In the ever-exploding world of pop culture, book series often start out by nobodies, expand to trilogies (or more), then shift to the big screen within a few years. In the mid 2000s, Stephenie Meyer gave us the glory story that is “Twilight,” which ignited this country’s obsession with vampires, blood, chaste teenagers and the “how easily can I judge this person” question of “Edward or Jacob?!” These fans, these wild Twi-hards — they’re constantly shit upon for their all-consuming fanboy habits. But what about the millions upon millions of kids who can’t get enough of the 2010’s biggest craze, “The Hunger Games”? (Hunger Gamers? The Hungries? Hungry Hippos? We’re still working on this one).
These books have been devoured by young adults and the adults who look after them (My 53-year-old father, 25-year-old boyfriend, 18-year-old brother and I each read the first book on our one-week beach vacation this summer).The first installment of “The Hunger Games” series comes to theaters this March, and not without an impressive soundtrack.
Universal reports that indie rockers the Decemberists and Arcade Fire will grace the soundtrack with their presence, alongside worldwide best-girl-ever Taylor Swift. “Safe and Sound,” the track released by Swift featuring Grammy-nominated folk band the Civil Wars (via Tweet), had risen to No. 1 on the iTunes Songs chart within 24 hours of Swift’s announcement. The song captures not only the emotional ride of the books, but also their addictive quality in that readers only know one thing for sure: No one is ever as safe, as they say.
The “Twilight” films were also accompanied by soundtracks that featured a blend of pop and indie artists. “New Moon” sampled from the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Bon Iver, Lykke Li and Thom York of Radiohead. “Twilight” had more of a mix, with artists ranging from Paramore to Linkin Park to Iron & Wine.
Why is it okay to like “The Hunger Games” but be mercilessly teased for digging “Twilight”? Both series sport strong female protagonists who ponder one boy over the other. They both have supernatural themes and lots of flavorful characters. The difference is this: “The Hunger Games” puts a strange but possible post-apocolyptic world into the hands of anyone who reads it. The concept of sacrificing children to fight to their death is so unearthly, it almost seems real. Although at heart it’s a sci-fi fantasy novel, “The Hunger Games” drives us all to put ourselves in the position of heroine Katniss Everdeen. If you’ve ever had a sibling, or cared for your needy family, or given something, anything, all you’ve got, you can see yourself there. You can be in that arena. What child will live? Who will die? And that, my friends, trumps vampires versus werewolves any day.
Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.