Accompanying what was arguably the most hotly anticipated young adult movie of the year, and following in the footsteps of two previous stellar albums, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) certainly had some huge shoes to fill. And boy, did it fill them.
It should be noted that this album is incredibly Lorde-heavy. The 18 year old New Zealander, real name Ella Yelich O’Connor, curated the album and features on Stromae’s opening track Meltdown alongside Pusha T, Q-Tip and Haim, as well as contributing two solo efforts, her original Yellow Flicker Beat, the lead single, and also her version of Bright Eyes’ The Ladder Song. A remix of Yellow Flicker Beat, entitled Flicker, mixed by Lorde’s “idol” Kanye West also appears. Unlike the lead single of the first film’s soundtrack, which was Taylor Swift’s Safe & Sound (ft The Civil Wars), Yellow Flicker Beat doesn’t explicitly relate itself to the plot of the film, however, a sense of foreboding is experienced in listening to the song, which is mirrored perfectly in the audience’s emotions while watching the film. The Ladder Song focusses mainly on the theme of death which is of course heavily featured throughout the movie, with onscreen massacres in Panem’s Districts 12 and 8.
The more upbeat tracks include the opening track Meltdown and Major Lazer & Ariana Grande’s contribution All My Love. These tracks echo the urgency and conflict of the film series, but neglect to reflect the main themes of oppression and injustice, which are all the more evident in Mockingjay than in either of the previous instalments of the trilogy. Scottish trio CHVRCHES add their unique sound to the album with their song Dead Air. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s vocals and the synthetic backing track are instantly recognisable to any fan of mainstream radio; CHVRCHES’ previous singles The Mother We Share and Gun spring to mind, with Dead Air being a near mirror image of both these tracks, but nevertheless a solid addition to the soundtrack.
Low points on the soundtrack are Raury’s Lost Souls and Tove Lo’s Scream My Name. Neither of these songs leave the listener with that sense of anticipation which was the backbone of Mockingjay Pt.1 and are completely forgettable in the mixture of the stronger tracks on this album.
James Newton Howard scored the film, and featuring on the score is the ballad The Hanging Tree which featured heavily in the book, and was the backing track to hugely important rebellion sequences in the movie, and the decision to omit it from the soundtrack was taken very poorly.
Any fan of The Hunger Games trilogy will be immensely pleased with the soundtrack to the beginning of the end of their beloved movie series. While perhaps not as strong as the first film’s soundtrack, Mockingjay Pt.1 (Official Motion Picture Soundtrack) certainly blows the second film’s soundtrack out of the water, and Ella Yelich O’Connor deserves a huge pat on the back for her hard work.
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