Catching Fire soundtrack shows a spark

courtesy of Republic Records

courtesy of Republic Records

courtesy of Republic Records
courtesy of Republic Records

The anticipation for Catching Fire (in theatres November 222013), the second chapter in the Hunger Games film trilogy, continues to build as singles from its soundtrack are released on iTunes. The album’s star-studded line-up includes Coldplay, Of Monsters and Men, Sia, Christina Aguilera, Imagine Dragons, Sanitgold, Ellie Goulding, Lorde, the Lumineers, and even Patti Smith – all of whom contribute to this panjandrum of an album.

In contrast to its predecessor, the Hunger Games album, Catching Fire’s soundtrack has a darker undertone. The romantic country songs by Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and Maroon 5 in the last soundtrack seemed unbefitting with the film’s dark and dystopian feel. The Hunger Games album was far from memorable.

In fact, I believe this album will be a sensation. Not only will the soundtrack stand alone as a great collaborative piece, but the tone of the songs on the album are consistent with one another, creating a more fitting score for the film. Aiming for an alternative, bluesy rock sound, it seems like the Hunger Games saga found its musical niche.

While the Hunger Games films have become mainstream with its famous contributors, the Catching Fire soundtrack boasts more alternative musicians and bands like the National, Antony and the Johnsons, The Weeknd, Mikky Ekko, and Phantogram. These artists will draw in a very different crowd. As the film will be released in the same season of most Academy Award nominated films, the change in music could signal a desire to target more
artsy” intellectuals.

Coldplay’s “Atlas,” for example, references the Greek myth.

“I’ll carry your world” lead singer Chris Martin sings in the chorus.  Desperately romantic and somber, the song has an amazing build up. Of course this song seems to directly reference Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson) persistently trying to appear to be a hero to a girl Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who seems to need no rescuing.

Similarly “Gale” by the Lumineers speaks to the other side of the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle. Understated and longing, the Lumineers capture Gale’s (Liam Hemsworth) reluctant decision to move on despite his chronic affliction for Katniss.

Each artist does not change their traditional sound. Christina Aguilera’s “We Remain” is a dramatic poppy ballad that calls on the endurance of the tributes. While this song seems to be in stark contrast to the rest of the album, it is primarily a result of Christina Aguilera’s style and sound in comparison to the rest of the artists on the album.

Sia has a collaboration with Weeknd and Diplo in a song called “Elastic Heart.” Its title seems to suggest a catchy tune monopolized by sweet-16 DJs and New York nightclubs and it may very well be. But despite its commercial use, this song will work well for the film. It speaks directly to Katniss’ strength and self-preservation when it comes to love.

The Catching Fire album will certainly attract a variety of fans into its cool and eclectic feel.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack is now available for pre-order on iTunes. The album will be released on November 19 2013.