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Album Review: Divergent – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

3 min read

Divergent is set to be the next big thing in the world of young adult novels turned into films. If you haven’t heard of it yet then don’t worry; you soon will once it’s released in April. To give you a general idea think of a Hunger Games-esque dystopia: A world divided into different sectors (factions) and a lot of violence and weird coming of age rituals going on. The soundtrack features a lot of big name artists, many whom have given brand new, never heard before music to the compilation. As someone who has read the Divergent trilogy I guess I had a pretty solid idea of what I expected from the soundtrack – mainly themes of darkness, griminess and a hint of vulnerability.

divergent-soundtrack-coverUnfortunately, that wasn’t what I found. Instead I found that many of the songs were actually quite uplifting and positive. Zedd’s Find You has a gentle opening, and a great beat when it gets into the swing of things. If it had been released as a single then it would be hugely popular, but I feel that its extremely uplifting chorus is out of place on this soundtrack. I felt the same way about the remix of Lost and Found; that it was too positive and didn’t fit with this dark story.

Ellie Goulding has four songs featured on the soundtrack, which is a huge number of songs for a compilation that highlights a number of different artists. The director of Divergent has said that they believe the texture and tone of Goulding’s music was perfect for the film, and that in many ways she has become the inner voice of the heroine Tris. Goulding’s original song for the album, Beating Heart and My Blood have exquisite lyrics that perfectly fit the tone and story of the movie; but the melodies are either disjointed (Beating Heart) or too uplifting (My Blood). I felt that Hanging On MONSTAS Remix was an unnecessary addition to the soundtrack, as Ellie’s lovely vocals had been auto-tuned far too much and it was mainly a generic instrumental piece. The eerie Dead In The Water, however, hit the mark perfectly, adding that hint of vulnerability to the album.

The darkness and griminess I was looking for was hard to come by. Run By Run was by far the highlight on the album; it was dark, had interesting melodic variations and had intense climatic moments. Kendrick Lamar’s rough voice in Backwards provided a sense of rawness, but too much of it becomes grating after a while. I Love You and Waiting Game also left their marks, with melodies and lyrics that just fit the Divergent storyline to a tee.

The rest of the songs were marked as either ‘hate it’ or ‘it’s okay’; they obviously inspired me a great deal. Was it my fault for having high expectations after seeing the track-list? Perhaps so. But I feel like the overall tone of the soundtrack does not match the overall tone of the novel, which leaves me somewhat fearful of how the film will be.