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.
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 sophisticated 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."