If you’re looking for an album reminiscent of sunshine and kittens, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond–the soundtrack album for the upcoming film The Hunger Games–may not be for you.

The original songs from a variety of folk, country, indie-rock and hip-hop acts, inspired by the film adaption of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games novel, are anything but upbeat and happy. They run the gamut of emotions from melancholy (Taylor Swift‘s “Safe and Sound”) to desperation (Miranda Lambert ft. Pistol Annie‘s “Run Daddy Run“) and everything in-between. 

If you’ve read the books or know anything about the upcoming movie, that’s to be expected.

The collection was produced by T-Bone Burnett, who among his many other projects previously produced the GRAMMY-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Most of us are already familiar with Taylor’s hauntingly beautiful song “Safe and Sound” with The Civil Wars. Her voice melts and entwines perfectly with the duo (Joy Williams and John Paul White), and if you ever had any doubt about Taylor’s vocal abilities and talent, this song should put that to rest.

Taylor Swift also makes a second appearance on the soundtrack returning to her pop-country roots with the her latest anthem “Eyes Open.”

Following Taylor, [mp3com-artist]Kid Cudi[/mp3com-artist]’s domineering rap-rock tune ‘The Ruler and The Killer” hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s intense and kind of scary.

[mp3com-artist]Neko Case[/mp3com-artist]’s “Nothing To Remember” and [mp3com-artist]Punch Brothers[/mp3com-artist] melancholy love song “Dark Days” are both bright spots. Well, as about as bright as it gets on this album.

The Civil Wars return to perform “Kingdom Come” on their own, and it’s a definite highlight, featuring the duo’s otherworldly harmonies carrying lyrics such as “Don’t you fret my dear / It’ll all be over soon / I’ll be waiting here for you.” The sad but hopeful tune is reported to be the Best Country Duo GRAMMY winner’s homage to a survival song.

Maroon 5 ft. [mp3com-artist]Rozzi Crane[/mp3com-artist]’s “Come Away To The Water” came as a pleasant surprise. I’m not sure what I was expecting from Blake Shelton‘s The Voice co-star, Adam Levine, but this song is just smooth. Cave scene, anyone?

“Run Daddy Run,” from Miranda Lambert ft.[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Pistol Annies[/lastfm], already leaked last week. It’s a gritty song that oozes desperation in which the girls sing, Daddy, can you hear the devil drawing near? / Like a bullet from a gun / Run, Daddy, run.

Overall, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond is dark, chilling, angry and at times even somewhat hopeful. All pretty fitting for a film set in a post-apocalyptic world where children and teens are forced to fight to the death on live TV.

The Hunger Games opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, March 23.

Read more about The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond track listing:

1. Arcade Fire ”Abraham’s Daughter” 

2. The Secret Sisters “Tomorrow Will” 

3. Neko Case “Nothing to Remember” 

4. Taylor Swift ft. Civil Wars “Safe & Sound” 

5. Kid Cudi “The Ruler and the Killer” 

6. Punch Brothers “Dark Days” 

7. The Decemberists “One Engine” 

8. The Carolina Chocolate Drops “Daughter’s Lament” 

9. The Civil Wars “Kingdom Come” 

10. Glen Hansard “Take the Heartland” 

11. Maroon 5 ft. Rozzi Crane “Come Away To The Water” 

12. Miranda Lambert ft. Pistol Annies “Run Daddy Run” 

13. Jayme Dee “Rules” 

14. Taylor Swift “Eyes Open” 

15. The Low Anthem “Lover is Childlike” 

16. Birdy “Just a Game”

Pick up your copy of The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond Tuesday, March 20 at iTunes and Amazon.

– Amber Morgan

hunger The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond [Soundtrack Review]

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