Lena Dunham and Allison Williams in Girls, Episode 3
The first season of HBO’s Girls, which concluded with a surprise wedding last Sunday, alternately charmed and alienated, shocked and stupefied. Whatever it was (or wasn’t), though, the show consistently featured great music—and one indelible pajama-clad sing-along to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” “Lena Dunham has great taste,” said Manish Raval, the show’s music supervisor, of the series’ creator and star, “so we tailor the music to what she and her character Hannah Horvath would like”—in other words, to what a twentysomething Brooklynite with a literary bent and an often troubling sex life might be into. The song that plays over the end credits of each episode is a particularly coveted slot—it’s become a launching pad for relatively unknown bands like The Echo-Friendly much as The O.C. became a platform for a certain type of emotive indie rock a handful of years ago. Here are our top four end-credits songs, in no particular order, from season one, along with Raval’s liner notes.
1. “Love Is Won,” Lia Ices (Episode 9, “Leave Me Alone”)
The beginning of the end for Marnie and Hannah—that hideous “who is the wound?” fight—called for a chilling, poignant ballad. “The minimal, haunting vibe seemed perfect for the quietness left after the girls slam their doors on each other,” Raval says.
2. “Same Mistakes,” The Echo-Friendly (Episode 4, “Hannah’s Diary”)
A lot happened this in episode, but mostly Charlie read Hannah’s unflattering diary entries about him and Marnie and then turned it into a song. “Usually you dread it when your director sends you a song ‘by a friend of theirs,’” Raval says, “but when Lena sent us this we flipped out. She has talented friends.”
3. “Overdrawn,” White Sea (Episode 2, “Vagina Panic”)
The Abortion Episode comes and goes with little fuss and a couple of midday White Russians to boot. Also, Hannah says horrible things out loud while getting an STD test. “In the early stages of editing, we had a more solemn, sad song to end the episode,” Raval says, “but we decided that the way to go was to play something upbeat and fun, to counter this incredibly awkward shot of Hannah.”
4. “White Nights,” Oh Land (Episode 7, “Welcome to Bushwick”)
At the very end, Hannah, Marnie and Adam are crammed in a cab. Adam had just bellowed the world’s most unromantic proposal—“Do you want me to be your fucking boyfriend or not?”—and in the backseat, Hannah very, very, very slowly, smiles. “The great vocal intro to this song was what we imagined was in Hannah’s head at that moment,” Raval says.
BONUS ENTRY: “Dancing On My Own,” Robyn Technically not an end-credit song—though the scene this music accompanied was the height of Hannah and Marnie’s friendship. “One hundred percent Lena’s idea,” says Raval.
Photo: Jojo Whilden / HBO