The shimmering choral battle cries and looming bass lines that create the star-studded 14-track collaboration of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” soundtrack will find itself in the new alt-psych-pop genre’s hall of fame. Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” can be seen coursing through the veins of the new album, giving die-hard Lorde fans somewhat of a sequel to her soaring debut album.
The earlier unveiled track list admitted the loss of past soundtrack contributors: Maroon 5, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and Taylor Swift, whose larger-than-life “1989” dropped a couple weeks ago. However, the loss of these superstars does not seem to have an effect when upcoming stars like Ariana Grande, Charli XCX and CHVRCHES rise to the occasion.
The leading track on the album, “Meltdown,” introduces us to the fine company of Pusha-T, Lorde, Stromae, Haim and Q-Tip. With the “Phantom of the Opera”-esque organ backing Lorde — seething every word through clenched teeth all before an ethereal chorus resounds — a better introduction to the album could not have been chosen. Staccato chants courtesy of a short Haim appearance at the end of the track round out the multi-faceted high-energy introduction to District 12 as seen through Lorde’s eyes.
Charli XCX can also be seen ditching her bratty top-40 hooks for her own installment, “Kingdom (feat. Simon Le Bon),” a tip-toeing ballad that boasts a tickling piano paired with a string section and glitchy automatic-sounding chorus. Charli’s voice swings from Auto-Tune to effortless falsetto as she takes you on her dreamy journey.
Destined for Top 40 greatness beside her recent onslaught of chart toppers like “Break Free,” “Problem” and “Love Me Harder,” Ariana Grande has her own contribution to the soundtrack, “All My Love” with Major Lazer. This upbeat dance track has a drop reminiscent of jabberjay calls with a confusing hook that doesn’t seem to quite fit Grande’s sexy vocals. Hunger Games imagery drips from this cut, but the mixture falls a bit short. Grande’s delicate delivery of the hook “up on the mountaintop” is a bit confusing and strangely naturalistic for such a high-energy dance track and will have listeners wondering where said mountain came from in Ariana’s search for all your love. But like all of Grande’s hits, the song will see its spot as one of the biggest dance pop highlights on the album and will probably be shoved down everyone’s throats when the time the radio gets a hold of it.
Rounding up the rest of the album are tracks like Tove Lo’s “Scream My Name,” which unfortunately doesn’t seem to quite make it off the ground and to the arena, and XOV’s “Animal,” which is a surprising gem hidden at spot 12 on the album. Its reverberated bass line, robotic vocals and Weeknd-inspired chorus will be a favorite among the avid listeners of the soundtrack.
Previously released single “Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde has already proven itself, while her stripped-down reworking of Kanye West’s “Flicker” seems to be stolen from a Halo soundtrack.
The album isn’t perfect, but is an extremely impressive feat — especially considering the hefty weight from The Hunger Games series — from the hands of an 18-year-old. How many more Hunger Games movies are there going to be? Because that’s how many more soundtracks Lorde should curate for the series.