Futuristic sci-fi action movie “Divergent” released its soundtrack this week, and it’s loaded with some of today’s most popular artists. Many of the tracks carry a bubbly space-age sound, blending electronic elements with uplifting lyrics from Ellie Goulding and others. Given the many artists who contributed to it, the “Divergent” soundtrack fails to live up to its full potential, but it still packs a punch with a few banging tracks.
The music and lyrics encapsulate the tone of the movie, which tells a story of a girl overcoming societal pressures, finding her true identity and embarking on a sort of hero’s journey. On “Fight For You,” Pia Mia melodiously sings over a thumping beat, “I know you know it, you know it / But you can’t choose who’s inside / But if you just show it, let me know it / Then I’ll fight for you tonight.” The never-say-never song features Chance the Rapper, who continues to demonstrate his versatility, rapping offbeat and often changing voice inflections over his echo-y verse.
Some of the best-known artists of the electronic scene, including Skrillex, Zedd and Pretty Lights all contribute songs. Skrillex, usually known for his screaming dubstep womps, produced the track “Stranger,” which is also featured on his new album. Sam Dew sings on the first part of the song, which then drops into a captivating moombahton/trap beat with high-pitched bleeps that sounds like something Diplo would produce.
Kendrick Lamar goes in on the Tame Impala-sampling “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” boldly spitting rhymes on living without rules and standing up for what you believe in. His first words are intentionally shouted: “And we’ll be screamin’ out no rules, no rules / Feel the energy we go through, I told you.” In fact, a good portion of his verses are yelled rather than spoken, and it ends up sounding pretty neat over Tame Impala’s psychedelic-rock backbone.
The spotlight of the soundtrack shines brightly on Goulding, who has not one, not two but three solo tracks on the album. Only one of the songs – “Beating Heart” – was made solely for the soundtrack, but all three are extremely appropriate for the movie as a whole, sharing similar sound components. “Dead In The Water” lacks any sort of beat, led simply by arpeggiating synths and choruses of string instruments. On its own, the track seems slow, but the more you listen to it, the more it becomes something to get lost in. It will be interesting to see how the track gets used in the movie.
One of the most auspicious tracks is ODESZA’s remix of Pretty Lights’ “Lost and Found.” ODESZA re-imagines the organic electronic sound of Pretty Lights to create something entirely new; pulsing, heady synths make the track mesmerizing yet energetic.
Not every tune on the 16-song “Divergent” soundtrack is worth a listen. A few are likely to be used as unnoticeable songs in the background of the movie. But the diversity of artists who contributed means that there’s a little something for everyone.
“Divergent” hits theaters on March 21.
3 out of 5 stars