Science Fiction Film & Television

Mountain airs, mockingjays and modernity

Songs and their significance in The Hunger Games

Science Fiction Film & Television (2015), 8, (1), 75–89.


Songs play a significant role in the narrative and thematics of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (2008), its 2012 film adaptation of the same name and ancillary media texts released to support the film. One particular diegetic composition, known as ‘The Meadow Song’, plays an important role in the novel's and film's audioscapes, serving to evoke the complex cultural associations of the Appalachia region that has transitioned into District 12 in The Hunger Games' dystopian future. Ancillary media texts, particularly the film's lead promotional single, Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars' performance of ‘Safe and Sound’ (and its accompanying music video), reinforce this connection. Additionally, the melody of ‘The Meadow Song’ plays a key role in representing the interaction of humans with the bio-engineered woodland arena in which extended combat tournament occurs (particularly through the futuristic conceit of biologically engineered birds that imitate human song). In this manner, songs represent an unusually important thematic element of the early franchise's various media texts, demonstrating how song elements can be closely integrated with plot and thematics, rather than simply serving as peripheral sonic adornments.

Access Token

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. The Hunger Games Google Scholar

Farber, Jim. ‘"Hunger Games soundtrack," music review’. New York Daily News (19 Nov 2013). Google Scholar

Feld, Steven. Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1982. Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression Google Scholar

Gifford, Paul M. The Hammered Dulcimer: A History. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2001. The Hammered Dulcimer: A History Google Scholar

Granger, John. ‘Mockingjay Discussion 15: The Hanging Tree’. Hogwarts Professor: Thoughts for Serious Readers (25 Aug 2010). Google Scholar

Hayward, Philip. ‘Sci-Fidelity: Music, Sound and Genre History’. Off The Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema. Ed. Philip Hayward. Eastleigh: John Libbey/Perfect Beat, 2004. 1-29. Off The Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema 1 29 Google Scholar

Higgs, Robert J., Manning, Ambrose N. and Miller, Jim Wayne, eds. Appalachia Inside Out Volume 1: Conflict and Change. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1998. Appalachia Inside Out Volume 1: Conflict and Change Google Scholar

Hughes, Mark. ‘Why "The Hunger Games" Proves Young Adult Novels & Female Audiences Could Rule the Box Office’. Forbes (22 Mar 2012). Google Scholar

Kidson, Frank and Neal, Mary. English Folk-Song and Dance. New York: Cambridge UP, 2011. English Folk-Song and Dance Google Scholar

Langrall, Peggy. ‘Appalachian Folk Music: From Foothills to Footlights’. Music Educators Journal 72.7 (1986): 37-9. ‘Appalachian Folk Music: From Foothills to Footlights’ Music Educators Journal 72 37 9 Google Scholar

Seeger, Charles. ‘The Appalachian Dulcimer’. The Journal of American Folklore 279 (1958): 40-51. ‘The Appalachian Dulcimer’ The Journal of American Folklore 279 40 51 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Fitzgerald, Jon

Hayward, Philip