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'The Hunger Games' Soundtrack: Songs Deliver Soulful Despair

Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence

CRISTINA JALERU   03/19/12 08:07 AM ET  AP

Various artists, "The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond" (Universal Republic Records)

It was never going to be easy, living up to the expectations of the devoted fans of "The Hunger Games." But Grammy-winning producer T Bone Burnett has managed to create a deftly meditative soundtrack to the movie adaption of the best-selling book, bringing together big names and indie darlings of all stripes on this guitar- and banjo-heavy release.

The surprise comes from the soulful direction of this 17-track album. One might have expected a more energetic and thrilling sound. A little bit country, a little bit indie and a little bit folksy, the mix makes for a rather charming recipe, pointing to themes of despair (Punch Brothers' "Dark Days"), injustice (The Decemberists' "One Engine"), loneliness, but also hope (The Secret Sisters' "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder") and humanity.

Double winners on this album are Grammy winners Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars, both with two tracks, one of which is a collaboration with each other, "Safe and Sound." Swift's more impressive contribution is "Eyes Open." Its lyrics offer a double entendre commentary on both the story's heroine, who has to be vigilant in order to stay alive, and the celebrity culture: "But now we've stepped into a cruel world / Where everybody stands and keeps score/Everybody's waiting for you to break down / Everybody's watching to see the fallout / Even when you're sleeping, sleeping / Keep your eye-eyes open."

Maroon 5 chips in with a Western-sounding ballad featuring Rozzi Crane, "Come Away to the Water," while Miranda Lambert brings out the big country guns with her group the Pistol Annies in "Run Daddy Run."

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Birdy hypnotizes with the eerie melody of "Just a Game" and her guttural vocals.

Check out photos from the "Hunger Games" premiere:
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  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actors Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth attend the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: (L-R) Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Director Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence attend the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • "The Hunger Games" Cast Signing

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends a special signing event to promote their new movie 'The Hunger Games' at Barnes & Noble Union Square on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

  • "The Hunger Games" Cast Signing

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Josh Hutcherson and actress Jennifer Lawrence attend a special signing event to promote their new movie 'The Hunger Games' at Barnes & Noble Union Square on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Liam Hemsworth attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Stanley Tucci (L) attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Josh Hutcherson attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Liam Hemsworth attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence attend the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson attend the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Jennifer Lawrence attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Zoe Kravitz attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Bridget Moynahan attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: (L-R) Liam Hemsworth, Isabelle Fuhrman, Josh Hutcherson, Director Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Director Gary Ross attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Tony Danza attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Abigail Breslin attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Josh Hutcherson attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Marisol Thomas and Rob Thomas attend the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Alexi Ashe and Seth Meyers attend the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Cuba Gooding Jr attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Jennifer Lawrence arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society And Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - After Party

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Stanley Tucci (C) and guests attend the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Elizabeth Banks arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Jennifer Lawrence arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    Liam Hemsworth in Dolce & Gabbana

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Amy Paffrath arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Actress Brooke Bundy arrives for the pre

    Actress Brooke Bundy arrives for the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Stanley Tucci arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actors Josh Hutcherson (L) and Jennifer Lawrence attend 'The Hunger Games' Los Angeles Premiere on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

  • Actor Cody Simpson arrives for the premi

    Actor Cody Simpson arrives for the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: (L-R) Actors Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth arrive at 'The Hunger Games' Los Angeles premiere held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, United States. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Actress Garcelle Beauvais arrives for t

    Actress Garcelle Beauvais arrives for the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Odette Annable arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: TV personality Kelly Osborne arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Zachary Gordon arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Toby Jones arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Isabelle Fuhrman arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Willow Shields arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Author Suzanne Collins arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Benjamin Bratt arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Garcelle Beauvais arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Kevin McHale arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Woody Harrelson arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Producer Ninia Jacobson arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of Liongate's "The Hunger Games" - Arrivals

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Leslie Mann arrives at 'The Hunger Games' Los Angeles premiere held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

  • Actress Kalia Prescott arrives at the pr

    Actress Kalia Prescott arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TV Personality Kendall Jenner arrives a

    TV Personality Kendall Jenner arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)



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