‘Girls’ Music Recap: Hannah Turns 25 with Help from Lou Reed, LMFAO, Lizzo & ‘Rent’
By Shannon Carlin
Whether or not you believe Lena Dunham is the voice of her generation, after three seasons, her HBO show ‘Girls‘ has proved it’s the go-to series for fans looking to discover new and old music alike. Every week throughout season three, Radio.com will speak with the show’s Music Supervisor Manish Raval to get the scoop on the music—expect more exclusives this time around—that helps make ‘Girls’ what it is.
On the latest episode of Girls it was Hannah’s 25th birthday party, but, surprisingly, the night did not end with any tears à la Lesley Gore, just a drunken fist fight and a somewhat well-intentioned Rent sing-along.
Let’s begin with that fist fight, shall we, which was started by Ray after the bar’s DJ cut his request of Smashing Pumpkins “Today” a little short. Unfortunately, it was to play LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It.” A party foul if there ever was one.
After berating the female DJ for breach of contract—in his opinion a DJ can not stop one request in the middle to play another request—Ray decides to speak directly with the one who made the dated request, which just so happens to be Hannah’s editor, David Pressler-Goings, or as Ray refers to him “a poor man’s Anderson Cooper.” The two don’t see eye to eye on song request etiquette, which leads to punches being thrown and a drunken Ray lying bloodied on the floor.
Yes, Ray got punched out by a 40-something e-book editor who thinks LMFAO is the perfect song to entice the guys on Grindr. But before we judge David’s taste, let’s remember that he—wearing a ripped-up Keith Haring t-shirt, none the less—walks into the bar to Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll,” a song written by the late Lou Reed and featured on the band’s 1970 album, Loaded.
“When we began editing this episode, it took us a second to realize that we had never used a Velvet Underground song in the show yet,” Manish Raval wrote in an email to Radio.com. “They are the perfect sound and band for this show in so many ways. We had this song in and cleared before Reed passed away, which made it all more important for us to keep it in.”
Hannah’s birthday party gave Raval a chance to have a little fun and highlight a few new artists including Minneapolis rapper Lizzo with her track, “Paris,” off her debut, LIZZOBANGERS, which plays when the four girls—Hannah, Marnie, Jess and Shoshanna—first see each other in the bar.
“Lizzo is an artist we came across and instantly felt should be a part of the show,” Raval explained. “She’s a new artist with a fresh new sound and we like to showcase up and coming talents, like we had in the past with Angel Haze, Story Of The Year and Azealia Banks.”
Adam and Hannah share a kiss after he gives her his baby tooth as a birthday present. (Jessica Miglio/HBO)
Raval also gave us a little closer look at Adam’s musical taste. After making it perfectly clear in last week’s episode that Adam is not a fan of Maroon 5, it seems he doesn’t mind getting his groove on to New Order “Age of Consent.” The song sets the scene for Adam and Hannah’s first birthday dance and Shoshanna and Ray’s first encounter since breaking up.
Originally they had planned to score the moment with Kings of Convenience’s “I’d Rather Dance With You,” the song Hannah’s parents are jump, jivin’ and wailing to, but felt they needed a “change of energy in the scene.”
“Jon [Leahy, Girls Music Coordinator] brought this song up and it fit so well, not just to them dancing, but also scores the emotional beat of Ray watching Shoshana through the window,” he wrote. “The song really made it a cool ‘moment.’”
Raval added, “Yes, I think Adam is a New Order fan.”
This episode also puts forward the idea that the age of revenge porn could finally be over, but will now be replaced by an exciting new way to get back at an ex: posting embarrassing videos of them singing on YouTube. This is what happens to Marnie, who doesn’t know her ex-boyfriend Charlie’s password and can’t take down a clip of her singing a tone deaf cover of Edie Brickell’s 1988 hit “What I Am.”
Later Marnie reminisces about the Rent sing-along she performed with Hannah at the birthday girl’s 21st birthday, only to have Hannah tell her the that’s the last thing she’d want to do. So naturally, later in the night Marnie calls Hannah up to the stage later to sing “Take Me or Leave Me” from the Broadway show. It’s a chance for Marnie to relive her younger days and maybe a way to stick it to Hannah, who seemingly has her life together and doesn’t quite have the vocal chops of her friend. Lucky for Hannah though, Ray gets punched, putting an end to her awkward duet.
But the birthday celebration doesn’t go perfectly for Hannah since Adam’s manic sister, Caroline ends any chance of making it a memorable night when she shows up bottomless in their bathroom. Raval says it’s the song featured in the end credits—”It’s My Birthday (Remix)” by Zero DeZire—that sums up Hannah’s original intentions for the night.
“The original end credit song for this episode was the Big Boi song ‘She Said OK,’ which inspired the name of the episode. But we decided to replace it with a different hip-hop song,” Raval said. “We knew it had to be fun and sexy, so we pitched an additional 15 hip-hops songs to everyone. But then, out of nowhere, I get this song ["It's My Birthday (Remix)"] and hear the lyrics about “It’s My Birthday” and “I wanna get f***ed like it’s the first time” and immediately sent it to Lena. Within five minutes of sending it to her, this became the new end title. I believe there’s a saying about this: right place, right time.”