How Lorde Came to Rule 'The Hunger Games'

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

The Hunger Games franchise has a new heroine on the horizon: Lorde. The 17-year-old singer-songwriter has been commissioned by film company 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.”

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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 was aware of what has been done before.”

Republic Records’ first Hunger Games featured a soundtrack of songs and selected and produced by T Bone Burnett with Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” as the lead single. Songs From District 12 and Beyond, released March 16, 2012, has sold 491,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan; “Safe & Sound” won a Grammy and received Oscar, CMA and CMT nominations.

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Release of the Mockingjay — Part 1 soundtrack is expected to follow the schedule of Catching Fire, coming out three days before the film hits 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.”