Tarantino's worst movie (according to people who are not me) has his best soundtrack. Not just in the individual track selections — featuring a superlative assortment of rock and roll, blues, glam rock, instrumental pieces and even some modern ye-ye pop for good measure — but in capturing Tarantino's Tarantinuity. It's all here, the lip-smacking Beatnik energy, the wanton quirkiness, the perpetual throwback to several bygone cinematic eras, the hip-swelling sexiness, hell, even the scarce dialogue pieces boil down the essence of the Tarantino pinball dialogue that culture nerds everywhere now try to emulate in their screenplays and tweets. If you gave this to me as a playlist with no context, I'd still think this was the soundtrack to a Tarantino film. And while the collection of songs doesn't capture the terror of a slasher flick, it certainly captures the fun of watching one.
It's also a great bar soundtrack; 75% of these songs take place before the movie's second act at Guero's, home of the famous nachos. Vanessa Ferlito's lap dance? She's at once earnest, desperate, confident and even sorta confused as to why she's doing it. But what nails that scene for me is that all these emotions are scored to The Coasters' "Down in Mexico," emphasizing the last-call lust while foreshadowing that, yes, some bad shit is gonna happen after this. Willy DeVille's manic motorbilly "It's So Easy" guides us through film's sudden transition to its lengthy, less-musical second act, the song title a reference to Stuntman Mike's nefarious schemes. But even when the girls turn the tables on Mike, pursing him as Eddie Beram's apocalyptic "Riot in Thunder Alley" thunders in the background, you secretly never want them to catch him, just to see what other gems pop up on AM Quentin.