Olivia Rodrigo just completed a major milestone in the career of a leading pop princess: she recorded a song for the new Hunger Games movie soundtrack. On Nov. 1, Lionsgate released a new trailer for the upcoming Hunger Games prequel called The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which revealed that Rodrigo would be featured on the soundtrack with an original song called “Can’t Catch Me Now.” The full song was released on Nov. 3. As a Livie and Hunger Games stan, I can confidently say that it’s perfect.
The Hunger Games has always had a special connection with the pop girlies of its time. Taylor Swift wrote the Grammy-winning song “Safe & Sound” for the first Hunger Games movie back in 2012; she even re-recorded it alongside Red (Taylor’s Version) in 2021! Lorde wrote “Yellow Flicker Beat” for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 in 2014 and curated the entire soundtrack herself. Swift and Lorde reigned teenage music charts in the early 2010s the same way Rodrigo is doing in 2023. It’s no wonder she got tapped to sing in the newest addition to the Hunger Games franchise.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered in the Reaping. It tells the story of the 10th Hunger Games, in which a young Coriolanus Snow (AKA the future President Snow) must mentor District 12’s female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird (played by Rachel Zegler). Music is a huge part of Lucy Gray’s character in the Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes book. She’s the most beloved singer-songwriter in District 12, and once she gets thrown into the Hunger Games, she makes the arena her stage. She’s basically the Olivia Rodrigo of Panem.
Rodrigo’s song “Can’t Catch Me Now,” played on an acoustic guitar with haunting overlapping vocals, sounds like Lucy Gray wrote it herself. The lyrics make subtle references to the characters and plot of Songbirds & Snakes, like “There’s snow falling over the city.” (Get it? Snow, like Coriolanus Snow? Genius.) I won’t spoil anything for you, but listen to the song again once you leave the movie theater on Nov. 17 — you’ll realize just how well it fits with Lucy Gray’s story.
“Can’t Catch Me Now” is Rodrigo’s first venture into the world of folk and indie music (besides the cover she did of Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season” for BBC Radio 1 in October 2023). Both of her Hunger Games soundtrack pop predecessors have come out with indie projects post-Panem. Is Rodrigo on the way to producing her own version of Folklore or Solar Power? Maybe in a few years. She’s still very much in her pop-rock slash upcoming world tour slash total global domination era. But if “Can’t Catch Me Now” is any indication, her fans and Hunger Games fans alike are going to be hungry for more folk vibes from the real-life songbird.