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Now that you’ve had a almost a week to recover from HBO Girls’ series finale, we’re ready to talk more about one of the greatest aspects of the groundbreaking show: the music. The music in Girls punctuated plot points, reflected character development and made the series a time capsule of what being a young millennial struggling to make it the real world really felt like. Along with the controversial scenes, excessive nudity and honest writing, Girls will be remembered as a show with a killer soundtrack. Take a look back at the best music moments—and some of the most pivotal scenes of the series.
Three episodes into season one, audiences fell in love with Girls and Hannah Horvath after she shared her now iconic tweet after finding out she had HPV: “All adventurous women do.” The tweet became a symbol of Hannah’s no-fucks-given attitude. Celebrating this newfound freedom, she has a one-woman dance party to this infectious Robyn track, and is shortly joined by her (still) BFF Marnie.
After a tumultuous break up with her new husband Thomas-John, Jessa ends up at Hannah’s apartment, walking in unnoticed as Hannah sings in the tub. Before there were all the messy complications of stolen boyfriends and pregnancies, Hannah and Jessa were just two girls—two best friends—in a tub. Anyway, here’s “Wonderwall.”
In easily the most cringe-inducing moment of the series (or in all of television?), Marnie’s descent into complete delusion and lack of self-awareness begins with a cover of Kanye’s “Stronger.”
The “I Don’t Care” scene stands as the best party scene in the series. At a club after Hannah and Elijah have just done cocaine, the two jam out to Icona Pop’s 2013 anthem “I Love It.” Coupled with one of the most iconic outfits of the season (who could forget Dunham’s exposed nips in that yellow mesh top?), the scene of Hannah and Elijah mouthing the lyrics “you’re from the ‘70s but I’m a ‘90s bitch” is burned into our memories.
As one of the very few episodes where the four girls are all together, “Beach House” remains one of the most important episodes of the entire series. As a show that started (and is named for) a group of female friends, “Beach House” exemplifies the beginning of the end. Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna’s friendship is unraveling. With everyone at each other’s throats, Shosh gets drunk mean and honest (a side of her we revisit again in season 6) denouncing their entire friendship. Either way, we’ll always have the delightful choreography that went along with Harry Nilsson’s “You’re Breaking My Heart.”
Shosh’s stint in Japan is book-ended with two amazing music moments—Japanese pop group FLiP’s “Girl” (which plays the first time we see Shoshanna in Tokyo) and Aurora’s haunting cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars,” at the end of episode “Queen For Two Days.” Airing only a few months after Bowie passed away, Dunham said the song, “feels like a perfect tribute to him to show the way his songs can transcend gender, time, place and be emotionally resonant.” After Shoshanna, feeling truly like an alien in her new home, breaks down and declares that she wants to leave, she’s shown walking down and empty alley illuminated by neon lights. “Life On Mars” plays and the end credits roll over the poignant scene. (Be sure to check out our Good Vibes Only segment with Aurora, too.)
“The Panic In Central Park” played out more like an indie romance than just a simple television episode. And like any good romance movie, there had to be a cute montage of our star-crossed lovers gallivanting around town. The capsule episode brings back Marnie’s ex-boyfriend Charlie—but a different version of him: a hardened, bearded version who’s gained weight and talks with a new accent. The two have their moment, eating, drinking, dancing and making plans to run away together. But soon enough, the montage stops, the track ends, and the fantasy bubble bursts.
While audiences might have expected the reveal of Adam and Jessa as couple to be an explosive shouting match, what actually happened was probably the complete opposite of that. During Adam’s play about the Kitty Genovese murder, Hannah sees Adam and Jessa share and intimate and loving glance from across apartment buildings. The camera swings from Jessa to Adam to Hannah, and she pieces the truth together while Brenda Lee croons over the horrific sounds from the play.
As one of the most talked-about episodes in the final season, “American Bitch” naturally had to have an epic music moment. Addressing themes of power abuse and sexual harassment, Hannah ventures into famed author Chuck Palmer’s elegant home after she had written a scathing blog criticizing him for being a predatory creep. Eventually, Hannah herself falls victim to his slimy ways and the episode closes out with Palmer’s daughter playing a flute version of Rihanna’s “Desperado.” The track fits perfectly with lyrics telling the story of a woman conflicted about a man, a criminal, on the run. As Hannah leaves the apartment, a bunch of faceless women blur into the background, all swarming into Palmer’s building.
Andrew Rannells is no stranger to Broadway, so it made sense that the theatre-obsessed Elijah would get his own narrative all about auditioning for a play. After seasons of Elijah being the messy, lazy and unaccomplished friend of the group (a sentiment underscored when Dill Harcourt broke Elijah’s heart back in season 5), in his episode “The Bounce,” he proves that he’s actually really talented. If you don’t believe us, just watch the clip below.