The Hunger Games' Perfect/Terrible Tears for Fears Cover

Lorde vs. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
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Charles Howells

Lorde just released part of her cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” for the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack: 

Terrible, right? The original's apocalyptic lyrics—“All for freedom and for pleasure / Nothing ever lasts forever,” etc.—were nicely undercut by new-wave bounce. The track to say: Yeah, everybody wants to rule the world, isn’t that hilarious? But with Lorde’s husky voice and the overproduced thunk of the arrangement, the song becomes as unsubtle as the words always threatened it could. This is one of the cleverest rising young pop talents of 2013 being used to cause Evanescence flashbacks.

Listening to it brought to mind the best criticism I've read about The Hunger Games movie, which came, for whatever reason, in the comments section for an Awl article. There, “Doctor Disaster” talked about the William-Tell-ish scene in which Katniss has to grab some attention from feasting sponsors:

One thing that didn't come up that bothered me, big time: why is everything so damned obvious? Like, I guess they assumed everyone would have read the book anyway, but did you really have to go to such great lengths to telegraph every minor thing? As a newbie to the story it would not have hurt to surprise me, like, once.

It's like, "oh no, I missed!" [people look away] [lovingly pan over pig with apple in mouth] "I will get another arrow!" [nonreaction shots] [apple again] [target: bullseye!] [reactions] [more apple] "I wish people would pay attention to me!" [whole frame of brown crap with great big SHINY RED APPLE in the middle, I wonder where this is going] "I'm getting another arrow!" [rack of arrows] [apple] [people talking] [APPLE] "I am frustrated!" [MOAR APPLE] [arrow nocked] [AAAAAAPPLE] [panning over people HAH PSYCH I WAS PANNING TOWARD THE APPLE AGAIN] etc etc.

There’s no reason get worked up about a soundtrack turning a classic into a simplistic mood manipulator (Scott Meslow on Twitter points out the same thing happened to Tears for Fears before with Gary Jules’s “Mad World” take for Donnie Darko). Put this Lorde track behind anything and it'll becomes spine-tingly and stuff. But let's take a moment to be impressed just how much this particular cover, in its overblown, no-wit way, fits its franchise.

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Spencer Kornhaber is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he edits the Entertainment channel. More

Before coming to The Atlantic, he worked as an editor for AOL's Patch.com and as a staff writer at Village Voice Media's OC Weekly. He has also written for Spin, The AV Club, RollingStone.com, Field & Stream, and The Orange County Register.

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