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‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Has a Surprising Musical Inspiration

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Grey Baird holding a microphone in 'The Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.'

The music of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is part of the allure of the film. Mainly because singer/tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) captivates the audience and brings them into the games with her charm and her vocal stylings.

The soundtrack for the film includes songs written for the book by Suzanne Collins and composed for the film by Grammy-winning record producer Dave Cobb, who has worked with artists like Lady Gaga, The Highwomen, and Brandi Carlile. The songs, performed live on set by Zegler, have the feel of the Appalachian mountains and help to bring the energy of District 12 to life.

My personal favorite from the soundtrack is a song that Lucy Gray sings about Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) that, when paired with camera angles and a cunning lens focus, makes it one of the more dynamic songs in the film.

One of the aspects of the movie that was surprising to me was the influences that inspired Zegler, which included Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and the Carter Family. As someone who went to school in the Appalachian mountains, we often sang songs native to the region. One of those songs I performed at school made an appearance in the film’s soundtrack. I’m talking about the Carter Family’s rendition of “Bury Me Beneath the Willow.”

Rachel Zegler was giving June Carter Cash vibes

The Carter Family includes June Carter, more famously known as June Carter Cash, the wife of Johnny Cash. One of many artists to perform the song, the Carter Family version is tender and deeply felt. A song of loss, heartache, and betrayal, it embodies Lucy Gray’s story in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. So its inclusion in the soundtrack to the movie, as sung by Molly Tuttle, is both fitting and not surprising for Lucy Gray’s character.

Lucy Gray and District 12 have always had a connection to Appalachia, but while Katniss is not connected to the music of it that much, Lucy Gray is. And maybe that’s what I was somewhat missing from the original films (as much as I do love Katniss). Hearing a song that means a lot to me on a soundtrack like this really just connected with me while I had other songs, like “Pure as the Driven Snow” to love.

(featured image: Lionsgate)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.