Sunday, March 25, 2012


I was a bit surprised to hear that T-Bone Burnett was producing the "soundtrack" to the film The Hunger Games. I know that the film is based on a series of books that are aimed at teenagers, and based in some sort of futuristic world. Didn't seem like his beat. My understanding was that The Hunger Games was meant to appeal to the Twilight crowd.  Again, T-Bone's greatest film music has seemed aimed at an older crowd: O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, Walk The Line, Crazy Heart. Generally folk, bluegrass, country, a bit of classic rock. I wasn't so surprised that T-Bone would do it as I was that he'd be asked.

But then I found out that none of the songs are actually in the film (I think one or two play during the closing credits).  What would be the point of getting a well-known (and probably well-paid) producer to put together a group of songs for a movie, but they won't be used in the film?

Well, it turns out that it worked quite well! Having seen the movie, I now know that the "District 12" referred to in the subtitle to the soundtrack is the coal mining territory where the main character, Katniss Everdeen, comes from. The music that T-Bone specializes in completely works among that backdrop.  And while none of the songs are heard during the actual film, all of the songs are actually based on the original novel.

I saw the movie this weekend and thought it was great. Pretty dark for a book for young people, but I respect that it doesn't pander to kids.  The soundtrack doesn't either.  Taylor Swift is on the soundtrack (and her collaboration with The Civil Wars works quite well)... but if they had the budget for her, that means they had the budget for Katy Perry or Drake or LMFAO.  It would have been really easy to fit those acts into some of the scenes in the film.  So I tip my hat to the producers for coming up with an idea that is much more cohesive, and will age well.

Other than the Taylor/Civil Wars track, I really liked Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter," The Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Daughter's Lament," The Pistol Annies' "Run Daddy Run" and the one hip-hop track on the album, Kid Cudi's "The Ruler And The Killer" (which is more of a Nine Inch Nails vibe than an appalachian sound).

The packaging seems to have two slots for CDs even though it only contains one.  Any guesses as to why?

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