Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that The Hunger Games' marketing machine is following hot on Twilight's heels. Like that most reprehensible of franchises, someone realized that bank could be made by asking legitimate indie artists to write songs dedicated to the movie. (Corin Tucker's latest release is comprised of songs intended for the New Moon soundtrack but didn't make the cut. A little piece of me dies whenever I reflect upon this fact.)

This collection, produced by T-Bone Burnett, does less to capture the feel of the books themselves. As much as I love most of the music on here, it ultimately feels like a savvy high-schooler's Hunger Games-inspired playlist. Some of the songs are really only relevant due to their title; others are spot-on. The Internets tell me that Burnett set out to create a collection of songs that would be what Appalachian music will sound like 300 years from now. I'm not so sure about that, but I guess that's where the "and Beyond" part of the title comes in.

While some of the other bloggers are falling all over the Kid Cudi track, "The Ruler and the Killer," I found it somewhat baffling and repetitive. The electronic crunch felt out of place among the folk instruments. Also, Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open" is just a Taylor Swift song that stumbled onto the album. I only listened to about ten seconds of it.

The real standout here is the Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Daughter's Lament," a folksong about Katniss herself. It seems to take place after the series concludes -- making it the one song on the album that explicitly invokes the story and styles itself as a folksong from 300 years in the future. It's this added layer of reality to the franchise that gives the song its power.

Honorable mentions: "Abraham's Daughter" -- The Arcade Fire; "Safe & Sound" -- Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars; "One Engine" -- The Decemberists; "Run Daddy Run" -- Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Anns;

Listen for free on Spotify.

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