Lawrence recently discussed her unlikely turn as a singer on the Nov. 12 Late Show With David Letterman on CBS. "I do not like singing in front of other people. It's, like, my biggest fear. I cried on set that day," she told Letterman. "That was awful."
Given the song's reception, her fears were unfounded.
The plaintive ballad roars onto the Hot 100 with 88 percent of its chart points from sales. It enters the Digital Songs chart at No. 2 with 200,000 downloads sold in its first week (ending Nov. 30).
The remainder of its points are almost all from streaming (2.1 million U.S. streams, which place the track just outside the 50-position Streaming Songs chart). The song logged a mere eight plays on U.S. radio last week (a shout-out to Pop Songs chart reporter KHKS Dallas, which spun it six times), but Republic is only just now launching it at all radio formats.
"Tree" was written by Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games series of books) and the Lumineers' Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz. The song is heard in the film first as an a cappella performance by Lawrence (in character as Katniss Everdeen). Later, she's joined by a choir and orchestra.
Lawrence, 24, joins an exclusive list of winners of Academy Awards in acting who've charted on the Hot 100, including Julie Andrews, Walter Brennan, George Burns, Cher, Bing Crosby, Patty Duke, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Hudson, Burl Ives, Shirley Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Frank Sinatra, Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand.
Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.
"Tree" is additionally the highest-charting Hot 100 hit related to any Hunger Games film (of three so far; the fourth and final movie is scheduled to open in theaters on Nov. 20, 2015). It bests Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," from The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond, which peaked at No. 19 in 2012.
As for Howard, 63, "Tree" marks his first Hot 100 hit. He's one of the most decorated composers in Hollywood history, having earned eight Oscar nominations. Among his scores: Pretty Woman (1990), The Prince of Tides (1991) and Maleficent (this year), along with the first three Hunger Games movies.