Nothing You Can Take from Me by Rachel Zegler
The latest Hunger Games movie to come out (as of this writing) is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and the lead actress of the film, Rachel Zegler, has notable musical talent.
In the flick, Zegler takes on the role of “Lucy Gray Baird”, a fictional character who is a musician herself. So instead of lip syncing as movie actresses tend to do, Rachel used the opportunity to lend her own voice, from the perspective of Lucy Gray, a number of songs from the film’s soundtrack. And one of such tracks is Nothing You Can Take from Me, which Geffen Records put out with the rest of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (Music From & Inspired By) on 17 November 2023.
We have yet to watch The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ourselves, which is probably a good thing, as now this article won’t contain any spoilers. But as can be gleaned by these lyrics and even the track’s title, this is a song of defiance. And accordingly, what we have been able to ascertain is that Zegler renders it in one or two scenes in which she’s exhibiting Lucy’s rebellious and bold nature, even in the face of death.
To some degree, it does help to know the storyline of The Hunger Games in understanding this song. For example, the term “Capitol” that pops up before all is said and done is actually a reference to “a tyrannical dictatorship”, i.e. an oppressive government that plays a prominent role in the series. But all things considered, within the context of the lyrics that term can arguably be taken as a reference to any less-than-ideal government, i.e. a power structure or entity that woefully exploits its own constituents. And with that said, it does feel as if within the series the “Capitol” is meant to serve as a metaphor for a group of leaders who are completely caught up in their own hubris.
As for the thesis sentiment, what Lucy (and others) are arguing is that, as exploitative as the addressee (i.e. the Capitol) may be, they do not have the power to take anything away from her that she actually values. Or a simpler, more realistic way of looking at it is as the vocalist presenting herself as not being afraid of her nemesis, even though the latter, as inferred, has the advantage. Indeed, as indicated by some other wording found in the song, the occasion that is prompting Lucy to render this song is not one which, under normal circumstances, calls for singing. Yet she not only expresses her soul musically but also concludes by letting the addressee know that the one thing they “can” do is ‘kiss her a*s’.
Writing & Production Credits
This song was written by Dave Cobb and Suzanne Collins. And Cobb, who is a behind-the-scenes’ country musician, also produced the track.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, though having a recurring musical element, is classified as a dystopian action film. However, Rachel Ziegler did recently star in a straight-up big budget musical film, which was Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021). And in-between then and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, she took on the non-musical though still notable role of “Anthea” in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023).