This is the spooky soundtrack to Hunger Games, the long-awaited, highly hyped film based on the wildly popular tween book trilogy. Music is assembled by T Bone Burnett, the same person who put together soundtracks for O Brother Where Art Thou, Cold Mountain, Big Lebowski and I Walk the Line. Rest assured, Burnett has perfect pitch when it comes to selecting tunes matching either the backwoodsy, Appalachian District 12 or the evil, futuristic, artifice-ridden Capitol.
Noteworthy is Arcade Fire's chilling "Abraham's Daughter" nailing the Capitol with a stark, creepy anthem replete with ghostly vocals that croon, "The angel cried for the slaughter." On the country side, you can't ignore the Pistol Annies' "Run Daddy Run" ("Can you hear, the devil drawing near, like a bullet from a gun") capturing the D12/O Brother vibe, banjo plink and all. The other cuts are descriptive, desperate tunes that complement, explain and amplify the plot. If a picture's worth a thousand words, these songs represent thousands.
The tracks take dead aim at conventional, mainstream, teen demographics (two Taylor Swift cuts and Maroon 5), yet, like the film, aim beyond the shopping malls and seek a more discerning audience. Besides Arcade Fire and the Pistol Annies, you also get the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Civil Wars, Neko Case and the Decemberists. While the lullabies may lull you, a song like Taylor Swift's "Safe And Sound" haunts you as the soundtrack scores a bull's-eye, not with a bow and arrow, but with your heart.