The most impressive part of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" soundtrack (Universal Republic) is how cohesive it sounds, despite its wide array of contributors.
Few would expect Coldplay, Christina Aguilera and The Weeknd to fit together, much less with punk poetess Patti Smith and New Zealand breakout star Lorde, but they do. Alexandra Patsavas, who took over as music supervisor on this installment from T-Bone Burnett, finds a space where all these artists connect, where hushed voices can grow strong in massive-sounding anthems.
Lorde's version of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" brilliantly turns the Tears for Fears original on its head, stripping away everything earnest and chipper about it and playing up the haunting pieces that remain. Sia offers another surprise with "Elastic Heart," building another "Titanium" anthem with help from Diplo's clattering rhythms and a cameo from The Weeknd, who also turns in a pretty, pained performance on "Devil May Cry," his delicate, soulful vocals warming up the song's icy synths.
Smith conjures a potent mix of blues, folk and compelling spoken word on "Capital Letter," while Aguilera continues her string of recent surprising performances with the powerful but restrained ballad "We Remain." The battle between the big, dramatic percussion and Dan Reynolds' vocals is compelling on Imagine Dragons' "Who We Are," which should add to the band's winning streak.
That could be said of pretty much everyone involved with the "Catching Fire" soundtrack, as everyone from buzzed-about bands The National and The Lumineers to club queens Santigold and Ellie Goulding deliver winners.
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE An ambitious, cool soundtrack worthy of a blockbuster