By Courtney E. Smith
The film that promises to be the next cultural zeitgeist, Divergent, hits theaters today (March 21) and features a soundtrack that gives both Twilight and The Hunger Games a run for their money.
The Divergent soundtrack is packed chock-full of brand new songs from A$AP Rocky, Pia Mia and Ellie Goulding, who is the “musical voice” of the protagonist, Tris Prior, played by Shailene Woodley. And because it’s for the YA crowd, the album also packs a distinct EDM flavor with tracks featuring Zedd, Pretty Lights and Skrillex.
Radio.com spoke with Randall Poster, the film’s music supervisor, whose work you’ve heard in movies including The Hangover, Spring Breakers, Skyfall and pretty much all of Wes Anderson’s oeuvre, about the Divergent team’s musical vision of a dystopian future, creating a Yeezus-esque atmosphere with an Ellie Goulding conscience and getting Snow Patrol and M83 to compose unique, original soundtrack moments.
Radio.com: What soundscape were you trying to create with the Divergent soundtrack?
Randall Poster: The challenge with a movie like this is that it’s set in the future, so you’re faced immediately with the questions, where does music come from? What does it sound like? Also a challenge was that we were looking at a future as depicted in the film that wasn’t a George Jetson perfected future. It was more like a future that had been degrading from the present; things were falling apart. We were faced with that kind of visual and psychological landscape so we tried to figure out a way to find music that felt forward, but also had some relationship to the music we would be hearing currently as a touchstone.
Where did the idea of using contemporary electronic music in the film come from?
One of the things that [director] Neil Burger gave us as an inspiration was that he wanted, especially in the world of Dauntless [ed: the one of the five factions in the world of Divergent that the main character Beatrice “Tris” Prior, played by Shailene Woodley, belongs to], the music should feel tribal, dangerous, sexy. That was a musical component we searched for. In terms of the contemporary sound, we were listening to a lot of things and it dawned on us that the music of Kanye West’s Yeezus felt right. Obviously the lyrical component would have been a distraction, but we landed there in thinking, this is a musical world that seems to be appropriate for our Divergent reality.
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