The Inside Story of How Lorde Came to Rule ‘The Hunger Games’

Billboard Magazine - August 13, 2014

A nontraditional deal with Lionsgate finds the 17-year-old curating a major soundtrack.

by Phil Gallo

 

The Hunger Games franchise has a new heroine on the horizon: Lorde. The 17-year-old singer-songwriter has been commissioned by Lionsgate and music publisher Songs to deliver the first single from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.  She’ll also select the artists who will contribute original recordings to an “inspired by” soundtrack. She has reportedly finished a demo and already reached out to more than a dozen artists.

“It’s a nontraditional deal,” says Songs head of creative licensing Carianne Marshall. “Lionsgate had to be flexible — there was quite a bit of back and forth. Lorde was not going to do this without complete creative freedom.”

Lorde — born Ella Yelich-O’Connor — took a break from her European tour in late May to visit Mockingjay director Francis Lawrence on the set in Berlin. The meeting, says Marshall, “made everyone comfortable with her intention to represent the tone of the film and create a diverse soundtrack. She did her homework and knew what had come before.”

Republic Records’ two previous Hunger Games soundtracks sold a combined 687,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan, but the list of potential contributors under Lorde’s reign is being kept under wraps. The new soundtrack is scheduled to be released three days before Mockingjay soars into theaters on Nov. 21. It’s highly unlikely, however, that Lorde’s lead single will be ready in time to follow the pattern established by Coldplay’s “Atlas,” which came out 11 weeks ahead of Catching Fire and has sold 246,000 downloads. “Lorde is calling the shots,” says an executive associated with the film and its music, “and everyone is there to support her in whatever way she needs.”

This article first appeared in the August 16th issue of Billboard Magazine.