Season II of Killing Eve‘s twisted juxtaposition of innocent kids novelty song A Windmill in Old Amsterdam to the onscreen action in Dutch shop window brothel brought to mind The Knack’s Doug Feiger’s objection to Quentin Tarantino’s proposed use of his biggest hit My Sharona in Pulp Fiction.
According to Soundscan, the Pulp Fiction soundtrack sold 3 million copies; Reality Bites sold 1.9 million. Any regrets, Fieger?
“No,” he says matter-of-factly. “Reality Bites was a good film. And I am also a fan of Quentin Tarantino. I loved Reservoir Dogs…” he pauses.
“Put it this way, I’d much rather see Winona Ryder dancing in a 7-11 to my song than see Ving Rhames being sodomized in the back of a curio shop.”
Of course you can’t mention Quentin Tarantino’s use of ironic pop songs without thinking of that classic one hit wonder Stealers Wheel and their Stuck in the Middle With You sequence in Reservoir Dogs.
Windmill writers Dicks and Rudge have long since passed on, which for them in this context is probably for the best.
Bowie also covered the jaunty tune, presumably in his Laughing Gnome phase:
Perhaps one of the most surprising memorable scenes was in American Psycho, scored by everyone’s favorite 80’s pop group, Huey Lewis & the News.
Of course Tarantino himself trail-blazed the juxtaposition of pop tunes with violent imagery, which has led an explosion of its use in movies, including Tiny Tim’s Tiptoe Through The Tulips in Insidious, The Carpenters’ We’ve Only Just Begun in Room 1408, The Dickies’ Banana Splits in Kick Ass, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 (and many others) in Deadpool II, Enya’s Orinico Flow in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo etc.
Pre-Tarantino, mention must be made of John Landis’ use of pop as a contrapuntal against the onscreen action, notably Sam Cooke’s Blue Moon in An American Werewolf in London (1981). See also Syd Straw’s Que Sera, Sera at the beginning of Heathers (1988).
And of course in TV shows, including Nat King Cole’s Pick Yourself Up in Breaking Bad (a prison scene murder), more recently The Bay City Rollers’ Saturday Night in The Umbrella Academy, Treadstone‘s pivotal use of the French nursery rhyme Frère Jacques, and recently we heard The Inkspots’ I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire in HBO’s Watchmen.
Then of course, there was last year’s Joker sequence with the biggest hit of Gary Glitter’s career.
So, Bleeding Fool readers -- any others of note? There’s got to be many, many, more I didn’t mention. Sound off in the comments below.