Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction Music Poster Image
Swearing in audio clips undercuts superb classic tunes.

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age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

A couple of the songs on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack carry a strong romantic message: Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)," for example, while some others are just awesome surf tunes. However, the integration of rude and violent dialogue from the film serves to connect this soundtrack to the film, but, like the film, also glorifies violence in clever and quite offensive ways.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one would say the Pulp Fiction film is about great role models, but the soundtrack is full of songs by wonderful musicians, many of whom were pioneers in their genres: Chuck Berry, one of the architects of rock 'n' roll; Al Green, the great soul singer turned minister; Dick Dale, the master of surf guitar. For musicians and music lovers, there's lots to discover here.

Violence

The Pulp Fiction soundtrack begins with an audio clip from the film, where a robbery is in progress, and a woman shouts, "Any of you f--king pricks move, and I'll execute every mother-f--king last one of you." The last track, "Ezekiel 25:17," is the audio from the scene in which Samuel Jackson's character, Jules, reads from the Bible, and then he and Vincent (John Travolta) open fire, murdering Brett (played by Frank Whaley).

Sex

"Jungle Boogie" by Kool & the Gang includes some suggestive grunting and sensual dance-related lines like "get down" and "shake it around." "Let's Stay Together" has a sensual groove and lyrics about love and "loving you forever."

Language

None of the songs on the soundtrack contains offensive language, but the included dialogue from the film tracks has lots of curse words: "f--k," "mother-f--king," "s--t," "pricks."

Consumerism

Track 2 on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack is "Royale with Cheese," an audio clip from the scene where Vincent tells Jules that in France, where they use the metric system, McDonald's calls its Quarter Pounder with cheese a "Royale" with cheese.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

 "Royale with Cheese" includes Vincent and Jules' discussion about how it's legal to smoke hash in Amsterdam, but only in certain places, and the police are not allowed to search people for drugs. They also talk about buying beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction is mainly a collection of superb, classic surf, rock 'n' roll, soul and folk songs that were used in the film. Artists represented include Dick Dale, Chuck Berry, Al Green, Dusty Springfield, Kool & the Gang, and Ricky Nelson. However, several tracks either consist of, or include, dialogue from the film, much of which could offend sensitive listeners. The dialogue includes "f--k" in various forms, as well as "s--t" and "prick." One track discusses buying beer and smoking hash in Amsterdam. A couple of songs are somewhat sexually suggestive, but there's no explicit sexual content. There is, however, threatened and actual violence; the final track includes the sound of a man being gunned down.

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What's the story?

MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE PULP FICTION is the soundtrack album from Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film. It features mainly the classic surf, rock 'n' roll, folk, and soul music used incidentally in the film. Artists include Dick Dale, Chuck Berry, Al Green, Kool & the Gang, the Statler Brothers, Ricky Nelson, and Dusty Springfield. Also on the soundtrack is Urge Overkill's cover of the Neil Diamond song "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," and several audio clips from the film. The movie clips are reflective of the film's dark humor, and its frequent use of curse words and violence.

Is it any good?

There are some outstanding classic tunes on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack: Dick Dale's "Misirlou," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," and Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie," to name just a few. The musical selection is superb, well-balanced, high-test fun. However, the inclusion of potentially offensive audio clips from the film definitely affects the musical listening experience, and could spoil it for some listeners.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the inclusion of dialogue from the film in the soundtrack. Why do you think the producers added selected bits of dialogue to this music album? Do you like having the dialogue on the album?

  • What effect do you feel the vintage music has on the film? How would different music change the tone of the movie?

  • Did you discover some music or a genre of music that's new to you by listening to this album?

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