Album Review: “Girls Soundtrack Volume 1: Music From The HBO Original Series” (2013)

I absolutely love it when my favourite movie or TV show has a fantastic soundtrack. Because I’m a “music person”, I admittedly spend a lot of time during TV shows or movies trying to figure out what song is playing in the background. Much of my music collection consists of soundtracks, and it’s even better when said soundtrack is filled with great songs.

The HBO series, Girls, is one of my favourite shows, and though I love it for all the characters and story lines, I also really enjoy a lot of the music that’s been played on the show. With two seasons under their belt, the people behind Girls released Girls Soundtrack Volume 1: Music From The HBO Original Series, a compilation CD of songs played in the show thus far. The result is a pretty eclectic mix of rock, indie, pop, rap and techno music, that played throughout the show.

The album kicks off with one of the show’s most memorable music moments, thanks to Swedish pop singer, Robyn and her song, Dancing On My Own. The energetic number served as dancing music for main characters, Hannah and Marnie in Season One (after Hannah found out that her ex-boyfriend, Elijah, was gay), and every time I hear this song I can’t help but want to get up and dance around my room. The song is great even without the fantastic scene accompanying it; the techno-pop beat is infectious, as is the catchy chorus (“I’m in the corner/Watching you kiss her/I’m right over here/Why can’t you see me?/I’m giving it my all/But I’m not the girl you’re taking home/I keep dancing on my own…”) and Robyn’s girlish- yet likable- voice. I haven’t listened to much of her music (despite being recommended to by several friends), but if this song is any indication of what the rest of her music is like, I’ll be adding her to my list of artists to check out.

One of the other big musical moments came at the hands of Icona Pop’s dizzying number, I Love It. Season Two contained an episode wherein Hannah and her aforementioned gay ex-boyfriend/bff/new roommate, Elijah, snorted coke, went clubbing and danced to this song. The loud, synth-infused track is the perfect club banger, and though I heard the song before seeing it in Girls, I can’t help but picture Elijah and Hannah screaming the lyrics into each other’s faces whenever I hear this song.

It makes sense that pop band Fun. has a song included on the album, as Lena Dunham (Hannah) is dating the lead guitarist of the band. Possible nepotism aside, Sight of the Sun is a breezy pop number that I don’t actually remember hearing on the show, but is nice, all the same. Electro-rapper, Santigold, wrote a song specifically for the show, simplistically titled Girls. The bouncy rap song is decent, though the repetitive chorus of “girls!” isn’t terribly inspiring. Fleet Foxes’ song, Montezuma, is one of my favourites from their second album and I was pleased to hear it on Girls. The earthy, organic sound the band is known for is present in this song, from the banjos, down to the delicate harmonies from the band members. The mellow number is a nice change of pace on the soundtrack as well, particularly after so many dance songs.

There are also quite a few selections from lesser known bands, which I always enjoy on a soundtrack. Mellow indie rock song, Everyone’s Gonna Get High stuck out to me in the scene it played in (Season Two: the same cocaine episode, but this song played when Hannah made out with her creepy, albeit endearing, downstairs neighbor, Laird), so I was glad to see Grouplove’s song appear on the album. Danish singer-songwriter, Oh Land, offers up her pop song White Nights. The peppy song is refreshing and fun, and Oh Land has one of those distinctive voices that you’ll either love or hate; I love it. New York-based rock band, The Echo Friendly’s song, The Same Mistake is another I loved; the old-school rock sound and the deep bass of the male vocalist instantly impressed me. Meanwhile, Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) is a selection from British band, The Vaccines. I knew about The Vaccines before Girls, but it’s still nice to see one of their songs on the soundtrack and the loud, punk/rock song was a perfect inclusion on the show and album.

The album ends with a song from the show’s principal composer, Michael Penn. The piece isn’t instrumental, however; Penn (whom had success as a solo artist in the late 80’s/early 80’s) sings and plays piano on this track. Penn’s vocals and the music is very reminiscent of Ben Folds, but that’s a good thing. This song was used at the end of Season One of Girls, so it’s befitting that it ends the soundtrack, as well.

Of course, because I’m such a music nerd, prior to buying this album, I’d already downloaded half of these songs and quite a few others. If I’m being picky, I can think of a handful of other songs that should’ve been on the album (We’re missing Scissor Sisters’s song, Take Your Mama, it would’ve been nice to hear an album version of Michael Penn’s instrumental from Season Two, Daisy, and it would’ve been hilarious to include Jessa’s wedding music, Yankin’ by Lady), but if you’re not an obsessive fan like I am, this is a pretty superb selection of music.

Girls Soundtrack Volume 1: Music From The HBO Original Series is a fun soundtrack with plenty of great songs to remind you of all the equally great moments from the show.  A must have for a fan of the show, or anyone who wants to hear some excellent music.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track List
1. Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”
2. Fun. – “Sight Of The Sun”
3. Harper Simon – “Wishes And Stars”
4. Santigold – “Girls”
5. White Sea – “Overdrawn”
6. Grouplove – “Everyone’s Gonna Get High”
7. Icona Pop – “I Love It”
8. The Echo-Friendly – “Same Mistakes”
9. Belle & Sebastian – “I Don’t Love Anyone”
10. Fleet Foxes – “Montezuma”
11. Oh Land – “White Nights”
12. The Vaccines – “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)”
13. Lia Ices – “Love Is Won”
14. Michael Penn – “On Your Way”

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