HBO's Girls: A Study In How We Music On TV
  • THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2012

  • Posted by: Zoe Marquedant

At one point or another, most people have paused their TV or minimized their Hulu screen to Google a song they just heard. We've all pulled out our phones or laptops and asked the question, "what was that song that was just playing?" And the answer isn't always easy to come by. Everyone has seen the YouTube comments that say "Grey's sent me here. Love this song" and "Like if you heard this on Chuck". Now entire websites and sections of network pages are devoted to the music featured on different TV shows. Soundtracks and albums are complied, the same way they are for movies. Granted, some are done better than others. One show that has been hitting some of the right notes, so to speak, is Girls.

HBO's Girls has been praised an un-glorified look at life in New York. It's Sex and the City without the pricey shoes and swanky apartments. The show follows a group of twenty-something year old girls, discussing very frankly all the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll life in the Big Apple involves. Girls is the brainchild of Lena Dunham who wrote, starred and worked as a producer for the series, a feat that on its own deserves a standing ovation. Another notable feature about the show is its music.

The first thing the show did right, in my opinion, doesn't involve music selection itself, but rather the accessibility of the show's track listing. The fact that all the music on Girls is included on the HBO website alongside the synopsis and episode clips is brilliant. This makes finding the music that much easier for listeners to find. It's easy to look up who guest stars in an episode, but figuring out which bands were featured can be like pulling teeth. Hence the all the forum posts asking "whats the song playing when that one character does that thing" type questions. The Girls site is proof that we're learning.

After watching an episode, I was curious what song was playing over the credits. I punched something along the lines of "Girls episode 2 season 1 credits song" into Google and hoped for the best. I was ready to launch a full scale Boolean search, but to my surprise I got a link to the episode page and a comprehensive list of all songs in the series. I had my answer: "Overdrawn" by White Sea. What? What was this madness? No replaying the song, desperately trying to pick out the lyrics and praying to the search engine gods that somewhere in the depth of the internet the track names were posted? I was impressed. This is a revolutionary step for TV.

On the song selection, Girls makes more sound decisions. The first few episodes included "I Can Change" by LCD Soundsystem, "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)" by The Vaccines, "Infinity Guitars" by Sleigh Bells, "I Don't Love Anyone" by Belle and Sebastian and "Heartbeats" by The Knife. I was happy to hear something besides the newest Pitbull track made it into the popular series. As great as these songs are they still did their job. They complemented the script and clued us in as to how we should feel during a particular scene. You know, sad songs played during the break-up episode and older ones during the flashbacks.

Note the happy music towards the end- meaning we're supposed to be happy for them:



The Girls soundtrack manages to stay relevant while not just repeating the weeks Top 40s chart. The soundtracks finds space to include older songs from bands like LCD Soundsystem as well as more popular artists like Robyn and Ke$ha. Len's "Steal My Sunshine" is featured in the same episode as "Skyscrapper" by Demi Lovato. It isn't the most comprehensive soundtrack ever -- the show is something of an dark indie comedy, so fittingly the majority of the songs are of the indie persuasion. Obviously we don't mind. It's a nice mixture and overall a good body of music. I can't speak for next season, but fingers crossed that it doesn't just include Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend."



Check out these musical clips from Girls:



Guess what the number one rated comment was? "Does anyone know the music in this trailer???" Answer: "All Of This" by The Naked & Famous.

Featuring La Roux's "I'm Not Your Toy (Data Remix)"



Featuring Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze"

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