‘Gilmore Girls’: 10 Times Music Helped Make the Show So Epic

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(Credit: The WB)
Credit: The WB

Where the Gilmore Girls lead, we will follow! It’s been nine long years since super mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore drank all the coffee in Stars Hollow, gorged on junk food and Chinese takeout, fell in and out of love, and dropped every pop culture reference imaginable in their rapid-fire banter. Now the Gilmores are back to drink even more coffee, talk even faster, and charm us more than ever in Netflix’s continuation of the series, which premieres Nov. 25.

In four 90-minute episodes, titled “Winter,” “Spring,” “Summer,” and “Fall,” Lorelai (Lauren Graham), Rory (Alexis Bledel), and grandmother Emily (Kelly Bishop) all face big changes in their lives. To get ready for the revival, we’re highlighting all the things we love about the show with our official Return to Stars Hollow coverage, from the wacky supporting characters to the insanely clever dialogue to the girls’ complicated love lives. Check back here every day until Nov. 25 to obsess with us over all things Gilmore.

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Though just one official Gilmore Girls soundtrack — Our Little Corner of the World: Music From Gilmore Girls — was released during the series’ original 2000-07 run, GG fans will likely attest that music played a huge role in the show (and, we’re also guessing, that the show’s music has a huge presence in many a Gilmore fans’ playlists).

“For me it felt like [music] was an extension of their thoughts,” Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino told Outsmart magazine. “And if they had music going in their head during a certain emotional thing in their life, if they were real people, this would be the music that was going on. And I think that is what elevated the show. Because it wasn’t a wasted element in the show. Everything was trying to say a little something, add a little something to it.”

Exactly.

From Carole King’s theme song and Sam Phillips’s iconic “la la las” to the characters’ musical obsessions and episodic moments that were perfectly paired with great tunes, here are 10 instances where music made this great series even greater.

Introducing … the Girls

Fittingly, the series launches with a tune: The La’s “There She Goes,” which plays as Lorelai strolls through Stars Hollow, making her way to Luke’s Diner for her first cup of coffee of the day. OK, actually, it’s her sixth cup of the day, which makes this infectious, peppy number (never mind those rumors that the song was written as an ode to heroin) the perfect soundtrack to a highly caffeinated morning jaunt with one of the charming titular Gilmores.

Gilmore Girls: A Morning in the Life

Season 1’s “Double Date” opens with a scene of Lorelai and Rory’s morning routine, Rory in her Chilton uniform, Lorelai in full working mama gear. Their last stop before heading out the door: the coffee pot and the toaster, which rewards them with two cups of java and — what else — frosted Pop-Tarts, heated and wrapped in paper towels. And backing this most Gilmore-ian of beginnings: XTC’s “Earn Enough for Us,” one of many tunes by the British rock band — a favorite of Rory and her BFF Lane — that was used in the series.

The First Dance

In Season 4’s “Last Week Fights, This Week Tights,” a much-awaited moment of Luke and Lorelai romance comes via their first slow dance, which happens at his sister Liz’s Renaissance-themed wedding. He’s in a suit, she’s in a pretty dress with a flower crown, and they’re both giddy as they dance to Sam Phillips’s beautiful “Reflecting Light.” (Dare you not to cry.)

Karaoke Love

By the end of Season 7, the show’s last, it was not looking so good for Lorelai and Luke. They’d broken up, she’d married someone else … April existed. But when Lorelai belted out — pretty badly — a karaoke version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” that made it clear she was still very much warm for Luke’s form, we were pretty sure the series would end on a happy, if not wedding-based, note, especially since Luke witnessed some of the performance. We were not wrong. (P.S. Not crying … double dare on this one.)

The Perfect Mother-Daughter Song

Carole King and her daughter Louise Goffin recorded a version of King’s “Where You Lead” — from her iconic Tapestry album — to serve as the Gilmore Girls theme song, and King even played a character, Stars Hollow music store owner Sophie Bloom, for several seasons. The result: We can never hear this song, or any other King croon, without thinking of Gilmore Girls.

Mr. and Mrs. Hep Alien

Hep Alien (Credit: Warner Bros./Everett Collection)
John Cabrera, Keiko Agena, Todd Lowe, Joel Gion, and Sebastian Bach. (Credit: Warner Bros./Everett Collection)

Lane Kim, Rory’s best friend, was a music superfan, spending much of her time and money on learning about, buying, listening to, and obsessing over her favorite tunes. She had an elaborate filing system for her CDs — under the floorboards and away from the prying eyes of strict, religious Mrs. Kim — and a multipage list of musical influences she compiled while advertising for bandmates. Not only did Lane meet two boyfriends via her love of music, but one of them, Hep Alien lead singer Zack, became her husband. Hep Alien, of which rockin’ Lane was the drummer, also featured a real-life rock star — Skid Row lead singer Sebastian Bach — as a guitarist.

The La La Las

Like the “doink doink” noise of the Law & Order franchise, Sam Phillips’s “la la las” are an iconic TV sound, the perfect note for every emotion, every situation, on the series. Phillips, who was personally recruited for Gilmore by fan Palladino, said that she “wrote and sang little melodies with ‘la’s and background vocal parts instead of lyrics to create that sonic character without stepping on the great, rapid-fire dialogue” of the series. We’re probably not spoiling anything to confirm that the “la”s are indeed one of the most welcome returning characters for Netflix’s A Year in the Life.

Troubadour Trouble

What other show, or TV town, would not only feature a town troubadour whose playlist includes everything from “Be True to Your School” to “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” but actually have dueling troubadours, played by the likes of Grant-Lee Phillips and Dave “Gruber” Allen? Musical comedy, indeed.

Walk Like a Gilmore

The Bangles were one of Lorelai’s favorite bands, and she’s thrilled to share her musical fave — not to mention concert tickets — with Rory, Lane, and Sookie. But when a chance for Rory to bond with her snooty new Chilton classmates presents itself, new ticket plans are made, and Paris, Madeline, and Louise find themselves alongside Rory with choice seats to a Bangles performance. The music’s so good even uptight Paris can’t help but dance along. That reckless Madeline and Louise get busted by Lorelai for skipping out of the concert with a couple of college guys? It positively makes Paris’s night.

Their Little Corner of the World

(Credit: The WB)
Credit: The WB

Rory has just reunited with Dean after her painful first breakup, and Lorelai has just received a marriage proposal that came with 1,000 yellow daisies. But they haven’t shared these life-changing events with each other, which is why the Season 1 finale, “Love, Daisies, and Troubadours,” ends with them running toward each other, in the middle of Stars Hollow, with Yo La Tengo’s “Our Little Corner of the World” as the music backdrop. Perfection.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premieres Nov. 25 on Netflix.