A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an album of songs from and inspired by the highly anticipated movie based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel The Hunger Games. Only three of the songs appear in the film, over the credits. (There is a separate soundtrack album of James Newton Howard's score for the film.) Considering the movie's brooding plot that sends children of a futuristic society to a televised fight to the death, the songs, as expected, are melancholy and morose with content about survival and death, but also filled with hope, courage, and sacrifice -- much like the heroine of the story, Katniss Everdeen. A few songs do mention weapons and killing, but because of the very intense subject matter of the movie and the songs, the album, like the book, is best for teens and up.
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What's the story?
Acclaimed producer T Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) lends his musical genius to THE HUNGER GAMES: SONGS FROM DISTRICT 12 AND BEYOND. With 16 original tracks (not all of which are in the movie) from artists including Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Miranda Lambert, The Decemberists, Arcade Fire, and The Civil Wars, the despair, rage, and hope of District 12 and Katniss Everdeen certainly comes through.
Is it any good?
There's a lot of expectation for the album that accompanies one of the most talked about movie releases for any age group, and The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond almost lives up to the hype. Brooding alt-rock and country dominate the soundtrack, with melancholy melodies and eerily haunting vocals that could make goose bumps rise on your neck quicker than the feather of Katniss' bow. Of course Swift's "Safe & Sound" (with impeccable duo The Civil Wars) and "Eyes Open" are commercial favorites, but the gut-wrenching fight for love and life that the book and movie are about are best depicted in songs like Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter," "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder" by Secret Sisters, the heartfelt "Just a Game" by British teen Birdy, and "Rules" by Jayme Deen. Perhaps Burnett wanted to perpetuate the idea of a raw, futuristic Appalachia that is home to Katniss, so hopefully fans can appreciate the country sounds that overwhelm the album. Kid Cudi's "The Ruler and the Killer" stands out as a hip-hop/rock track that embodies the intensity you'd expect from an action-filled fight-to-the-death flick.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the themes of hope and survival that are depicted in the book The Hunger Games, and if and how those themes are brought out in the music. What other themes do you think can be found in the music?
Is the music on this album what you expected after reading the book? Why or why not? What do you like about the music? What do you dislike?
Do you think it makes a difference when popular musicians like Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 are included on a soundtrack? Does it make you more or less interested in the music?
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