Movie Music Moment: Reservoir Dogs ("Hooked on a Feeling")

"Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede

as seen/heard in

Reservoir Dogs (1992)


Last week Guardians of the Galaxy burst onto screens and into our hearts. Since the first trailer I had a strong impression that we were in the midst of an instant classic. You may remember said trailer as it made wonderful use of Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling." Luckily, the song made its way into the final film and has likely been playing on repeat in your mind's ear all weekend along with Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love." Since that trailer I've been thinking of the first time that audiences would have heard "Hooked on a Feeling" in a film and that brings us to another Movie Music Moment.

It appears in the middle of Reservoir Dogs, the directorial debut of writer/director Quentin Tarantino. I cannot think of another filmmaker (okay, maybe Scorsese) who has used popular music to full effect as Tarantino has been doing throughout the course of his career. It's only fitting that this trait was such a dynamic part of his embarkment into cinema. 

The scene begins with Tim Roth's character in his apartment. (Hey, notice the Silver Surfer poster in the background? This film was meant to have a tie-in with a comic book movie down the road!) After giving himself a pep talk he heads outside to join his band of thieves, we then assume the perspective of a couple of doughnut-guzzlin' cops. As they pull away from the curb to tail the car in front of them, the "Ooga Chaka" commences. This is a Movie Music Moment that doesn't last very long, but it made such an impression on me from my very first viewing of the film.

It is established early on that we're going to be tuned in to K-Billy's Super Sounds of the Seventies throughout the film. Sometimes diegetic, sometimes not, the oldies radio station acts as our only source of music throughout the film. DJed with the deadpan frog-throat delivery of Steven Knight, each AM Gold track sends us back in time and often challenges or contradicts what we see onscreen (look/hear no further than "Stuck in the Middle with You" during the film's infamous torture scene). With "Hooked on a Feeling" we have a song that begins as a piece of omnipresent soundtrack and then (when we magically switch to the interior of the Dogs' car) it reverts to low-volume background noise on the radio. It's a simple switch but shows Tarantino's early mastery of letting the film get carried away with the music (romanticism) and then reeling us back into the moment at hand (realism).

There are plenty more Movie Music Moments to dissect from Reservoir Dogs and Guardians of the Galaxy alike. Share any of your own or your thoughts on this use of "Hooked on a Feeling" in the comments below. (Did you know that this track was also used in the movie Dick?) 

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