The songs speak for the characters
With lyrics about secrets and playing games, "Cold Little Heart" is the perfect opening salvo for a show about deception. The rest of the songs picked for Big Little Lies are similarly on point. When Shailene Woodley's Jane Chapman goes for an angry run, she sings along to Martha Wainwright's cathartic "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole." (That song, oddly enough, was written about the singer's father, folk singer Loudon Wainwright III.) Similarly, the sparse piano ballad "September Song" by Danish songwriter Agnes Obel soundtracks Madeline's sadness when her daughter moves out; in Season Two, Madeline's daughter is shown listening to Portishead's "The Rip," an appropriately bummer of a track.
At the same time, the David E. Kelley-penned show also uses music to complement the spiky humor that keeps you tuning in every week. Occasionally songs are used to communicate truths about the one thing money can't buy: taste. In the most recent episode, Zoë Kravitz's yoga-loving mom Bonnie plays Sade's "Cherish the Day" during a tense dinner party. Of course, the much less cool Madeline thought it was an Adele track. It's a small moment, but it's the type of thing a lesser show would skip right over or put too much emphasis on. Big Little Lies lets it sit for just long enough.
The clever use of music is something that didn't exist in Liane Moriarty's novel. Instead, it's an invention of Vallée, who used to be a DJ, and music supervisor Sue Jacobs, who previously worked with the director and producer Witherspoon on the movie Wild. "He goes in knowing that he doesn't want a composer," Jacobs told Vulture in an interview. "He likes working with me in that way -- throw me a bunch of this and I'll throw you a bunch of that. He also knows when he needs an edge or something romantic, because he's telling his story through music and controls it that way."
Judging from the credits, Jacobs did not return for Season Two. (According to IMDB, she's been working on Sharp Objects, Netflix's Maniac, and a number of upcoming movies.) Instead, the music supervision for Season Two has come from a music supervision company called Earworm. They've kept the quality up, dropping tracks like Breton Wood's "Great Big Bundle of Love" in Episode 2 and Massive Attack's "Karmacoma" in Episode 3. The vibe is still there.
What musical surprises could the rest of the season have in store? Last year's finale centered around a costume-filled party, where Adam Scott's character dressed up like Elvis, so it's not unreasonable to think there might be some other music-adjacent event coming up in the final stretch of episodes of Season Two. Maybe a Monterey battle of the bands at the aquarium? A choir concert at the school? A rave in the back of the yoga studio? You'll have to keep watching to find out.