Album Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The colossal The Hunger Games movie franchise continues with the cinema release of its latest instalment, Mockingjay: Part 1; and with it, as expected, comes an expertly curated soundtrack. Who better to oversee the soundtrack’s curation than 18 year old Lorde? It’s a win-win for both parties, Lorde is a massive fan of the books and looks up to leading character Katniss Everdeen, whilst Universal made a wise decision in choosing somebody young, talented and familiar with the series. “The soundtrack had to be something that reflected what was going on in these characters’ minds”, said the teen, “This book and film has everyone at breaking point so I was trying to reflect the different sides of that, whether it was ‘I’m coming for blood’ or ‘this has got to end'”. We are dealing with a stellar array of artists, all carefully selected by Lorde, including; Kanye West, Charlie XCX, CHVRCHES, Major Lazer, Grace Jones and many more.
Stromae produces the collaboration between Lorde, Pusha T, Q-Tip and HAIM for the soundtrack’s beat heavy opener Meltdown, lyrically the track calls for an uprising with lyrics like “Try to restrain us, even though you trained us. We’re better than you are, now we’re gonna make you feed us”. CHVRCHES delivers the breezy Dead Air, a track about endurance and determination, which can be reflected through the many difficult situations being thrown Katniss’ way; Tove Lo’s Scream My Name perfectly describes a protagonist whose strength and power “runs in their blood”, a world they were thrust into and they have grown so accustomed to dealing with their problems day by day. Charlie XCX teams up with Simon Le Bon for the longing Kingdom, a quirky melodic track that captures the essence of going through life without that important somebody by your side, Katniss isn’t quite herself without Peeta, her fellow tribute from District 12; the same path is followed by Major Lazer and Ariana Grande’s All My Love, the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ contribution to the soundtrack. Lost Souls paints a picture of a protagonist who is unsure of themselves, whether they are “hero or villain” and acknowledging the “hatred in their heart”; Raury sonically captures the feeling of being lost and confused with the minimalistic approach to the dark lyrics. It may have been blatantly obvious to even Lorde herself that she would keep Katniss Everdeen’s biographical number, and arguably the soundtrack’s strongest point, for herself; Yellow Flicker Beat combines Lorde’s dark and and self righteous approach to songwriting and Katniss’ strong and determined will throughout her journey at this stage of the series.
The Leap by Tinashe sees the protagonist question his/her position and gives an expression of distrust towards somebody once deemed trustworthy, Tenashe nails the delivery with her emotive vocals; Bat For Lashes covers Son Lux’s Plan The Escape, a contribution perfect for the soundtrack’s theme, its lyrics fit perfectly as the protagonist won’t “look back at the wasting world behind” them and “hold on to their reasons”. Grace Jones’ reggae fuelled Original Beast certainly deepens the already deep atmosphere of the soundtrack, although there’s not a lot to the vocal, the overall vibe of the track suits; Kanye West gives some more ‘oomph’ to Yellow Flicker Beat by first of all simply naming the track Flicker, whilst the melody and the tempo is the samewe are dealing with an instrumentation that leaves a different impression, the track is no longer Lorde-esque but Kanye didn’t fail the rework of the track; his contribution would have been a dream come true for the teen as he is one of her major musical influences. The predatory Animal by XOV dynamically lifts the vocal atmosphere of the soundtrack, though its sound is still as dark as intended for the production; The Chemical Brothers and Miguel team up to deliver the intense This Is Not A Game, with some uncredited vocals by Lorde, and tell a story of patience, determination and might. Lastly, the soundtrack is wrapped up with Lorde’s cover of Bright Eyes’ Ladder Song, it’s uncanny how the lyrics pre-empted Katniss’ likeness; “If I got to go first, I’ll do it on my terms. I’m tired of traitors always changing sides, they were friends of mine” could be used as an example of Katniss’ will to succeed or die trying and could even describe her feeling of betrayal towards characters Plutarch Heavensbee and Haymitch Abernathy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is simply divine, as the production’s curator Lorde really went out of her way to secure the best-fitted musicians to capture the dark essence of the film itself; she really proved that she was the worthy choice of running the show, and fulfilled an opportunity she may not have thought about doing at the tender age of 18. Each track is relevant to the story being told, songs like Yellow Flicker Beat, This Is Not A Game, Ladder Song and Meltdown strongly represent what Katniss Everdeen’s journey throughout this part of the story is all about; her strong will, even when she shows signs of vulnerability, her perseverance and determination, not to mention the burden of being a symbol of hope for the nation. Kanye West’s Flicker gave the original track a new dynamic, but it didn’t really take the soundtrack to newer heights, but this didn’t stop the rest of the soundtrack being killer. Great artists, intensely impressive production and a switched on curator really made The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) stand out.