Yesterday morning I remembered it was Quentin Tarantino’s 50th anniversary. I’m not very objective when talking about him because I’m a diehard fan. I think he’s a genius, period.
There are many features to be analyzed (and praised) related to Tarantino’s films. Some time ago I wrote an article highlighting the important role of women in his stories, categorizing them depending on their attitude, charisma and impact on the development of his scripts. From Fabienne, Butch’s girl in Pulp Fiction, to the smart ass Jackie Brown or the vengeful Black Mamba in Kill Bill, without forgetting an intense Mia Wallace and Butterfly’s lap dance. All women have something special, and a remarkable importance in Tarantino’s universe, leaving the feet fetishism aside. In case you’re interested I could try to recover the article I published on Norma Jean Magazine and adapt into English. Just let me know.
This time, and very inspired by the controversial rap scene in Django Unchained, and the disgust shown by the master of soundtracks Ennio Morricone in his recent statements asserting he will never work with the director again due to his incoherence when matching music with scenes, I feel like talking about the musical side of Tarantino’s films.
It’s precisely that incoherence Morricone mentions what drives me crazy the most. The unexpected song in a crucial or intense loaded scene sounds. It’s so shocking I always think “damn bastard, he’s made it again!”.
On the other hand, reviewing all the soundtracks in which Tarantino’s been involved, you quickly realize his musical background is brilliant. To be honest, I wouldn’t have listened to the Delfonics or The RZA if it wasn’t because of his films, and believe me, Pulp Fiction is responsible for the discovery of Urge Overkill’s Saturation back in the day.
It’s true that because of this vintage halo Tarantino wants to soak in his films, soundtracks mostly rely on 60s and 70s bands hits, R&B and soul mainly. Excellent! I always discover some cool stuff.
Enjoying The Huey Show on BBC6Music so much lately, I only wish Quentin had his own radio show. That’d be awesome, don’t you think?
This been said I think now it’s the perfect time for a Tarantino jukebox.
1. Little Green Bag by The George Baker Selection
Not many opening credits have ever been so attractive. How much time did Tarantino spend building this scene and then adding the song? I have no idea. What I know is that he was already writing a new chapter in the history of cinema, not only marking a difference, but also creating an trademark. And of course, those men in black walking became an icon.
2. Django by Rocky Roberts & Luis Bacalov
Django was actually the main theme of the original 1967 Italian spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci. This song is the perfect example of this style soundtrack. Vintage, classic, and has this desert touch.
3. Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack
After carrying out a master plot, Jackie’s finally won and has defeated all her enemies. She’s a survivor and Womack’s hit couldn’t suit her better. “Doing whatever I had to do to survive, I’m not saying what I did was alright, trying to break out of the ghetto was a day to day fight”.
4. Yakuza Oren 1 by The RZA
Former Cottonmouth has become the leader of the yakuza mafia in Tokyo and she loves her powerful position. The arrival in The House of Blue Leaves of O-Ren Ishii with her entourage, formed by Sofie Fatale, Gogo Yubari and some of the Crazy 88 guards is a brilliant sequence, and RZA’s work here impressive.
5. You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry
Probably one of the greatest scenes ever, not just for the dance but for who is actually dancing. John Travolta, better known as the king of the dance floor thanks to his role as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, had been forgotten for many years. Tarantino rescued him and transformed him into Vincent Vega, forced to dance with the boss’ woman just for her pleasure. They are terrible but still they win. Terrific!
6. Down In Mexico by The Coasters
Jungle Julia had announced on her radio show the reward of a lap dance performed by her friend Butterfly in case a guy was showing up and followed her instructions. Stuntman Mike is the guy, and already a bit loaded Arlene accepts dancing for him. And she’s really good.
7. L’Arena by Ennio Morricone
Beatrixx has fallen on the trap set by Budd, Bill’s brother. Instead of executing her, he decides to make her suffer till her last sigh and buries her tied up inside a wooden coffin with just a torch. The warrior woman remembers her hard times being trained by Master Pai Mei, and starts focusing on breaking the wood of the coffin. Morricone’s theme in crescendo creates a super intense scene.
8. Cat People (Putting Out Of Fire) by David Bowie
The night of the premiere of A Nation’s Pride has finally arrived, and now it’s time Shoshanna gets her revenge. She must be ready for everything which is about to happen and put on her war paint.
9. Misirlou by Dick Dale &His Del-Tones
Pumpkin and Honey Bunny not only start an armed robbery but also one of the craziest stories in the film history, and Misirlou is an insane instrumental song after all which fits masterly. The way it starts after the two robbers yelling is great:
Everybody be cool this is a robbery!
Any of you fuckin’ pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you
10. Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel
The jukebox ends with another theme included in Reservoir Dogs. This scene, with (hot hot hot) Michael Madsen, this is Mr. Blonde, dancing and cutting the infamous ear, deserves my eternal love. So masterly executed, it’s so mean and brutal, it should be rewarded or something.