Safe & Sound

Last night, MTV premiered the music video for the Taylor Swift / The Civil Wars collaboration “Safe and Sound”This song is being promoted in conjunction with the upcoming soundtrack for the film The Hunger Games. It is the first song to be released off the album and having a superstar like Swift on the track is creating massive buzz.
As a huge fan of Taylor’s, I recognize this song being a significant departure from what she normally does. I also happen to be familiar with The Civil Warsprior work, and their influence on “Safe and Sound” is obvious. The melody builds to a haunting crescendo and the lyrics paint a dark picture. The song fits the tone of the film perfectly. This is, after all, a story about children forced to fight each other to the death, not Swift’s usual subject matter of heartbreak and high school, so the change makes sense.
The music video continues the dystopian themes of the novels. People may be surprised to see something like this coming from the country princess, but those who have been following Swift lately know that her last few videos showed a growing maturity in both style and substance. Gone are the “evil brunette cheerleader” scenes; instead we now see Taylor with very little makeup or production. She walks barefoot through a barren forest, which I view as a metaphor for the unforgiving arena of the Hunger Games. The song’s opening stanza makes it obvious that this song is supposed to be from the perspective of our heroine Katniss, sung to her little sister Prim (whose place she takes in the Games, effectively saving her life).
I remember tears streaming down your face
When I said, I’ll never let you go
When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said, Don’t leave me here alone
But all that’s dead and gone and passed tonight
The video intercuts scenes of Taylor’s wandering with those of The Civil Wars sitting in an old rundown house by a fire. As the song reaches its lullaby-like chorus, we can see that the landscape behind Taylor is burning and smoke fills the already gray sky.
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound
One of the most iconic moments of the first book is when Katniss is formally introduced to The Capitol. She and her fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta Mellark are on fire, literally. Their clothes were set ablaze (using futuristic technology) in an attempt to make an unforgettable statement. It works, and from then on, Katniss is known as “The Girl on Fire”. This notoriety comes back to bite her in the arena. The game keepers decide to try and flush her out of hiding with a wall of fire and massive fireballs. This leads to the incineration of a large chunk of the forest and the famous line that Katniss wakes up to see “…the world on fire.” This moment was shown in the very first teaser trailer for the film.
Don’t you dare look out your window darling
Everything’s on fire
The war outside our door keeps raging on 
Hold onto this lullaby
Even when the music’s gone
Gone
Although the video stays away from blatant references to The Hunger Games, there is one moment that ensures that all viewers will know what movie this song is for. As Taylor arrives at charred remains of her house, she ventures into the bedroom and pulls out a blackened Mockingjay pin. This pin is one of the most important symbols in the entire series. In fact, the third book is titled Mockingjay. It is a symbol specifically of rebellion, and becomes synonymous with Katniss Everdeen. To see the once bright gold pin black and bent is obviously supposed to be significant. My guess is that, like in the series, this little trinket transforms into the literal manifestation of hope for the people of Katniss’ world.
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound
I enjoyed the video immensely. I still really love the song (even after a good two months of listening to it non-stop). Even the many T.Swift haters out there concede to liking the song (thanks in large part The Civil Wars) but nonetheless this is Taylor’s song and video to carry and she does it admirably. I hope this will usher in a new era in Swift’s career, because her fans, just like her, are growing up. Leave it to Taylor to do it on the biggest stage possible :)
BONUS! Here is the girl herself talking about the song, the movie, and the books. It’s an adorable interview so go watch it.

 

 

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