Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is well known for his critically acclaimed films. His style of filmmaking includes ensemble casts, non linear storylines, extended dialogs, pop culture, dark humor, and violence. Pulp Fiction contains all of these elements. The 1994 film was a critical success and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It’s ensemble cast includes John Travolta (making a comeback) as hit man Vincent Vega, Samuel L. Jackson as prophesying hit man Jules Winnfield, Bruce Willis as boxer Butch Coolidge, Ving Rhames as crime boss Marsellus Wallace, and Uma Thurman as Wallaces’ wife. What really drives the interwoven storylines is the eclectic music. It’s a mix of rock ‘n roll, surf rock, pop, soul, and country. Pulp Fiction remains one of Quentin Tarantino’s most watched movies and best soundtracks..
9. Surf Rider
Surf Rider is the theme song of Pulp Fiction. The Lively Ones recorded the song in the 1960’s Surf Rock was a big genre in the 1960’s Surf Rock developed in Southern California in the early 1960’s. The instrumental music evokes the feeling of surfing the big waves in Southern Calfornia. It’s fast paced with rapid picking. It features electric guitars with heavy reverberation. Quentin Tarantino chose eclectic music to drive the narrative of Pulp Fiction. A large part of this was surf rock.
8. Bustin’ Surfboards
Bustin’ Surfboards was a popular song by The Tornadoes during the early 1960’s. It was one of the first surf rock songs to become a hit. The song features the typical surf rock features including a fast pace and electric guitar. Bustin’ Surfboards also features the sound of waves crashing in the background throughout the song. Just as the song Surf Rider played during Pulp Fiction, Bustin’ Surfboards makes an appearance in Pulp Fiction bringing the element of surf rock to the eclectic soundtrack of Pulp Fiction.
7. Lonesome Town
Lonesome Town hit the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R & B Charts when Ricky Nelson released the song in 1958. The song made an appearance in Pulp Fiction. The song plays in the background at the 1950’s themed restaurant/diner Jack Rabbit. Vincent is asked by his boss Marsellus Wallace to take his wife Mia out while Wallace is out of town. Vincent is attracted to Mia and it is awkward taking her out. He knows he can’t cross any lines or Wallace will kill him. The song Lonesome Town obviously fits in perfectly at the 1950’s themed club. It plays as Vincent and Mia sit at their table and begin their conversation.
6. Jungle Boogie
Jungle Boogie is featured in Pulp Fiction. The song was released by Kool and The Gang in 1973. It was a popular song played in night clubs through the 1970’s. Quentin Tarantino uses the song in Pulp Fiction. His choice of music for the film is eclectic, and Jungle Boogie fits into that mix bringing a retro feeling to the movie. Jungle Boogie ads a funk sound to the surf rock, rock ‘n roll, and soul music peppered throughout the film.
5. Let’s Stay Together
Al Green’s 1972 hit Let’s Stay Together in the background of the bar as Wallace talks to Butch. The shot is of Butch staring at Wallace stoically as Wallace tells him his boxing career is about over. Wallace delivers an extended dialogue explaining to Butch that he never made it big and he never will. Wallace tells Butch he must take a dive in his next boxing match and offers him a bribe. Butch wants the money, but you can see by the look on his face the news that his boxing career is over is devastating to his ego. Butch double crosses Wallace and bets the money on himself to win the boxing match.
4. You Never Can Tell
The Chuck Berry 1964 hit You Never an Tell is featured prominently in Pulp Fiction. When Mia and Vincent go to the 1950’s themed Jack Rabbit diner style restaurant where Mia insists they perform in the club’s Twist Contest. Vincent is trying hard not to be attracted to his boss’ flirtatious wife. He follows her orders and dances with her in the contest which they win. They dance to You Never Can Tell which has a decidedly 1950’s feel.
3. Flowers On the Wall
Flowers On the Wall was a Grammy winning hit for The Statler Brothers in 1966. In Pulp Fiction, the song is playing on Butch’s car radio after he kills hit man Vincent when Butch returns to his apartment to retrieve his father’s watch as he’s going on the run. While driving to freedom, Butch sings along with Flowers On the Wall the line “smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo”. He repeated the line in his movie Die Hard With a Vengeance the following year. Unfortunately, Butch sees Wallace crossing the street and hits him causing an accident and a different ending than Butch anticipated.
2. Son of a Preacher Man
Dusty Springfield’s hit 1968 song Son of a Preacher Man was her last hit song before she recorded What Have You Done For Me Lately with the Pet Shop Boys in the 1980’s. Her 1968 hit gained a whole new audience when it was featured in 1994’s Pulp Fiction. In fact, the song reached number 1 on Iceland’s music charts in 1995. In Pulp Fiction the song plays when Vincent goes to his bosses house to pick up Mia for their “date”. Wallace asked Vincent to take her out while he was out of town. Vincent takes drugs before he goes, and Mia playfully watches him on hidden camera as he confusedly enters the home and, instructed by her, turns Son of a Preacher Man on the stereo.
1. Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon
Neil Diamond’s chart topping 1967 hit Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon got a second life in Pulp Fiction. This version is performed by Urge Overkill. The song plays as Mia and Vincent return from the Jack Rabbit where they won the twist contest. Mia dances into Wallace and her home with Vincent. Mia is wearing Vincent’s coat and finds what she thinks is cocaine. It’s heroine that she snorts. Vincent doesn’t realize what she did and is determined to leave his boss’ wife despite his attraction to her. Mia begins to convulse, and Vincent knows he has to take her to the dealer to save her life not only because of he likes her but because his boss will kill him if she dies.