One reason that Gilmore Girls is such a brilliant show is its expert usage of music throughout the show's seasons. The show's music is almost like another character in that it drives the plot and interacts with the mood of a scene. The soundtrack is brilliant enough that articles have been written on the complex significance of music in the show. Here, I list my favorites from the show's seven seasons. (Go here for a full playlist.)
“There She Goes” by The La’s
Season: 1, Episode: 1
This song plays in the very first scene of the very first episode of the show, and what a song to open with! From The La's only album, "There She Goes," with its sound of sweet beginning, is the perfect musical initiation into this charming show.
“Where the Colors Don’t Go” by Sam Phillips
Season: 1, Episode: 1
This is the first of many songs throughout the show by Sam Phillips. Phillips is the expert composer of the Gilmore Girls soundtrack (she wrote the background "la la"s that are peppered heavily throughout each episode), and many of her full-length songs are featured in the show. "Where the Colors Don't Go" plays as Lorelai Gilmore decides to go to her parents for money and the Gilmore residence is shown on-camera for the first time.
“Time Bomb” by Rancid
Season: 1, Episode: 5
The honorary Gilmore girl, Lane Kim dances to this song in a manner that Lorelai so tastefully describes as "skanking to Rancid." This song brings to light the fact that not only is the soundtrack music of Gilmore Girls stellar, but the characters in the show also have an excellent taste in music and constantly listen to and reference that great music.
“Oh My Love” by John Lennon
Season: 1, Episode: 16
Here, the soundtrack expertly interacts with the plot of the show. "Oh My Love" is used in this episode to foreshadow the impending breakup of Rory Gilmore and her first boyfriend, Dean. The couple has had an excellent night, and then this bittersweet tune begins, and the viewer can tell that something is about to go wrong.
“Where It’s At” by Beck
Season: 1, Episode: 17
Refusing to give into self-pity, Rory attends a party just after the breakup with Dean. Whoever was DJing that party had an excellent taste in music. My personal favorite of the songs from the party scenes was Beck's "Where It's At."
“My Little Corner of The World” by Yo La Tengo
Season: 1, Episode: 21
This song plays in the final scene of the first season. Rory has just reunited with Dean and Lorelai has just been proposed to. The women run towards each other bursting with good news while this song plays in the background. The simple sweetness of "My Little Corner of The World" matches the kooky, lovable world that is Star's Hollow (the fictional town where the show is set) and the light, carefree mood of this finale.
“This is Hell” by Elvis Costello
Season: 2, Episode: 5
This song plays humorously in the background as a Stars Hollow newcomer, the grumpy, urban Jess Mariano, observes his new suburban home in horror.
“Monkey Gone To Heaven” by Pixies
Season: 2, Episode: 21
In the scene with this song, Rory has uncharacteristically skipped school and run off to New York City to visit Jess, and he takes her to an obscure music store. The fact that the weirdly wonderful Pixies are playing in the background makes this an even more delightful scene.
“Then She Appeared” by XTC
Season: 3, Episode: 8
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In this scene, Rory and Jess share their first kiss as couple. Before this episode, the show built up the sexual tension between the two, and "Then She Appeared" is the perfect song to play at the moment that tension is melted.
“The Man Who Sold The World” by David Bowie
Season: 3, Episode: 9
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"The Man Who Sold The World" plays during another couple's (Lane and her first boyfriend, Dave) first kiss. Although I personally prefer the Nirvana MTV unplugged cover version, this song is always a winner.
“Fell In Love With A Girl” by The White Stripes
Season: 3, Episode: 19
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While this episode was fairly sad overall for Rory and Jess, it saw Lane's band play their first gig, and one song they play is "Fell In Love With A Girl." This blues revival piece is classic early '00s gold.
“The Weakest Shade of Blue” by The Pernice Brothers
Season: 4, Episode: 4
Rory listens to this one while she sits in the Stars Hollow town square reading. Certainly an idyllic way to spend one's Saturday afternoon.
“Rusholme Ruffians” by The Smiths
Season: 4, Episode: 5
Rory bonds with someone in her college dorm's laundry room because he has Smiths stickers on his laundry basket, so, naturally, the scene is played out by "Rusholme Ruffians" from The Smiths' classic album Meat is Murder.
“So Says I” by The Shins
Season: 4, Episode: 17
Known lovingly by Gilmore fans the world round, this is the scene where Paris Gellar kisses Rory in the hopes of getting the full extent of spring break experimentation while the girls attend a casual Shins concert at a club in Florida.
“Reflecting Light” by Sam Phillips
Season: 4, Episode: 21
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Another Sam Phillips gem, "Reflecting Light" plays while another highly anticipated couple, Lorelai and Luke, dance together at a wedding. A sweet moment made even sweeter with this delightful tune.
“If I Could Write” by Sam Phillips
Season: 5, Episode: 1
This Sam Phillips song is more bittersweet as it sees Rory pack for a trip to Europe with her grandmother after fighting with her mother.
“Heart of Glass” by Blondie
Season: 6, Episode: 19
This song plays during Lane and Zach's wedding party. While I find Lane and Zach's relationship problematic, their wedding soundtrack is anything but.
“What a Waste” by Sonic Youth
Season: 6, Episode: 22
What's better than having Sonic Youth on a TV show sound track? Having a cameo appearance by Sonic Youth to play their music! This song was preformed on Gilmore Girls by two members of the band (Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore) and their daughter.
“How To Dream” by Sam Phillips
Season: all, Episode: all
At least some of the "la la"s from every episode of the show were directly lifted from "How To Dream." This theme provides a perfectly daydreamy, optimistic backdrop to the show.
“Where You Lead” by Carol King
Season: all, Episode: all
This would not be a proper Gilmore Girls soundtrack list without mentioning the opening theme, Carol King's "Where You Lead." This song was written to describe a romantic relationship, but it takes on Rory and Lorelai's mother-daugher relationship with aplomb, and Gilmore Girls would arguably not be Gilmore Girls without it.