Yellow Flicker Beat

Album: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
Charted: 71 34

Songfacts®:

  • This is the first song to be released from the Lorde-curated soundtrack for Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. The New Zealand teenage songstress penned the tune with her Pure Heroine collaborator Joel Little. It was produced by Paul Epworth (co-creator of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep and "Skyfall" songs). According to Lorde, it was her "attempt at getting inside" the head of the movie series' heroine Katniss Everdeen.
  • Lorde told KROQ's Kevin and Bean the story of the menacing track. "Basically I wrote the song specifically for the movie, it wasn't something that I had to draft up previously," she said. "I reread the books, and I just wanted to tap into everything that Katniss is feeling in that film and what's the crazy stuff that goes on."

    "One of the things that happened in the book which to me felt like this crazy turning point was her best friend Peter tries to kill her, he's been brainwashed and tries to strangle her," Lorde continued. "It just felt like something so irreparable and something that the characters couldn't turn back from. I felt like Katniss was like 'okay, I'm taking names. I'm coming for blood. You don't do these types of things to my friends and family and get away with it.' I just wanted to make something kind of dark and haunting."
  • The song was recorded at New Jersey's Lakehouse Recording Studios after they were recommended to Lorde by Bruce Springsteen.
  • This isn't the first time Lorde has written a song for the Hunger Games movie series. In 2013 she supplied a cover of Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" for the Catching Fire soundtrack.
  • Kanye West remixed the song for the Hunger Games compilation. Lorde had to cold-call the rapper-producer and ask him to do it, which she admitted to Billboard magazine was no simple thing for her. "I'm the worst person ever at talking to people I don't know on the phone - I can't even order pizza," she said. "I would put off calling him. I'd say, it's 12:57, I'll do it at 1."
  • The song's music video was directed by Emily Kai Bock, who also filmed Grimes' "Oblivion" and Arcade Fire's "Afterlife" clips. It was shot partly in New Jersey, and partly at the Park Avenue Armory during New York Fashion Week. "When I was dreaming it up," said Lorde, "I wasn't thinking too hard about story or a specific narrative, more a mood; a harsh, crackling heat."

    "Yellow Flicker Beat is about Katniss realizing that things have crossed a line, about being pushed to the edge and right over it," she continued. "My character in this video, whether she's weaving her way through a decadent ballroom, hiding out in a grimy, neon-lit motel room (her hair ever-so-slightly dishevelled), or waiting in the night for her bus to come dressed in her whitest clothes, is a shapeshifter, full of intensity and impulse, kind of like Katniss. whether she's in a small space or a cavernous one, she's fiery."

    I don't really know what I'm trying to explain to you here," Lorde concluded, "but don't read the video like a story, just let it take you somewhere."
  • Asked by Fader how she got West to remix the song, Lorde replied, "We had wanted to do something separate of any project. We just wanted to sit in the studio and try something out. I didn't know it was going to be the 'Yellow Flicker Beat' rework."

    "It was cool that he was into the song, and he re-imagined it in this different way as it was produced," she continued. "He sang it to me - I guess he made the sounds with his mouth - and I was like, 'This is not going to work. This doesn't sound like something that's going to be cool.' But of course it was cool, and it worked as the other side of the coin as my version."

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