The Big Little Lies Soundtrack has been everything to me. It’s soulful, it’s eclectic, it’s therapeutic. In this review, I speak from a place focused on the music itself and how it interplays with the cinematography and visual beauty of this Monterey based mini series. I'd like to talk about the show itself in more depth another time. There are mixed reviews on it, which I can fully understand. It's a show predominantly focused on wealthy white women, so of course criticism abounds. I’m able to look past that and see the beauty and gravity of it. For more on that, read here.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Monterey and the Northern California coast, and fell in love all at once and very deeply. It’s a cool, earthy, raw beauty that can be difficult to put into words. I was only 23 when I visited, and the only way I knew how to describe it back then was through my photography. When I look back at the shots I took, there’s an odd sense of longing and heartache in them.
The northern California coast feels incredibly wistful and conjures up deep emotions for me. I’ve always felt most at home and at peace by the ocean, and Monterey perfectly embodies my love for the sea.
After watching Big Little Lies, I realized music could do an incredible job at delivering the essence of this place for me.
Now that I’ve gone on a proper tangent about my love for the setting of Big Little Lies, let’s get into why I’m really here: that soundtrack. I've always been attached to songs played in film and tv and moments in life for that matter. There's something about connecting music to a living, breathing experience I find so powerful. Whether it's the perfect score, a beautiful melody on the piano or a poignant lyric at just the right moment, In some ways I find music even more impactful than the words being spoken.
The soundtrack of this show defines it. The music becomes a character in its own right, playing a pivotal role both in the lives of its characters and in setting the tension and the tone of every scene.
The real mystery of this whodunnit series isn’t who was killed and who did the killing [though both persons remain anonymous until the bitter end], it’s how in the world does six year old Chloe have such impeccable taste in music?! If only I were as precocious about music at six as she was [I didn’t really come into my own until at least 12 I’d say, and even then, I was still harboring some serious love for NSYNC, cringe!].
Little Chloe plays music to set the scene, to elicit emotions, to comfort those around her. I may have not been that way when I was six, but these days Chloe and I are motivated by music and utilize it in very much the same way.
Music and lyrics can speak infinitely more to ones true feelings than anything they'd ever say out loud. The show is packed with instability, with heartache, with angst, with anger, with brutality. The music chosen brings a depth and a soul to the fraught emotions of Big Little Lies, and does it so deftly.
From classics [SO many fantastic Elvis tracks and covers], to more current favorites of mine like The Alabama Shakes and Villagers, this soundtrack is a beautiful amalgam of my tastes. Michael Kiwanuka’s Cold Little Heart opens the show. The complete 10+ minute version is haunting. I could go song by song and wax poetic about my love and appreciation for each choice, but this is already getting a bit long in the tooth, so maybe I’ll save that for another day!
Really though, I haven’t stopped listening to the Big Little Lies soundtrack since it was made available weeks ago. It speaks to me like no other soundtrack has. I’ve always loved songs that have an emotional pull, and this soulful, eclectic mix is perfect in my eyes [or rather, to my ears].
Nearly every song is about love, about heartbreak, about a sense of longing. The extended compilation of songs on Spotify is even better. Your homework for this week: find the extended soundtrack on Spotify and/or buy the official soundtrack on iTunes. Listen to it in its entirety. Repeat as necessary. Here are a few of my favorite tracks off the official soundtrack: