Soundtracking is a regular column that appears on Cineplex.com looking at the music featured in the biggest new releases both in theatre and on home video. Shane McNeil sees how The Hunger Games franchise is evolving its soundtrack game to capitalize on wider musical audiences with each film.
The Hunger Games are back on very soon, and they’ve taken their soundtrack game into a new arena of sorts.
Prior to the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire last November, this column outlined how the tween blockbuster has been quietly revolutionizing the soundtrack game in recent years. Franchises like The Hunger Games and Twilight have been marketing their soundtracks to the more musical savvy end of their audience and even pulling in slightly older music fans with some interesting indie acts alongside unreleased tracks and brand new cover versions.
Now, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 set to hit cinemas next week, the franchise has handed the reins over to Lorde.
The 18-year-old Kiwi singer/songwriter is no stranger to pop radio audiences, of course, with 2013’s inescapable “Royals” just now backing off the airwaves, and is no stranger to the franchise, either, having contributed a Tears for Fears cover to the Catching Fire soundtrack.
She made enough of an impression on the decision-makers with that cover for them to appoint her as “curator” for the first Mockingjay soundtrack.
The previous brain-child, Alexandra Patsavas, was also responsible for the Twilight soundtracks and cut a broad swath with her Hunger Games approach, employing everything from Taylor Swift to Arcade Fire to get ears buzzing.
So, what does Lorde bring to the table?
She’s definitely focused her efforts on a poppier, electronic audience for the first segment of the franchise’s finale and the names that pop out from the tracklist (beyond her own, of course), include Kanye West, The Chemical Brothers and CHVRCHES.
While Charli XCX (who provided a breakout hit earlier this year with “Boom Clap” from The Fault in Our Stars) and Bat for Lashes earn the soundtrack cred points, the early singles from the soundtrack belong to the heavy hitters.
The Chemical Brothers’ “This is Where It Is” marked the second single off the album in October, with CHVRCHES’ “Dead Air” becoming the third single already off the disc by early November:
What’s most impressive on the disc, though, is the amount of musical heavy lifting Lorde did on her own.
She is part of five of the 14 tracks on the album, including: her lead single “Yellow Flicker Beat,” a reworking of that track courtesy of Kanye West, an all-star collaboration on the first track alongside Stromae, Pusha-T, Q-Tip and Haim, a Bright Eyes cover, and uncredited vocal work on the Chemical Brothers track.
The disc is yet to be formally released, that happens Nov. 17, but Lorde is already making her way up the charts, hitting the top 10 on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart.
Can it become the third soundtrack to hit Number One on the albums chart this year, joining Frozen and Guardians of the Galaxy?