Every Song on ‘The Hunger Games’ Soundtracks, Ranked

May the likelihood of ranking these correctly be ever in our favor.

By Kevin Rutherford & Shannon Carlin

Since their debut in 2012, the soundtracks to the Hunger Games films have been among the best collections devoted to installments in the young-adult fiction adaptation genre, often mixing hip, flavor-of-the-now artists with lesser-known stalwarts of their respective genres.

With the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 soundtrack this week and the movie premiere on Friday, the series has added 14 new songs to its canon, with Lorde serving as the soundtrack’s curator and featured performer on several tracks.

But just how does Lorde’s offerings stack up against T Bone Burnett’s Americana-infused Songs of District 12 and Beyond for the first film, or Alexandra Patsavas of the Twilight series’ Catching Fire? We ranked every song that’s found its way onto a Hunger Games release so far.

May the likelihood of ranking these correctly be ever in our favor.

~

46. Abby – “Again”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This song is a bit of an anomaly, found only on the German and Austrian versions of the Catching Fire soundtrack. You probably haven’t heard it. You’re not missing much. –Kevin Rutherford

 

45. Phantogram – “Lights”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Phantogram‘s twinkling bonus track off the Catching Fire soundtrack feels like an unwarranted afterthought to an already overloaded release. – Shannon Carlin

 

44. Kid Cudi – “The Ruler and the Killer”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

The first soundtrack is defined by its love of Appalachian music, but occasionally something else seeps through—like Arcade Fire’s epic “Abraham’s Daughter,” for instance. But then there’s Kid Cudi, who chants and hums over squealing electric guitar like he’s Trent Reznor.  –K.R.

 

43. Grace Jones – “Original Beast”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Grace Jones takes us into the digital jungle for this track, which feels out of place amongst the synth pop that fills the Lorde-curated endeavor. A+ for effort, Grace, but we would have suggested this song be used in a different movie. Perhaps, Reese Witherspoon’s Wild. – S.C

 

42. Jayme Dee – “Rules”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Songs from District 12‘s weakest link features a pretty vocal, but songs from Secret Sisters, Neko Case and Birdy do what “Rules” is going for a whole lot better. –K.R.

 

41. Tinashé – “The Leap”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Tinashé wears her heart on her sleeve for this slinky slow jam that has her waiting on a guy to make the first move. Clearly, though, this song is not about our Katniss, who is a little too busy leading the rebellion to be waiting on any man. –S.C.

 

40. Imagine Dragons – “Who We Are”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The guys of Imagine Dragons take their drum circle on the road, making a stop in Panem to lead a rather dour sing-along aimed at anyone trying to survive this post-apocalyptic nightmare. -S.C.

 

39. Christina Aguilera – “We Remain”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Christina Aguilera tries to out-“Beautiful” herself in the name of Katniss Everdeen, but just can’t manage to hit that same emotional mark. –S.C.

 

38. The Weeknd – “Devil May Cry”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

At first, The Weeknd abandons his usual darker R&B sensibility for acoustic guitar, but things don’t stay that way for long, becoming your typical Weeknd tune about a minute and a half in. Not a bad thing per se, but it lacks the emotion Abel Tesfaye usually achieves in his songs. –K.R.

 

37. Tove Lo – “Scream My Name”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Tove Lo leaves the Twinkies, grabs the gun for this high-octane track that asks whether Katniss Everdeen’s death will be in vain. But while our heroine will be remembered forever, it’s unlikely this song will meet the same fate. -S.C.

 

36. Lorde – “Flicker (Kanye West Rework)”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

“Yellow Flicker Beat” is a highlight of Mockingjay. It’s completely fine on its own, so why even bother giving it a reworking on the same album? To be fair, Kanye West is probably the man you’d want for the job, but the Yeezus-esque mood swing just seems like an outtake.–K.R.

 

35. The Low Anthem – “Lover is Childlike”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

By itself? A lovely little tune, with acoustic guitar flanked by ebb-and-flow reverb and delicate clarinet. But, on a Hunger Games album where the songs are supposedly inspired by District 12, lyrics about Coney Island kind of take you out of it. That is, unless you imagine Manhattan as the Capitol and Coney Island as the far-away District 12. Then we might have something.–K.R.

 

34. Santigold – “Shooting Arrows at the Sky”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Santigold trades the L.E.S. for District 12 on this new wave track honoring Katniss’ archery skills. But even with a bow and arrow in hand, Santigold proves you can take the girl out of New York City, but you can’t take the City out of her music. –S.C.

 

33. XOV – “Animal”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Meet XOV, the male (and Swedish) version of Lorde, with a little of The Weeknd sprinkled in for good measure. “Animal” culls from both, R&B vocals set over gloomy beats and synths. Fine, but Mockingjay already has “Yellow Flicker Beat.” –K.R.

 

32. Major Lazer feat. Ariana Grande – “All My Love”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Combine Ariana Grande‘s four-octave range with Major Lazer‘s frenetic African beats and you have The Hunger Games’ first club banger. It’s too bad Katniss Everdeen will never find the time to truly enjoy it. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, now she could have some fun with this one. –S.C.

 

31. Mikky Ekko – “Place For Us”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

From a self-actualizing bridge to a surging drum beat to an uplifting final vocal crescendo, Mikky Ekko manages to combine nearly every triumphant musical trope into one three-and-a-half-minute song. But, Ekko may have been punished for overreaching, seeing that this track was relegated to bonus status. There’s always Mockingjay – Part 2, Mikky. -S.C.

 

Continued on page 2…

30. Maroon 5 feat. Rozzi Crane – “Come Away to the Water”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Glen Hansard recorded his own song for Songs from District 12, but also submitted one of his older tracks for consideration, and it was snapped up by Adam Levine and co. There’s not much here, but if you ever wanted to hear Maroon 5 not sound like Maroon 5 one bit with Levine putting in a fairly subdued, controlled vocal performance, this is your thing. –K.R.

 

29. Raury – “Lost Souls”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

This little-known singer-songwriter gets a bigger role thanks to Lorde, offering up a driving acoustic number that glides between rapped and sung vocals that end up contemplative: “Could I be the hero? Could I be the villain?” –K.R.

 

28. The Lumineers – “Gale Song”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Lumineers are clearly Team Gale on this gentle strummer that tells the Springsteen-ian tale of a hardworking coal miner with a girl on his mind and a bit of doubt in his heart. –S.C.

 

27. Of Monsters and Men – “Silhouettes”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Of Monsters and Men‘s bag of tricks is fairly shallow, as in, you basically always know what you’re going to get without even listening. The Icelanders’ contribution is less compelling than their usual fare single-wise, though vocalists Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdottir and Tryggvi Þórhallsson mesh formidably as always. –K.R.

 

26. Bat For Lashes – “Plan the Escape”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Bat For Lashes manages to turn Son Lux’s 2013 track into the perfect call to arms for Katniss and her underground army. As Natasha Khan sings in solidarity, “Leave the wasting world behind us/ We will make it out alive,” you dare to hope that the odds may ever be in our heroine’s favor once again. –S.C.

 

25. The National – “Lean”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The National‘s Matt Berninger has a way of making life sound like the most depressing thing ever. But, when you’re forced to once again compete to the death in the Hunger Games after already managing to survive, life actually is. Seriously, Berninger’s deep baritone telling you “Dying is easy” actually seems rather comforting. –S.C.

 

24. The Secret Sisters – “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

The first soundtrack introduced younger fans to a slew of Americana-leaning artists of which they may not have known before—like the Secret Sisters, who offer a strikingly beautiful song promising better days ahead. –K.R.

 

23. Punch Brothers – “Dark Days”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

A gentle tune that features some of the best folk musicianship on Songs from District 12 thanks to Chris Thile’s tender vocal. Lovely in the moment, though often lost in the shuffle of the rest of the soundtrack. As in, “Oh, yeah, Punch Brothers did have a song on the album, didn’t they?” K.R.

 

22. Antony and the Johnsons – “Angel on Fire”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Spare and languid with its orchestral swells and otherworldly vocals, Antony and the Johnsons’ bonus track for Catching Fire is a stab at the avant-garde. Taking a page from Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, Antony Hegarty doesn’t dumb anything down for the tweens who gobbled up the mature tales of the Girl on Fire. –S.C.

 

21. Lorde – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Before her turn as Mockingjay‘s curator, Lorde appeared on Catching Fire and snagged Tears for Fears‘ original, stripping away its instrumentation and adding the atmosphere that took her to the top of the charts, replete with growling synths and enough percussion to get an Imagine Dragons fan through the entire year. Unfortunately, a little too brooding-for-brooding’s-sake. –K.R.

 

20. Taylor Swift – “Eyes Open”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Taylor Swift gives some safe & sound advice on this pep talk of a track—her second off the first Hunger Games soundtrack—which recommends you keep close watch at all times and don’t get bogged down by the naysayers. To put it in Swiftian terms: Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. But, you just gotta shake it off. –S.C.

 

19. Charli XCX feat. Simon Le Bon – “Kingdom”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Turns out it was Miley Cyrus, not Katniss Everdeen that inspired Charli XCX to pen this song. But that doesn’t mean Katniss couldn’t find some solace in this fluttering track, which has Charli sweetly summing up the Mockingjay’s love woes. We totally get it, we’d have trouble choosing between Peeta and Gale, too. –S.C.

 

18. Neko Case – “Nothing to Remember”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

If there’s anyone who can convey the voice of a coal miner’s daughter trying to navigate the ways of a food scarce post-apocalyptic world, it’s Neko Case. With a little help from producer T Bone Burnett, Case lays out all the troubles she’d rather forget in a song that rivals anything off her latest album, 2013’s The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. -S.C.

 

17. Carolina Chocolate Drops – “Daughter’s Lament”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

The Carolina Chocolate Drops‘ Rhiannon Giddens tells the tale of Katniss learning about her father’s demise. It has an old-timey folk standard feel, Giddens’ vocal joined only by slight percussion in the occasional wailing electric guitar. Pretty, though perhaps a tad too literal for those who like their Hunger Games shrouded in metaphor. —K.R.

 

16. Birdy – “Just a Game”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Birdy gets to the heart of the matter on this piano-led throwback that has the young vocalist beautifully summing the whole book series up in just two lines: “And now I know my place / We’re all just pieces in their games.” –S.C.

 

15. The Decemberists – “One Engine”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

It’s no real surprise to see indie rock’s most literary band, The Decemberists, on a soundtrack from a movie based on a book. But, instead of going all literal with the thing, the song chugs along on frontman Colin Meloy’s rather concise look at the bitterness martyrdom can breed. -S.C.

 

14. Miranda Lambert feat. The Pistol Annies – “Run Daddy Run”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

The series’ most decidedly country effort finds the supergroup of Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley embarking on a mid-tempo track that combines slide guitar, banjo and three-part harmonies with lyrics recalling Katniss’ father’s death by mine. The song most in line with Burnett’s work on O Brother, Where Art Thou? –K.R.

 

13. Coldplay – “Atlas”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Moody, atmospheric piano introduces Coldplay‘s brooding lead single from Catching Fire, which remains dreary and dreamy on its verses. Once the chorus hits, all bets are off, Chris Martin‘s voice soaring among triumphant keys. As far as centerpiece singles from each album go, however, it’s the weakest of the three. –K.R.

 

12. Glen Hansard – “Take the Heartland”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Irish folkie Glen Hansard grabs an electric guitar and writes the protest song the Districts needed. Nearly blowing out his vocal chords in the process, Hansard makes his intentions clear: this means war. –S.C.

 

11. Ellie Goulding – “Mirror”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Ellie Goulding presides over haunting melodies, glistening production and robotic vocals that build and build, adding layer upon layer before bursting into a surging chorus referencing the series’ oft-quoted “girl on fire” line. –K.R.

 

Continued on page 3…

10. The Civil Wars – “Kingdom Come”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” backup got a starring role on Songs from District 12—makes sense, since the sounds of District 12 are absolutely in their wheelhouse. Vocalists John Paul White and Joy Williams’ voices push and pull in delectable harmonies, causing you to miss when the Civil Wars were on speaking terms all over again. –K.R.

 

9. Patti Smith – “Capitol Letter”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

From the moment Patti Smith whispers “Katniss” over a delicate acoustic guitar, it’s obvious the song’s going to take a more literal slant on the books’ storyline. But though it’s hard to hear “Capitol Letter” outside of its intended arena, its inclusion on the soundtrack is incredibly fitting, the lost link between Songs from District 12 and Catching Fire. –K.R.

 

8. Sia feat. The Weeknd & Diplo – “Elastic Heart”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Before Sia was hanging out with little orphan Annie, she was assessing the pliancy of Katniss Everdeen’s most vital organ. With a little help from The Weeknd and Diplo, Sia makes it clear you can’t break this girl’s spirit. And we’re apt to believe her. –S.C.

 

7. Stromae feat. Lorde, Pusha T, Q-Tip & Haim – “Meltdown”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

This posse cut helmed by Stromae features electrifying rhymes from Pusha T and Q-Tip, but its high point may be the outro’s cacophony—a surging choir flanked by HAIM‘s melodies. The guest list on this song is all over the place, but it works to great effect. –K.R.

 

6. CHVRCHES – “Dead Air”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

With synths as their weapons, CHVRCHES ask the masses to rise up in hopes of overcoming the radio silence. Lauren Mayberry sings, “We are all just dead air,” and you’ll be hard pressed not to raise three fingers in the air in solidarity. -S.C.

 

5. The Chemical Brothers feat. Miguel – “This Is Not a Game”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

This is the rally cry for Lorde’s Mockingjay soundtrack. The Chemical Brothers create an abrasive landscape led by Miguel’s yelped verses and bold declaration on the chorus (“Talkin’ bout a revolution”) that suggests tough times to come in the Capitol. –K.R.

 

4. Lorde – “Ladder Song”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The series features a small handful of covers in addition to tracks written specifically for the soundtrack, and nothing can quite best the time Lorde took on Bright Eyes. It’s the perfect closer to Mockingjay – Part 1, Lorde’s impassioned vocal complemented by lone, haunting organ. As it turns out, the best part of Lorde curating the soundtrack may have been having Lorde herself featured prominently, first song to last. –K.R.

 

3. Arcade Fire – “Abraham’s Daughter”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

Perhaps it’s because this song plays in the end credits of the first movie, but Arcade Fire‘s militaristic anthem seems to fully embody the fear and uncertainty that looms throughout the series. Peeta and Katniss may be alive, but things are only going to get worse before they get better. Like, way worse. Luckily, this warning comes via the dulcet tones of Régine Chassagne to make it all a tad bit easier to process. –S.C.

 

2. Lorde – “Yellow Flicker Beat”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Lorde‘s hymnal for the end of the world soundtracks Katniss Everdeen’s return to a demolished District 12 in the trailer for Mockingjay – Part 1. Maybe that’s why this song sounds like a beautiful distraction, one that has us searching for the light before we get completely swallowed by the darkness. –S.C.

 

1. Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars – “Safe & Sound”

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond

T Bone Burnett was the perfect puppet master to oversee the Appalachian sounds from District 12, but he needed the artist that would help bridge the gap between traditional folk and the rabid fans of the young adult novel series. Enter Taylor Swift, who slots in comfortably with this track’s forlorn feel, assisted by the Civil Wars’ melodies. The centerpiece of the first film’s soundtrack, it echoes the storyline without being too heavy-handed about it: “The war outside our door keeps raging on/ Hold on to this lullaby/ Even when music’s gone.” –K.R.

 

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