Girls prompts more think pieces with each episode than any other show on television — it also elicits as many iTunes downloads and Spotify streams for its music. As the powerful fifth season comes to an end, the songs in each episode have gotten as much attention as Lena Dunham’s various body parts: In March, Girls occupied five of the top ten slots of TV songs that were searched most often on Shazam.
Vulture spoke to music supervisor Manish Raval, who has been with Girls since the very start, to get his favorite musical moments from the series, including one from tonight’s finale.
Frankie Valli, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” (Season 5, Episode 10)
“[This song] stemmed from Lena and Jenni Konner, who directed [the episode]. They had the idea to end with this song very early on in the process. It was one of these things where it was something we’ve never done in the show, a very old classic song that everyone knows, and we use it in a big monumental way. It seems like an un-Girls thing to do, and that’s why we liked [it]. We took a few stabs at trying to replace it with some other stuff that might have been more in the Girls wheelhouse, and they all failed. It was one of those moments when we had to say, this is it and it can’t be any other song. It was a conscious decision to not end every episode with a new artist or an artist giving you an exclusive song or something we’re breaking on Girls. We didn’t feel like we needed to do that — [we] just purely serve the story.”
Robyn “Dancing on My Own” (Season 1, Episode 3)
“I don’t know what’s in store for season six, but that will go down as the definitive musical moment of Girls. Seeing that for the first time in the editing room was like Oh shit, this will be like nothing else I’ve seen or worked on before. I had the same reaction the fans had when they saw for the first time. Lena wanted that song. She wanted to end the episode with Hannah and Marnie dancing to [it]. It was one of the first things she knew ahead of time, and for me I just wanted to make sure I got it for her.”
Brenda Lee “Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You)” (Season 5, Episode 7)
[The scene where Hannah spots Jessa looking at Adam from the fire escape.] “It was one of the songs that came together last season. It was on the short list for an episode we wanted to end with a country song. We used Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You” for episode four of season four. This song was a remnant of that conversation. We knew that we had songs that were recorded around 1962, when the play Adam is in is set. We thought it was a great use, and we’ve been getting a ton of emails about it."
Vicktor Taiwò, “Curse” (Season 5, Episode 7)
[The scene where Hannah and Fran leave the play and see Jessa and Adam walking away together.] “It was a musical spot that was open and up for discussion up until the last second. We hadn’t come to a conclusion what emotion we wanted to end with. We made the passionate plea for this song to the producers. We felt [it] was one of the strongest-acted scenes in the series. So much happened without any words being said and we really had to be in that headspace as to what they were feeling and thinking. The song had to carry that emotionally with the music and lyrics. If it didn’t do that, we [feared] we were going to do the ending a disservice. The gratifying thing afterwards was the artist himself [tweeted], ‘holy shit I’m #3 on iTunes,’ or something. To see a moment of him flipping out because he got showcased in a great way, for us that just made it all worth it.”
Lia Ices, “Little Marriage” (Season 5, Episode 6)
[The scene in the lake in the "Marnie" episode.] This is where she and Charlie are in the park and they fall into the water and she has this internal moment. It was a very ethereal song with female vocals, and it takes you into that moment of them on the train coming home.”
Lia Ices, “Love Is Won” (Season 1, Episode 9)
“She is one of the first artists we’ve come back to, because she’s not like anyone else. This plays over the end credits in the first season after Marnie and Hannah have a big fight."
Icona Pop, “I Love It” (Season 2, Episode 3)
“So much attention was brought to the song because of the scene we used it in. We weren’t trying to make a song into a hit, it was just a rough demo of a song that we happened to get from someone. It was amazing to see something from that stage become a huge hit song, and that is attributed to Lena Dunham dancing in a yellow mesh top on a coke binge.”
Børns, “Past Lives” (Season 5, Episode 3)
“I personally had such an affection for the song when I first heard it. It opens with this mellower intro and then has a beat that switches the emotion immediately and turns off that first emotion and turns into a second emotion. For me, as a supervisor, that is something that can be used in a great way. We found the perfect spot for it because it was when Shoshanna is in Japan and you don’t know what she is thinking, and she’s on her ledge. We realized that was the perfect time — after leaving that we kick back to America and cut to credits. That song did it perfectly for that moment.”
Fleet Foxes “Montezuma” (Season 1, Episode 6)
“In the first season we ended the episode where Hannah goes back home with a Fleet Foxes song that I love. The lyrics speak exactly to the moment Hannah’s character is going through with her parents. It couldn’t have been more literal to the moment and that experience.”