Study Guide

Reservoir Dogs Music (Score)

Music (Score)

Or Lack Thereof

There is no score. Not a single orchestral track—and there is a very limited number of original songs performed by the band Bedlam for the film. Whether this was an aesthetic choice made by Tarantino or a consequence of a tiny budget (or perhaps both), the tracks used in Reservoir Dogs certainly give it a unique feel.

The delightfully "Dylan-esque, pop, bubblegum" music (as K-Billy's calls it) that was so popular in the 70s gives the film its atmosphere. The audience and characters alike vibe with K-Billy's Super Sounds of the Seventies weekend.

With tracks like "Little Green Bag" by The George Barker Selection to officially introduce our main characters as they walk together in suits, or Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling," which gives us some great "hooga-chakkas" as we ride along first with cops and then the criminal gang to the meeting, we know we're in for a good time.

Except—we're not.

Joe Tex's "I Gotcha" plays as our protagonists violently kick a tied policeman at the warehouse. Suddenly, the sweet 70s sounds are paired with some ugly violence...which is unsettling.

And then, when Blonde is left alone with the cop, the track "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Steelers Wheel starts playing. Blonde goes from dancing and singing along to slicing the cop's ear off.

Yeah.

Tarantino has said he "found that the music was a terrific counterpoint to the action on screen." While most composers and directors try to fit the tone of the score to the tone of the narrative and action of the film, Tarantino breaks the rule to create violence that draws attention to itself in an unnerving way.

As the credits roll, right after that bloodbath of a standoff, we get perhaps the lightest, most whimsical track yet, Harry Nilsson's "Coconut." It almost feels like a palate cleanser, but in some ways it mocks the audience's ability to dismiss all the chaos and violence they witnessed and immediately walk out of the theater to resume their daily lives as if nothing happened.