Lately it seems like you can’t go anywhere without hearing about the HBO show Girls. Even though the first season’s finale aired weeks ago, buzz is all over blogs, talk shows, and virtually every other news-inspired medium. Even James Franco has publicly weighed in on it.
Now, I’ve seen the show. And I’m not going to deliver some radical review here. I, like everyone else, think it’s awesome. What you’ve heard about it is actually true: Lena Dunham has crafted a television series that so accurately portrays a generation in a way that no other show has. The girls of Girls are stripped of the usual glamour that follows fictional characters — as in, things aren’t always okay in the end.
Another facet that drew me in was the effective use of music.
Girls wouldn’t be such a hit if every element wasn’t true-to-life to its target audience. If the trendy twentysomethings of America can’t confirm its validity, it will be written off into worthless oblivion. Fortunately, everything about the show hits the nail on the head — including the music.
I’m so much more inclined to enjoy the soundtrack to a movie or TV show when it’s so perfectly matched that I forget it’s even there. If a song catches me off guard and takes me out of the situation that’s happening onscreen, I’m not interested. Girls truly exemplifies that feeling. More than once, I didn’t realize I recognized the song playing until the moment had passed and I found myself scrambling to look it up online.
Another sign that propels the show’s music choices to success is the time sensitivity. Music has that incredible ability to whiskus back to previous times in life. How many times do you hear the first three seconds of a song and immediately think, “God, this is all I listened to my freshman year of college!” or “My dad used to sing this all the time when I was little!” I have time-sensitive memories tied to nearly everything I listen to. Girls values that nuance perfectly.
In a flashback to 2004, one of the main characters, Marnie, meets what is to be her long-term boyfriend. They’re at a loud party, but still you can hear Heartbeat by The Knife rising up through the din of college students. That song released in 2003 and enjoyed some success, re-releasing in 2004, so it’s totally plausible that it would be cascading through the walls of a packed college party.
In another episode, the main character, Hannah, visits her parents in the small town where she grew up. She is running errands and takes a moment in a parking lot to jam out to one of her old favorites (we’ve all been there.) And it’s Hands by Jewel. THAT SONG. Considering Hannah’s age and the fact that she’s back home, the accuracy of her reminiscing to that song is just beyond perfect.
I could go on and on about moments like these: Hannah and Marnie dancing in their apartment to Dancing on My Own by Robyn represents the current-day time period so perfectly, because Robyn is everywhere lately. Or when the four lead girls are all at an overwhelming warehouse party and The Champ by Ghostface Killah is bumping in the background. I just keep feeling overwhelmed with that feeling of, “Yes. Of course that song is playing now. Yes.”
I think I’ve overstayed my welcome on this topic. But there’s so much more to it. Allow me to direct you to a killer playlist of music that appeared on the show’s first season, featuring the likes of Azealia Banks, Camera Obscura, Girls (of course), Fleet Foxes, Sleigh Bells, Jay-Z, Generationals… the list goes on. You can also check out the music by episode, straight from HBO. Start here with the first episode of music. Just… let it happen.