrones," and I'm definitely cool with that idea.

2. The Secret Sisters, "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder:" A sweet and hopeful ballad that makes me think of Rue. I think it would have served well in her final scene, but apparently Gary Ross doesn't agree. Whatevs.

3. Neko Case, "Nothing To Remember:" Katniss could have written this one herself.
Case pleads, "give me something to remember." I'm not sure if it's this song I will remember from this collection, but it is a solid enough track and definitely adds to the album.

4. Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars, "Safe & Sound:" The first single released from the album, I've been loving this song for awhile. It just feels so... well, Hunger Games. It is Swift's sweetest ballad, made even sweeter with the delicate harmonies of The Civil Wars. It makes me feel... well, safe and sound.

5. Kid Cudi, "The Ruler And The Killer:" I'm a huge fan of Kid Cudi, but I'm not sure about this track. It is... interesting. It is also growing on me.

6. Punch Brothers, "Dark Days:" Chris Thile and his band are perfect for this soundtrack, and their contribution does not disappoint. "Dark Days" is an obvious reference to Katniss and her mother and sister, a gentle song about hiding from fear, and I think it could have done wonders for a scene early in the film.

7. The Decemberists, "One Engine:" This song is typical Decemberists fare, but the surprise of an electric guitar will shake things up for fans. "One Engine" picks up the pace of the album, but I'm not in love with it.

8. The Carolina Chocolate Drops, "Daughter's Lament:" This song, with its references to mockingjays, is clearly a tribute to District 12 and Katniss's hunting ways. I must admit that it kind of creeps me out. Sorry.

9. The Civil Wars, "Kingdom Come:" This song has become one of my favorites by The Civil Wars, who also fit into this compilation very well. The duo shines on "Safe & Sound," but here, they really glimmer (pun intended).

10. Glen Hansard, "Take The Heartland:" A rocking tune to match the Decemberists. Hansard gets really angry by the end, and I feel that it's a great reflection of many of Katniss's feelings in the film.

11. Maroon 5 featuring Rozzi Crane, "Come Away To The Water:" Adam Levine and friends stop moving like Jagger to slow things down on this track, which I would have really loved to see in the film. Levine's voice soars, but quietly, and I find this song to be truly gorgeous and haunting.

12. Miranda Lambert featuring Pistol Annies, "Run Daddy Run:"
This tune by Miranda, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley has a real down-home country feel, and I'm really loving it. Their harmonies are great, and talks of the devil scare me a little and delight me at the same time.

13. Jayme Dee, "Rules:" At first listen, this is one of the weaker spots on the album, but I like it more each time I hear it. It screams "Peeta" to me, and it is probably the most blatant reference to the trilogy's inevitable love triangle.

14. Taylor Swift, "Eyes Open:" No surprises here from Swift. A straightforward pop-country tune that, lyrically, really serves as a perfect anthem to The Hunger Games.

15. The Low Anthem, "Lover Is Childlike:" A quiet, moody track that doesn't feel very Hunger Games-y, but its poetic quality is appealing. I'm working on this one.

16. Birdy, "Just A Game:" We hear every single part of Birdy's much-more-mature-than-15-years-old voice in this album closer, and wow, are we lucky to do so. A perfect closer, and my favorite track from album.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! 


Anonymous said...

i think you have a future as a music critic

Ashley Osterer said...

anonymous? reveal yourself