The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [Soundtrack] by Various Artists

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The first movie in the Hunger Games trilogy had an outstanding soundtrack album produced by T-Bone Burnett that captured the earthy spirit of the movie while featuring a nice mix of new and well-known artists. Following that album would be an intimidating process for many, but the film’s producers called on Alexandra Patsavas, who has a long track record of adding music to films and television.

She asked artists to compose songs inspired by the plot of the movie. The result sounds much like one would expect when writing about a dystopian future—there are a lot of bleak songs here.

All but one of the songs were written specifically for this movie and album. The exception is a dark, plodding version of the 80s hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by young New Zealand artist Lorde. The original was light pop fare with shimmering keyboards, but Lorde’s version puts the dismal lyrics (“Welcome to your life / there’s no turning back”) front and center in what turns out to be one of the darkest songs on the album.

Makes me wonder why such bleak music appeals to teens and young adults. Maybe it has to do with finding light in the midst of the darkness. And there is light in some of these songs, although you have to look for it: Coldplay points to heroism as a way out in “Atlas,” and Christina Aguilera sings about personal commitment in “We Remain.” These are just two examples, which also happen to be two of the better songs on this album. Overall, this collection is a musically interesting look at a dark subject that has caught the imagination of many young people. (Universal Republic)

About the Author

Robert J. Keeley is professor of education at Calvin College and director of distance learning at Calvin Seminary.