Trying to pick the best soundtrack of all time or even the top ten is nearly ....nope, it's just downright impossible. However, what's easier to determine is someone whose films will always, without a doubt, be in that category: Quentin Tarantino. Fight scenes, sexy dancing, over-the-top gore, and badass music are what come to mind when someone mentions a Tarantino film. His latest western-themed movie about bounty hunting and slavery, Django: Unchained, follows suit. While many movies incorporate the same music and scene irony for dramatic effect; one might say Tarantino is the Godfather of cinematic juxtaposition with his music and scene choices and their comparability...or rather, their contrast. Any fan can recall the ear cut-off torture scene with "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel playing in the background, or Urge Overkill’s cover of Neil Diamond’s Latin-inspired “Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon” as the legendary Mia Wallace overdoses.
Everyone knows Tarantino has a knack for picking the perfect song to accompany his scenes...even if by perfect...they might seem at first totally opposite. Like pairing upbeat, happy-sounding 60's or 70's hits with a gory bloodshed, torture, or gun down scene, which is of course, why his soundtracks are so killer. Pun totally intended.
See, you can expect the folk, western, and even the Spanish, Italian, and classical bits in Django, but hip hop? A track by Rick Ross making an appearance? Now we’re talking. “100 Black Coffins” is an original song created just for this film, something Tarantino incorporated for the first time, and is three minutes and 39 seconds of this movie that I will re-watch over and over when it’s available on DVD.
While a Rick Ross track and a Tarantino movie scene set in historical pre-civil war times is a beautiful, beautiful marriage....I'm not even going to touch the mashup of James Brown’s 1973 “The Payback” and 2Pac’s “Untouchable” that became the theme to Unchained. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA has a track on the soundtrack that, without knowing better, I'd think it was from my Enter the “Wu-Tang (36 chambers)” CD.
Another gentleman who wrote a song for the film without even having seeing it or being present on-set was John Legend. The classy, bluesy, r&b singer/songwriter paired up with producer Paul Epworth to create “Who Did That to You?” which was probably my favorite song of the entire film. The opening lines are superb: “Now I’m not afraid to do the lord's work, you say vengeance is his, but Imma’ do it first. I’m gonna’ handle my business in the name of the law,” plus the soulful and effortless voice he has makes it that much more powerful. Frank Ocean also wrote a soulful track for the film, “WiseMan” that didn't make the final cut but is without a doubt worth the download.
So since our dream of wanting to be left alone for hours in a room filled with Tarantino's record collection probably will remain a dream....we will have to continue to live vicariously through his films and just imagine the incredible weirdness and equally awesomeness of hanging out with him in our heads as we increase our Tarantino soundtrack collection with each film. And for the miniscule amount of you out there who still haven’t seen the Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson hit: go now.