Album: Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond
Taylor Swift roots for Katniss during the Hunger Games in the protective “Eyes Open.”
A grim guitar opens the single, setting a wary tone. The chorus starts the single. The camera panned to Katniss again, high up in the tree. Her head is to the side, her loose ponytail brushing her face. Katniss, whether she wants to be or not, has become a symbol of hope for everyone in Districts 3 through 12. For President Snow, she’s a threat to the status quo. (“Everybody's waiting/Everybody's watching/Even when you're sleeping/Keep your eyes open.”)
As required by law, she attends the lottery every year. She stands with her classmates in their freshly pressed skirts and dress shirts. Her fingers dig into her hands, cutting tiny half-moon shapes within them. She stands straight. Effie, though her voice is booming through the speakers, she can only see her lips move. She remembers at eight-years-old hiding behind the pole of her best friend’s swing set, avoiding the wooden sword coming her way. Her best friend would capture her and then she would fall to the ground, tickling her. Little did they know then that it was practice. At 12, her best friend was chosen as a tribute and never returned home. Mandated to view the Games, she watched her friend suffer and bleed out on screen. It was then she realized dying was even politicized and she was considered a pawn. (“The tricky thing /Is yesterday we were just children/Playing soldiers, just pretending /Dreaming dreams with happy endings/In backyards/Winning battles with our wooden swords/But now we've stepped into a cruel world/Where everybody stands and/Keeps score.”)
In between, she bites her nails. Katniss has survived so far. (“Keep your eyes open.”)
In the second chorus, the cannon was fired for Rue. Since then, the camera has been following Katniss, closing in on her face, searching for a tear. In response, Rue’s district sent Katniss some bread, an unheard event. She looks to her mom, her eyes wide, wondering if it mean anything in the long-term. (“Everybody's waiting, for you to breakdown/Everybody's watching, to see the fallout/Even when you're sleeping, sleeping/Keep your eyes open/Keep your eyes open.
In between, she repeats “keep your eyes open.” President Snow has to be gunning for her now.
At the Corncopia, now laced with explosives, Katniss perches in the corner, her aim set. Her shoots her arrow and then runs, carrying the supplies she needs. Whoever Katniss was before the Games, she is now someone much harder. The Gamemakers have tried to kill her with fire and poison. None of it has worked. By her district’s past history, she should have been long gone now. (“So here you are/Two steps ahead, and staying on guard/Every lesson forms a new scar/They never thought you'd make it this far.”)
The announcement that only one person can win has shaken her. Katniss and Peeta are facing each other. She sees them putting the berries to the mouth. They either have the choice to submit to the government or start a rebellion. The Gamemakers say both Katniss and Peeta are the winners. Katniss, unlike past tributes before her, has remained human and someone the residents in other districts can relate. (“But turn around/Oh, they've surrounded with/A showdown/And nobody comes to save you now/But you got something they don't/Yeah you got something they don't.”)
She repeats “you just gotta keep your eyes open.”
The second chorus is sung again.
In the bridge, the rebellion has already begun. Whatever will kept Katniss alive during the Games must remain intact. Around District 12, she has noticed some subtle changes. There is more security standing watch. Meanwhile, certain Peacekeepers are disappearing. (“Keep your eyes/Keep your feet ready/Heartbeat steady/Keep your eyes open/Keep your aim locked/The night grows dark/Keep your eyes open.”)
Swift repeats “keep your eyes open” four times to end the single.
Swift’s concerned vocals rise with belief that things will get better. It could’ve been her in the Games and unlike Katniss, she would’ve been able to make it. Like so many others, she would’ve died the first day. It is because of Katniss that she feels as though she may live to past age eighteen. Even possibly have a family someday.
The single, though, for Swift is a turning point. She’s venturing into darker themes and experimenting with her vocals. It’s a side of her which has remained unseen, kept hidden by fairtytales and endless heartbreak. She’s genuinely trying to mature her sound here.
The creative “Eyes Open” is a personal account of a resident of District 12, expanding on the world within in the book and adding to its lore.