The first episode of Girls aired on April 15, 2012, exactly five years ago. Six seasons in five years is more aggressive than the usual one-season-per-year pace of most shows. You could say Girls was growing up fast.
The series has featured more than 389 songs (per Tunefinder), not including the music of the finale tomorrow. Music writers routinely covered episodes, reveling in the impact the show’s music had on the depth of the storyline.
Covers of male songs performed by women were sprinkled across the episodes, in many cases spotlighting younger and less famous females. HBO could certainly afford the rights to the original recordings, so using these covers became a deliberate choice, not a plan B.
Much like the title of the show, which refers to the female characters as “girls” vs “women,” the choice to showcase lesser-known, perhaps less-experienced artists mirrored the essence of the show and its creators. Lena Dunham revealed on the Spotify podcast Showstopper that she deliberately aimed to stay away from “network tv moments” soundtracked from some immediately familiar hit song. She said having the characters walk down the street to a Heather Nova tune was tempting, but that wasn’t her approach – presumably to guard the originality of her show.
Here is a select collection of Girls-inspired tracks by female artists. A few of these covers were featured prominently in the show. If you’re binging on old episodes before the finale, listen for Waxahatchee’s cover of the Jessica Simpson song “With You”, Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ covered by Skeye, and David Bowie’s Life on Mars by the sweet voice of Aurora.
The rest of the songs on the playlist below are originals and or covers of songs by artists who had other songs featured in the show.