Way to go, "Twilight" movies. You've made it so that it's no longer okay for films aimed at young adults to churn out soundtracks stocked with cookie-cutter pop bands.
Fortunately, it seems that T. Bone Burnett, the guy behind the soundtrack to the upcoming "The Hunger Games" film, has learned that lesson well. His collection here is eclectic, interesting and full of artists that some of the movie's younger fans will likely not know. It's also excellent and pretty damn dark, which is in keeping with a flick about kids who kill each other for sport.
Country poplet Taylor Swift, who has two songs on the list, has stated that Burnett's goal was to put together a collection that would reflect "what Americana and bluegrass music would turn into in the future." Apparently, the future isn't that creative, because a lot of what's here sounds pretty much like what Americana and bluegrass music is now. This isn't a bad thing, at all -- Swift's team-up with the Civil Wars, "Safe & Sound," is a prime example of the haunting material herein; and another pop group, Maroon 5, gets into the spirit with a surprisingly affecting "Come Away to the Water."
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A couple of big indie names also check in, with the Arcade Fire's martial-sounding "Abraham's Daughter" leading off the track list and evoking the dystopian nature of the movie's setting with its foreboding churn. The Decemberists chime in with "One Engine," an acoustic guitar-driven rave-up that propels the record into its second half. The addition of Neko Case, Glen Hansard and the Low Anthem drives home the point that the folks behind this thing know they also have an interested older audience, and if it helps get some younger fans of "The Hunger Games" into some great music, so much the better.
Interestingly enough, the soundtrack hits its highest high and lowest low with its two biggest departures from form. Swift's second contribution, "Eyes Open," is exactly the kind of schmaltz you'd expect to find on a pre-"Twilight" teen movie soundtrack, almost Ashlee Simpson-esque in its sheen. But then we turn around and get Kid Cudi's "The Ruler and the Killer," a goth-hip-hop hybrid that wouldn't have sounded out of place on one of the darker soundtracks of the '90s, like "Judgment Night" or "The Crow."
Overall, Burnett has done a bang-up job here, and while it'll be interesting to see how these songs fit into the actual movie, they make for a compelling listen and a soundtrack we can recommend picking up whether you plan on seeing "The Hunger Games" or not. "Twilight" may have started things, but "The Hunger Games" has set the new bar. Your move, Edward.
1. 'Abraham's Daughter' by Arcade Fire
2. 'Tomorrow Will Be Kinder' by Secret Sisters
3. 'Nothing to Remember' by Neko Case
4. 'Safe & Sound' (feat. Civil Wars) by Taylor Swift
5. 'The Ruler & The Killer' by Kid Cudi
6. 'Dark Days' by Punch Brothers
7. 'One Engine' by The Decemberists
8. 'The Daughter's Lament' by Carolina Chocolate Drops
9. 'Kingdom Come' by Civil Wars
10. 'Take The Heartland' by Glen Hansard
11. 'Come Away' (feat. Rozzi Crane) by Maroon 5
12. 'Run Daddy Run' (feat. Pistol Annies) by Miranda Lambert
13. 'Rules' by Jayme Dee
14. 'Eyes Open' by Taylor Swift
15. 'Lover Is Childlike' by The Low Anthem
16. 'Just a Game' by Birdy
17. Video 'Safe & Sound' (Bonus Video) by Taylor Swift