With it’s strong female lead, de-sanitised child violence and subversive take on reality TV, The Hunger Games wasn’t your average Hollywood blockbuster. With a track list including The Punch Brothers, King Cudi, The Low Anthem and the odd but effective pairing of Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars, it wasn’t your average soundtrack either. Now Jennifer Lawrence is back for a second outing as Katniss Everdeen, and with it comes another diverse collection of artists.
Thus you get the commercial bankers mixed with some more off the wall choices – none of which would ever find themselves together on any record apart from a soundtrack. Of the former, Coldplay’s return to action with ‘Atlas’ is a suitably dark affair, although while quite why Christina Aguilera is there is anybody’s guess. Both Ellie Goulding and Of Monsters and Men do what they do (just to lesser effect), yet when you head off the beaten track there’s some nice stuff to be found. Kook de jour Lorde provides the obligatory quirky cover – in this case Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ – while The Lumineers keep it more real than most on ‘Gale Song’. At the other end of the scale sits the triple combo of Sia, The Weeknd and Diplo on the album’s big collaboration and one that works well, leaving the subsequent track from The National sounding rather too downbeat in comparison. The Weeknd reappears on his own on ‘Devil May Cry’, toning down his usual sleaziness and actually all the better for it.
Most strange of all, amongst these young bucks sits Patti Smith. Her vocal on ‘Capitol Letter’ does tend to wander at times but she has a commanding presence and it feels fitting to have such a gender warrior involved. She certainly leaves Santigold in her shadow. And as if to prove that this isn’t your standard fare, the album drifts to a beautiful close with Antony & The Johnsons. Here’s hoping the movie is just as intriguing.