Soundtrack singles appeal to mainstream
Studios could not be any happier with the box office success of The Hunger Games in its opening weekend, but the film is also greatly aiding the music industry through the release of its official soundtrack.
The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond came out March 20 and features a powerhouse of artists rallying behind the film, such as Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Kid Cudi. And the stacked lineup worked in the albumâs favor, as it sold 175,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
What will be interesting to keep an eye on is not the quality of the songs within the collection, but just how well the soundtrack of the upcoming blockbuster The Avengers does in comparison, simply because each soundtrack is home to a very specific genre.
The songs on The Hunger Games soundtrack have a very folksy, somber vibe to match themes of vulnerability, fighting for oneâs life and protecting family in a dystopian society.
As such, many of the artists take a step back from their usually anthemic constructions in favor of songs that are almost haunting, where the trembling of the vocals drives the tracks more than anything else.
The songs are meant to capture the psyche of the troubled heroine, Katniss Everdeen. And it is quite easy to imagine Everdeen singing these tracks throughout the course of the film.
This soundtrack, however, is boring to anyone not heavily engrossed in the book series and movie. To fully appreciate the songs, one must understand the emotional turmoil of the protagonist. Without that understanding, the songs blend together as one compilation of formulaic folk songs that fail to provide mainstream appeal.
When it comes to The Avengers, the soundtrack is all about rock ânâ roll, the music chock full of fist-pumping choruses and good old-fashioned guitar riffs. And for a movie about the worldâs greatest superheroes uniting to take down the bad guys, there could not be a more apropos track listing to back up all of that action.
The track listing, which was revealed March 26, will feature new songs from bands such as Papa Roach, Rise Against, Buckcherry, Black Veil Brides and Soundgarden, whose song, âLive to Rise,â is the bandâs first new release in 15 years.
And though only a snippet of Soundgardenâs track has been released, it is safe to say that the songs on this disc will have a much more mainstream appeal. Essentially, these offerings will most likely be able to stand on their own as solid singles, whereas the songs from The Hunger Games soundtrack are really meant to go together as a whole.
All of this hypothesizing is not to say that there is more artistic merit in one release as compared to the other, it is to point out that the way each album performs on the Billboard charts will illustrate their appeal.
Music listeners tend to respond to songs based on their stand-alone value. In other words, a solid single released before an album will generate a good amount of hype, but the album sales generally never reach the number of single sales.
When it comes to compilations, there need to be multiple singles to entice people to buy the whole album. Though The Hunger Games soundtrack might have done well in its first weekâs sales, music lovers would expect sales for The Avengers soundtrack, set for release May 1, to be much higher because the songs on that disc should all be radio-friendly.
The folk elements of songs from The Hunger Games, on the other hand, prevent them from being mainstream enough to generate such an enormous outpouring of support because they belong in the context of the whole album, not as radio singles.
It is unlikely that either release will come close to the merits of cinemaâs most successful soundtrack, Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture. This album remained atop the Billboard charts for 16 consecutive weeks, was certified platinum 11 times and will most likely see a leap in sales after the film gets re-released in 3-D April 4.
Now, more than 12 years after the Titanic soundtrackâs iconic release, the world has two new blockbuster films with star-studded soundtracks behind them. But all signs point to The Avengers coming out on top, at least in terms of the music.
Nick Mindicino is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. His column âIndustry Balladsâ runs Fridays.