The “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack dropped Tuesday (November 19) — a few days before the release of the film later this week. If you’re anything like us over at MTV News, you have likely listened to the 15 songs on repeat, playing a mental version of the upcoming flick in your head, sobbing and snuffling and preparing for the ensuing depression that dark film will inspire. But have you, dear readers, actually attempted to match tunes to scenes? Lucky for you, we’re two steps ahead.
Yes, the long-awaited sequel to the first “Hunger Games” film is almost finally here — a flick that finds heroine Katniss and would-be paramour Peeta free from the Arena, but thrown straight into the fire. The nation of Panem is sizzling with rebellion and they are the cause, having defied the government by breaking the rules of the Hunger Games when they refused to kill each other in the Arena. Bad things, inevitably, ensue.
In preparation for that parade of bad-/sadness, MTV News has broken down the film’s soundtrack, matching each song to a pivotal scene in the book version of the series.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
President Snow Vs. Katniss
Despite all the violence in “Catching Fire,” there’s probably no moment as chilling as when President Snow shows up in District 12 smelling of roses and blood and tells Katniss that she has touched off a rebellion — one that she must quell or risk the lives of her family and friends.
“Even though it’s so quiet, it’s just one of those iconic scenes from the book and so to film that, we spent an entire day just doing that,” Director Francis Lawrence told MTV News.
What better accompaniment to such a hushed, fraught scene than The National’s moody, tense “Lean,” the refrain of which is, “Dying is easy”? The chorus serves almost as a warning from Snow himself.
Gale & Katniss Kiss
There aren’t a ton of “happy” moments in “Catching Fire,” but Gale fans will most certainly dig the kiss between Katniss and her best friend, which she recalls at the beginning of the book. Consequently, we’d match this snippet in time to Aguilera’s stirring, anthemic “We Remain.”
But, then, maybe we’re just still hoping those two crazy dystopian kids can make it work in the end.
It’s barely a whisper of a scene, but when Peeta shows Katniss his paintings depicting the horrors of the Arena while on the Victory Tour, we got chills.
“All I do is go around trying to forget the arena and you’ve brought it back to life,” Katniss tells him. “How do you remember these things so exactly?”
His answer? “I see them every night.”
Those words bring to mind a particularly vivid lyric in the Of Monsters and Men jam: “A thousand silhouettes/ Dancing on my chest/ No matter where I sleep/ You are haunting me.”
A whisper of a song for a whisper of a scene.
Rebellion In District 11—
If you cried when Rue died in the first film/book, prepare for the waterworks that will inevitably result from the scene in “Catching Fire” in which Katniss visits District 11, Rue’s home. Here, after Peeta and Katniss deliver a heartfelt speech about the District’s fallen tributes, sadness gives way to the beginnings of rebellion.
We would pair Coldplay’s offering to this scene, as we can imagine that Katniss feels like Atlas himself— carrying the weight of the world — after chaos breaks out.
A proposal is usually a joyous affair, but in “Catching Fire,” it’s an attempt to quell rebellion. Peeta proposes to Katniss in the midst of an interview with Hunger Games host Caesar Flickerman in an effort to convince the Districts that they broke the rules not to spark rebellion, but because they are in love. President Snow, however, lets Katniss know — subtly — that the ruse did not work.
Goulding’s jam about identity, “Mirror,” is a perfect accompaniment to this moment, where both Peeta and Katniss grapple with their feelings for each other and the artifice of their would-be love affair.
Poor Gale. Not only does his one true love get engaged, he also gets whipped within an inch of his life at the hands of District 12’s new Peacekeeper.
In the film, we hear that there’s a pretty touching scene with both Katniss and Peeta caring for Gale in the aftermath, so let’s score it with a song written for the man himself, “Gale Song,” by The Lumineers. Needless to say, it’s not an upper.
The Third Quarter Quell Announcement
And now the moment that made us all collectively throw our books against the wall: When Peeta and Katniss hear that in this year’s Quarter Quell, tributes will be reaped from existing victors. Translation: They’re heading back into the arena.
The power and “f— it all” swagger of Santigold’s song matches pretty well the tragedy of the moment, as well as the drunken stupor Katniss goes into afterwards.
Katniss Meets Finnick Odair
We picked the sexiest song to accompany the sexiest moment in the book — the moment that Katniss meets half-naked fellow victor Finnick Odair, sucking on sugar cubes before the parade of the tributes.
There’s also more than a touch of tragedy to the tune, fitting given Finnick’s love for the half-mad Annie Cresta.
Katniss’s Wedding Dress Reveal
During the final interviews with the victors before entering the Arena — again — the assemblage works the sympathy angle hard, leaving the audience of entertainment-hungry Capitol residents in tears and shambles.
Katniss’s wedding dress — which changes from a symbol of lost love to a symbol of rebellion as she twirls — is the icing on the tear-logged cake.
Naturally, we paired the Weeknd’s sultry, dark “Devil May Cry” to this bitter, dark scene. Just imagine Katniss twirling to that, the audience crying — makeup melting — as her dress turns from white and frothy to mockingjay black.
Entering the Arena
Shaken by the sudden death of her stylist Cinna, Katniss is thrown into the horrors of another arena, this one composed of water, water everywhere — a.k.a. no place for a “girl on fire.”
Imagine Dragons’ refrain of “we were never welcome here” seems pretty fitting in this instance, as Katniss heads into the arena with a very clear message in mind: she is not meant to survive again.
Of the many horrors of the Arena, perhaps the worst are the master mimics, the jabberjays, who are trained to scream with the voice of the person each victor loves the most. For Katniss, that person is her sister Prim.
She needed an “elastic heart” for sure to survive that trial.
Katniss Kisses Peeta
We’ll save the one true love song on the track list for the one true kiss between Peeta and Katniss in the Arena. Revel in that for a few.
Katniss Breaks The Forcefield
Legendary musician/writer Patti Smith’s contribution, naturally, would be matched to the most rebellious moment in the film: when Katniss uses her shooting skills to destroy the arena. “Rebellion is an arrow/ Wired to the sun” — you can say that again, Patti.
Katniss Is Told The Capitol Has Peeta
It’s an explosive moment, for sure, when Katniss is rescued and told that there was a plan all along to break her out of the Arena — and that Peeta was captured by The Capitol.
Despite its languidness, we think that Antony & The Johnsons’ heart-heavy, dirge-like song is pretty applicable to the despair Katniss feels in that moment.
And… credits! Let’s wrap this all up with Lorde’s Tears For Fears cover, which talks about the struggle for power and the misery it breeds. Foreshadowing, anyone?