Soundtracking is a regular column that appears on looking at the music featured in the biggest new releases both in theatre and on home video. Shane McNeil looks at how Young Adult franchises are upping the soundtrack bar ahead of the second installment of The Hunger Games.

Originally published on – November 18, 2013.

Somewhere along the way someone decided that tween blockbusters make excellent platforms for indie bands.

This weekend’s release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is certain to captivate younger audiences, but it’s tomorrow’s release of the film soundtrack that’s got the attention of many of the music industry’s taste-makers.

While the trend of using a well-crafted indie soundtrack to sell to broaden a film’s appeal can probably be traced back to the 80s, the current boom can best be linked to the Twilight franchise. The five soundtracks that encompass that franchise – all put together by Alexandra Patsavas – morphed over the course of four years from a goth-y, popular mood music compilation to an all-out indie showcase.

Early on, Patsavas saw that using Muse and Iron & Wine was helping the soundtrack get buzz beyond the Twi-Hards and the shift to full-blown indie showcase was on. Thom Yorke, Bon Iver and St. Vincent graced the second film’s soundtrack, Metric and Florence + the Machine on the third and by time the final rolled out, big names like Green Day and Feist were on board.

When it came time to launch The Hunger Games for the big screen the soundtrack game got upped once more with renowned producer T-Bone Burnett (O Brother Where Art Thou? and Crazy Heart soundtracks) being brought on board to create a soundtrack-cum-concept album. What resulted was the first film’s soundtrack “The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond”.

That album followed more in the model of the last two Twilight soundtracks, going for a blend of indie cred and star-power. The singles from the album (a pair of Taylor Swift songs) catered more to the film’s target audience but Burnett surrounded those songs with more critical buzz acts including The Decemberists, Neko Case and the biggest buzz name going: Arcade Fire.

Which brings us to Catching Fire’s soundtrack, where the same formula is at play with a more current and more sweeping blend of clout and name-recognition. One hitch to the new disc, however, is that Burnett is no longer involved. His replacement? You guessed it … Patsavas.

The roll-out for the soundtrack has actually been on since early September with the release of Coldplay’s contribution, “Atlas.” Other singles have seen release worldwide with a Christina Aguilera track following Coldplay in the singles queue.

Naturally, though, the cred side of the equation is also represented in full on the new disc with one of this fall’s most omni-present trailer darlings, Of Monsters and Men, contributing a new track as well as The Lumineers, The National and The Weeknd.

But the shrewdest inclusion has to be 17-year-old New Zealand-born chart sensation Lorde, whose track “Royals” has been everywhere in 2013. While the soundtrack could have gotten a boost with a non-album cut of hers, Patsavas and company played another solid soundtrack card by having Lorde contribute a cover.

Her moody, slowed-down version of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” could hit just the right time to boost sales and downloads as both Lorde and The Hunger Games franchise prepare to dominate the entertainment press for much of what remains of 2013.