With the premiere of the second film installment of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young adult series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack has received just as much excitement as the film itself. Considering the soundtrack for the first film is certified gold, there is obviously a high expectation for this one to be just as musically epic. With more characters and an even more intense plotline to try to embody, there’s no doubt that the soundtrack should pretty much paint the storyline through instrumentation and lyrics.
Promotion for the soundtrack (and the film in general) has been subtle yet hard-hitting at the same time. The first single, Coldplay‘s “Atlas”(which was released two months before the album), really set the stage for what the rest of the album was going to accomplish. “Atlas” perfectly defines the struggle of what Katniss must feel as being a champion who is “carrying the world” on her shoulders as “The Mockingjay” while The Capitol is doing everything in their power to destroy her with its haunting melody. The following single, Sia‘s “Elastic Heart (feat. The Weekend & Diplo)”, creates a dark-sounding, dance-like track that depicts the love triangle that is Katniss, Peeta and Gale, in which she feels that she’s being stretched in many different directions to try to give love to both of them.
With a handful of relatively bland, unexciting songs (Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, Santigold and even Christina Aguilera‘s single “We Remain”) paired with some tracks that just do not fit with what the franchise stands for (mainly Ellie Goulding‘s better-fit-for-a-mermaid-movie “Mirror”), it seemed like there wasn’t anything more to it apart from the big names. However, the weird combos are what make a soundtrack a soundtrack and sometimes it’s used to its advantage. The Weeknd‘s “Devil May Cry” fits in almost as much as Kid Cudi did on the first soundtrack (not so much). It’s gospel-like, but with a dark, folksy/R&B twist that embodies what President Snow says about letting the tributes think they’re invincible but still having The Capitol as the ultimate power. In the end, its odd instrumentation makes it fit perfectly with the overall storyline of the film.
Two of the best songs on the album come from fan favorites Imagine Dragons and Lorde, in which they are placed directly in the middle of the soundtrack as part of a means to keep the listeners wanting more. Imagine Dragons’ “Who We Are” is the perfect example of (*spoiler alert*) the comradeship of Districts 3, 4, and 7 that the tributes of District 12 bring about during the midst of the stress caused by The Quarter Quell, with heartbreaking lyrics like “doesn’t matter if it’s not our day” and “so won’t you save us/what we are.” Lorde’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” can most definitely be the theme song of the Career Tributes (Districts 1, 2 and 4). Its beginning lyrics, “welcome to your life/ there’s no turning back/ even while we sleep/ we will find you,” is haunting and creepy and really makes you paranoid even though we’re obviously not currently living in the dystopian world that Katniss lives in (in which every day is a constant battle to stay alive).
The deluxe edition of the soundtrack contains three bonus tracks that really don’t even need to be there in the first place. But I’ve got to admit that Mikky Ekko‘s “Place For Us” should’ve been placed in the original version because it’s really beautiful. Even though it’s slightly upbeat, it’s the lyrics of being “the chosen ones” (AKA Katniss and Peeta) who will evidently save all of humanity that really turn the song into something other than a cheesy love song.
Because The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack is essentially that – a soundtrack – it’s difficult not to imagine which scenes in the film the songs would fit into. It’s an eclectic mix of well-known chart-toppers with the hottest names in alternative as well as a handful of bands and artists that are relatively new to the scene (which is good exposure for them but definitely uses the well-known artists to draw listeners in). The overall flow of the album starts off strong and stays there until the middle, where it lacks energy for a bit, but then picks back up towards the end. It’s a solid soundtrack that lives up to the hype of what the film brings, but with a few different choices in artists, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would’ve been Capitol-worthy to its very core.