Literary Mixtape: Katniss Everdeen


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: The irrepressible heroine of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is set in a futuristic land called Panem, which has sprung from a vaguely post-apocalyptic North America. As cruel punishment for a historical uprising, every year, each of the twelve districts surrounding the ruling city, the Capitol, must sacrifice one boy and one girl, generally chosen at random, to fight to the death in a huge arena until only one surviving tribute is left while the whole country looks on, taking pleasure in it all as a twisted reality TV show. Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl from District 12, volunteers to participate to save her younger sister, and is whisked away to prepare for battle. In the arena of the Games, she must use all her wits and skills to survive. Katniss is a teenage girl, true, but she’s a remarkably strong one, who had been taking care of her family long before she was thrust into the forced warfare of the games. Though in the book she has largely eschewed music because it reminds her of the loss of her father, we think she could have benefitted from a soundtrack to battle by. Here, we’ve imagined the perfect playlist to help her keep up her strength in the arena — for as long as she can hear it, of course. Here’s what we think Katniss Everdeen would climb trees, make alliances, and shoot straight and true to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“Theseus” — Patrick Wolf

Collins has suggested that The Hunger Games is in some ways a modernized version of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur — indeed, in the myths, the wrath of King Minos is such that he demands tribute from Athens in the form of seven boys and seven girls to be hurled into the Labyrinth and destroyed by the Minotaur. It is only Theseus, who comes one year with the other tributes, who can kill the beast. We think a musical reminder of the story might give Katniss, Collins’ girlish Theseus, a little strength.

“Go Hard (Feat. Lil’ Wayne)” — Nicki Minaj

Although Katniss is probably much more even-keeled than your typical Nicki Minaj fangirl, we still think the pugnacious bad-ass in her would love her some Nicki. Plus, we can’t think of a better way to start off an unwilling but necessary battle than with Nicki whispering in our ears, “I think it’s my time… You know why? My tears have dried, and I know that no weapon formed against me will prosper. And I truly believe that my haters are my motivators…”

“Combat Rock” — Sleater-Kinney

We don’t know about you, but something about Katniss just screams “Sleater-Kinney fan” to us. Whether it’s the unabashed left-of-center politics or steely resilience, or just general, you know “girl power,” she’d definitely keep this track on heavy rotation in the arena.

“I Fought the Law” — The Clash

In Panem, the law always wins, no matter how hard you fight. Even if you manage to trick them, even a little, you’ll have to scramble hard to save yourself from retribution. Smile for the cameras, Katniss.

“Combat Baby” — Metric

Though this song is probably about a bellicose lover, we know that Katniss picks up her own combat baby in the Games — and she’s probably even more confused about him than Emily Haines has ever been about anyone, which is saying something.

“Fire, Fire” — M.I.A.

We think that perhaps, while Katniss is deep in the arena, that she might need a little reminding of the fact that she’s the Girl That Was On Fire. And not literally. She gets a reminder like that. Even better, this track is a perfect competition song, sure to get Katniss fired up for the fight to come. The message is simple: look out, I’m coming.

“Telephone” — Lady Gaga & Beyoncé

Well, all other things aside, she’s still a sixteen year old girl, after all. And one viewing of this song’s music video is enough to turn it into a power anthem for any runaway woman with a bone to pick.

“Eye of the Tiger” — Survivor

Sure, it’s cheesy, but this is a mixtape for a battle to the death, right? It can’t hurt to channel a little Rocky.

“Lady Labyrinth” — Ludovico Einaudi

Of everything on this list, this song sounds the most like Katniss to us — dramatic but understated, beautiful but dangerous, every movement carefully considered, a bull’s-eye. Perfect for hunting, tracking, and deliberate climbing, it’s the ultimate song for the subdued warrior gritting her teeth and getting it done.

“Survivor” — Destiny’s Child

Maybe outliving the other teenagers in your neck of the woods wasn’t exactly what Destiny’s Child had in mind when the wrote this song, but it certainly applies. We think it would inspire Katniss to rebel against her captors, keep her head up high, and, well, keep on surviving.