If any director has mastered the art of the movie soundtrack, it’s Quentin Tarantino. Ever since he curated the hugely impressive soundtrack to his directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs, he’s continued to demonstrate his exceptional taste in music with each subsequent film. The music to 2012’s Django Unchained proved no exception, blending a score by Ennio Morricone with an eclectic mix of songs that hop between genres and decades effortlessly. Here’s how we rank all the songs from the Django Unchained soundtrack in order of greatness.
31. Django Theme Song – Rocky Roberts & Luis Bacalov
The writing credits for the Django Theme Song belong to Luis Bacalov, while Franco Migliacci and Robert Mellin can take the credit for the lyrics. Bacalov performed the song alongside R&B singer Rocky Roberts. Tarantino pilfered the song from the 1966 film, Django.
30. His Name Was King – Luis Bacalov & Edda Dell’Orso
Giancarlo Romitelli’s 1971 Spaghetti-Western, Lo Chiamavano King, provided several songs to the Django Unchained soundtrack, including this track performed by Luis Bacalov and Edda Dell’Orsa.
29. Rito Finale – Ennio Morricone
If the soundtrack to Django Unchained sounds familiar, it’s because most of the songs have featured in earlier films. Rito Finale first popped up in Sergio Sollima’s 1970 film, Città Violenta.
28. The Braying Mule – Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone originally composed The Braying Mule for the 1970 movie, Two Mules for Sister Sara.
27. Main Titles Theme Song (Lo Chiamavano King) – Luis Bacalov
Main Titles Theme Song (Lo Chiamavano King) was written by Luis Bacalov for the 1971 film, Lo Chiamavano King. Over 40 years later, Tarantino dug it out from the archives and gave it a second lease of life on the Django Unchained soundtrack.
26. Norme Con Ironie – Ennio-Morricone
As indiewire.com points out, this Ennio-Morricone penned composition was originally written for the 1970 Charles Bronson picture, Città Violenta.
25. La Corsa (2nd Version) – Luis Bacalov
Tarantino raided the soundtrack of the 1966 movie Django once again for this masterful track from Luis Bacalov.
24. Nicaragua – Jerry Goldsmith feat. Pat Metheny
Performed by Jerry Goldsmith and guest vocalist Pat Metheny, Nicaragua was pilfered from the soundtrack of the 1983 political thriller, Under Fire.
23. Ancora Qui – Ennio Morricone & Elisa
Ancora Qui was composed by Ennio Morricone and performed by Morricone and the Italian singer-songwriter, Elisa.
22. Sister Sara’s Theme – Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone wrote Sister Sara’s Theme for the Clint Eastwood spaghetti-western, Two Mules for Sister Sara.
21. Un Monument – Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone originally composed and performed Un Monument for Sergio Corbucci’s 1967 Spaghetti-Western, The Hellbenders.
20. Ode to Django (The D Is Silent) – RZA
As the film credits roll, it’s RZA’s Ode to Django (The D Is Silent) that you’ll hear playing in the backdrop. (Tru’ James) Stone Meccam helps out with the instruments, while the snippets of dialogue come from Tonino Valerii’s Day of Anger, Sergio Corbucci’s Django and Eugenio Martin’s The Bounty Killers (aka The Ugly Ones).
19. Trinity: Titoli – Annibale E I Cantori Moderni
Composed by Franco Micalizzi and Harold Stott and performed by Annibale E I Cantori Moderni, Trinity: Titoli originally showed up on the 1970 Spaghetti-Western, Lo Chiamavano Trinità.
18. Dies Irae (Requiem) – Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
This piece by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra is taken from Kinji Fuksaku‘s 2002 cult classic, Battle Royale.
17. Minacciosamente Lotano – Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone composed Minacciosamente Lotano for Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti-Western, Crudeli, I (The Hellbenders).
16. Town of Silence – Luis Bacalov
Luis Bacalov’s Town of Silence was appropriated from Sergio Corbucci‘s Django, which provided a huge source of inspiration to Tarantino during the making of the movie.
15. Town of Silence (2nd Version) – Luis Bacalov
Why stick with one version of a song when you could have two for the same price? The 2nd version of Town of Silence is, like the 1st, lifted from Sergio Corbucci‘s Django.
14. Blue Dark Waltz – Luis Bacalov
Another nod to the soundtrack of Sergio Corbucci‘s Django next, this time with Blue Dark Waltz.
13. Für Elise – Ashley Toman
Für Elise is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions, and here, it’s performed with wonderful grace by Ashley Toman.
12. Dopo La Congiura – Ennio Morricone
Another choice sample from Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti-Western, The Hellbenders, next, this time in the shape of Ennio Morricone’s Dopo La Congiura.
11. I Giorni Dell’Ira – Riz Ortolani
This composition by Riz Ortolani originally showed up on Tonino Valerii’s 1967 Spaghetti-Western, Days of Anger.
10. The Big Risk – Ennio Morricone
The Big Risk first appeared in the 1970 Rock Hudson movie, Hornets’ Nest.
9. Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Will the Circle Be Unbroken first appeared as the titular track on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s triumphant seventh album from 1972.
8. Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable) – James Brown and 2Pac
This compelling mash-up of James Brown and 2Pac was mixed and edited by producer Claudio Cueni.
7. Who Did That to You? – John Legend
As All Music points out, while the Django Unchained soundtrack relies heavily on the past, there’s also a strong dose of the present in the form of hip-hop and R&B tracks like Who Did That to You? from John Legend.
6. 100 Black Coffins – Rick Ross
100 Black Coffins was written and produced by Jamie Foxx and performed by rapper Rick Ross. Released as a single from the soundtrack, it became a minor hit in Europe, reaching number 100 in Germany and number 69 in France.
5. Too Old to Die Young – Brother Dege
Even if you’re not usually a fan of folk, this soulful, bluesy gem from Brother Dege might be the song to convert you.
4. Ain’t No Grave (Black Opium Remix) – Johnny Cash
Ain’t No Grave started out as a traditional gospel but too on a country twist when Johnny Cash recorded it just before his death in September 2003.
3. I Got a Name – Jim Croce
As Billboard notes, I Got a Name may have been bigger and more grandiose in lyric and melody content than Jim Croce’s usual funky material, but it was none the worse for it. Released just one day after his death in a plane crash in September 1973, the song spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, parking at number 10.
2. Freedom – Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton
With a great beat, great lyrics, great vocals, and great interplay between Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton, Freedom is a stunning example of what makes the Django Unchained soundtrack such essential listening.
1. Freedom – Richie Havens
When Richie Havens stood on the stage at Woodstock and sang Freedom, he made history. What made it all the more extraordinary was that he improvised most of it on the spot.