Surprised to see Simon Le Bon’s name in the credits of the forthcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Pt. I soundtrack? So is he.
“I got a call from [my manager] who said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, Simon, but there’s a slot for you to do a duet with Charli XCX for the new Hunger Games film," says the Duran Duran frontman. “I said, ‘Great!' It was just a dead ‘yes.' What an opportunity!
“I’m a big fan of Charli XCX," Le Bon continues. “I think she’s got something very special. And then I’m told that Rostam Batmanglij was producing it—I really like [Batmanglij’s band] Vampire Weekend and their sound. I don’t know whose idea it was, but it’s a bloody good one.”
The pairing —for a song called “Kingdom," which is credited to Charli XCX feat. Simon Le Bon —was the brainchild of none other than Lorde, the soundtrack’s curator, according to the Kiwi’s publisher, Ron Perry, of Songs Music Publishing. “She’s a Duran Duran fan," he says.
Although Le Bon, who just turned 56, and 17-year-old Grammy-winner Lorde have yet to meet in person, “we’ve been emailing each other," he says. “She’s very vocal, very communicative.”
Le Bon describes “Kingdom" as “really different…very out-there." Musically, it has “a nursery-rhyme sort of melody," he says, but, lyrically, it’s “very, very, very dark." Charli XCX sounds “like this beautiful little caged bird singing. I played against the innocence, sweetness, and naiveté—I’m the dark lord in the [lyrics] I wrote. She’s the lightness and I’m the slightly scary thing.”
The two singers recorded their parts separately. “It all happened really quickly," Le Bon says. “I was in New York for Fashion Rocks [on Sept. 9], and I went into the studio the next day with Rostam. It was very easy to record —I was only in the studio for about two and a half hours. I hope to get more job offers like this. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m available!”
Coincidentally, Duran Duran had extended an invitation to Charli earlier this year to contribute vocals to their next album, Le Bon says. "[Duran keyboardist] Nick [Rhodes] shot photos of her for a magazine. He’s been trying to get her to come and make a guest appearance, but it was just not practical due to logistical matters."
Other artists assembled by Lorde for the Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Pt. I soundtrack include Grace Jones, the Chemical Brothers, Chvrches, the Lumineers, Diplo, and Miguel. The soundtrack will be released on Nov.17, four days ahead of the film, which is the third in the Hunger Game series.
“Funnily enough, I’m a very big Jennifer Lawrence fan," Le Bon says. “I’m a little bit obsessed.”
Lori Majewski is the co-author of Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s, available on Amazon.