The Cabin In The Woods
Song: “Roll With The Changes” by REO Speedwagon

I love a good contrasting soundtrack. While most of the music moments on this list are highlighted for using songs in scenes and matching tones and moods, movies that take the complete opposite approach on purpose are sometimes even better than the straightforward method. Take, for example, the use of REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With The Changes” in Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in The Woods. The happy, upbeat track begins to play as the technicians in the control room begin to celebrate another successful mission, all while poor, innocent Dana (Kristen Connolly) is getting the hell beaten from her by Judah Buckner on the big screen.

This song wouldn’t have made the list if it were just a funny track to play during the scene, but fortunately one can always rely on the cleverness of the Goddard-Joss Whedon team. Looking at the song’s lyrics one could interpret it as being about a man trying to get a woman to trust him after she has had a series of poor relationships, but the theme could easily be applied to the film’s final scene, where Dana and fellow victim Marty (Fran Kranz) decide that it’s time for the world to end and “to give someone else a chance.” Sometimes you just have to roll with the changes.

Django Unchained
Song: “Who Did That To You” by John Legend

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film opens with the track “Django,” the song written by Franco Migliacci and performed by Ricky Roberts for the 1966 Franco Nero movie of the same name, but the truth is that the escaped slave protagonist of Django Unchained doesn’t earn his theme until the third act, but does so in spectacular fashion. After being forced back into slavery and seeing his partner murdered, Django (Jamie Foxx) uses his wits to outfox the crew of Aussie slave traders (Tarantino, John Jarratt, Michael Parks) who are taking him to his next owners and just as he walks out of a cloud of dynamite smoke we hear “Who Did That To You” by John Legend blasting from the speakers.

This film actually marks the first time that Tarantino has used original music written directly for the movie, and in the way Legend’s song is used it’s clear that the writer/director had a very specific plan. As the track plays and Django reemerges on to the screen, he is no longer just the escaped slave turned bounty hunter: he is a mythical figure, like Siegfried from Dr. King Schultz’s (Christoph Waltz) fairytale. And every great mythical figure needs a theme, especially one with lyrics like “If he’s not ready to die, he best prepare for it/My judgment’s divine, I tell you who you can call.”

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