Kingdom – The Daily Duranie Review

Mockingjay Promo poster

Today we’re reviewing Kingdom, off of the soundtrack to the latest Hunger Games movie, called Mockingjay Pt. 1.  The soundtrack was released on November 17th.  “Kingdom” by Charli XCX, features Simon Le Bon. Yes, Duran’s Simon. While we are both super excited just to hear any new music from anyone in the Duran camp, we thought it would be good to take the time to really listen to the song and write about our overall thoughts.  Read our review and let us know what you think!

Rhonda’s Thoughts on Kingdom:

First of all, I must apologize for my tardiness in getting Kingdom reviewed.  I had asked Amanda to give her thoughts, but then completely forgot to add my own, and it has sat in our “drafts” box for quite a while now. Sorry!

I was somewhat familiar with Charli XCX prior to hearing that Simon would be featured on Kingdom – I have a teenage girl in the house, and so this artist has been mentioned by her before.  I was curious how the collaboration might sound, and I was very hopeful after hearing Simon’s own feelings about Kingdom in this interview on Yahoo! Music with Lori Majewski. He describes Kingdom as being a Nursery Rhyme musically, but lyrically being very, very dark.  After reading that, I was properly intrigued. Knowing the Hunger Games franchise, I felt that Kingdom would work really well in with the soundtrack, as well. Anyone who has read the books or seen the movies should understand the nuances between light (triumph) and darkness (loss) that occur throughout the series.

Although I am familiar with Charli XCX – it is by name only for the most part. I probably couldn’t pick her out of a lineup, and I doubt that I’d be able to recognize her music from others, so that is my disclaimer for this review.  As I listen to the beginning of Kingdom, the song reminds me of a child’s music box.  As promised, there is definitely a fairy-tale quality. The vocals are very well suited to the song – she has a child-like sweetness and innocence to her voice, which is such a fantastic texture to add to the darkness of the lyrics, which is also very reminiscent of a fairy-tale. (Have you really listened to a fairy tale or even Ring-Around-The-Rosey lately?? The plots and lyrics are freaking SCARY. I don’t think I realized until I became a parent. Talk about twisted..and we wonder why kids can’t sleep. Gee, I don’t know…maybe they’re afraid some witch is going to throw them into an oven, or feed them a poisoned apple…or they’re going to catch the plague and die!) There are some other little effects that go on here and there throughout Kingdom that, in my opinion, do little to benefit. In some ways the sound effects almost add humor to the song, and I don’t know that it’s needed. I just know that I love what was done with the song and the lyrics.  Now, about that Simon…. because I know that’s what you’re all wondering.  Simon’s voice is incredibly well-suited to this song, and it’s been SO long since I’ve heard and felt that timbre from his voice, there’s just this tasty depth that I don’t think he’s really used since the first Duran Duran album, but yet there’s still the light. Even here, his vocals have light, and the texture is unbelievably good.  My only small complaint is that they didn’t use him enough.  I love the way Charli XCX slowed the ending down, just as a music box runs out of steam, and the fairy tale of Kingdom ends.  Well done Simon, well done Charli XCX.

I haven’t caught the movie yet – and I enjoyed the books even though I bit my nails off from stress while reading, so I’m looking forward to hearing how this song might have been used. I bought the soundtrack off of iTunes just so that I could have Kingdom and it’s going to keep me going until Duran’s new album FINALLY COMES OUT…hopefully sometime this decade…. 🙂

-R

 Amanda’s Thoughts on Kingdom:

I will be the very first one to admit that I have no idea who Charli XCX is.  Is this someone I should know?  Will this artist blend well with Simon?  Will I care after not having any new music for so long?  Besides, I figured that Kingdom would just showcase Simon’s vocal skills.  I was definitely excited for that.  As much as I might give Simon a hard time about various things, I totally admit that he has some mad skills when it comes to that voice of his!  Of course, I also knew that Kingdom would be on a soundtrack.  Would it enhance the movie?  Will it match the mood of the movie or the scene that it will be featured in?  For me to answer those questions, I might need some additional time to actually see the movie.  All of that said, what did I think of the song without knowing how it is in the movie or without knowing anything about Charli XCX?

This is a strange song for me to review as it isn’t really Simon’s song.  He is just a guest, a featured artist.  Can I judge Charli XCX?  Do I know enough?  My guess is probably not but I will say what I think, anyway.  It wouldn’t be the first time that I offered an opinion here (ha!) and it won’t be the last (you can say that again!).  All that said, I love the opening notes to the song with the piano sound.  It reminds me of a Tori Amos.  The voice sort of reminds of Tori, too.  Clearly, Charli XCX does not have a common voice–it is more ethereal, more mystical.  This definitely fits with the description that Simon said about it being like a dark fairytale.  Normally, her voice isn’t a type I would choose to listen to, but, in this case, it really fits with the music and works to create a mood (much like Simon does at his best!).  Of course, about a minute in, the song shifts to include more instrumentation with an electronic feel along with the piano.  I love the music there–the militaristic drum sound really stands out to me. Then, Simon comes.  He is so smooth here and really does add something special to the song.  Yes, I’m a Duranie.  Does that mean I’m biased?  Maybe but I don’t think so.  He adds to the drama, to the emotion of the song.

Truly, Kingdom makes me  WANT to see the movie and see how it is used, which never happens. I only have two complaints. First, the song could be longer and Simon’s part definitely could be longer.  I didn’t get enough from his very brief appearance.  Second, I wish the song was available on its own off of iTunes.  I don’t know that I want the entire soundtrack but I would love to have a copy of this song.

What do the rest of you think?

2 thoughts on “Kingdom – The Daily Duranie Review”

  1. This “feature guest” ploy that movie marketers use amounts to a tiny snippet; it’s not a full demonstration of the artist’s talent. It greatly annoys me to see how creative potential is ruined for the short-term gain of making a quick box office buck by cashing in on someone’s (past or present) fame. Simon sings for about 20 seconds in a 4 minute song. TWENTY SECONDS!!! This trend shows a lack of respect towards the audience who are actually interested in the music itself as part of the storytelling/moviemaking experience. Think of the song, “Under Pressure” by Queen, featuring David Bowie (I know, it wasn’t made for a movie soundtrack but allow me to state my point here). Bowie and Queen were on equal footing in terms of their contribution. Bowie was a “guest” but his voice is as integral as that of Freddie Mercury’s. That was my expectation for “Kingdom” before I heard it. I felt gypped at the end. That said, I thought Simon’s part sounded lovely (too bad one has to wait until half of the tune is done before hearing him).

    1. I hear what you’re saying…but ultimately it was Simon’s choice whether to do the song or not. Personally I was pleased to hear it turned out so well, even though I agree that it would have made more sense had he been featured throughout the song. He doesn’t show up until 2/3 of the way through (and I’m being generous with that). Had he done a similar line of vocals after the first and second choruses, it would have made more sense, IMO…but I’m just a blogger. 😀 -R

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