We round up our favorite songs off the show just in time for the premiere of its Netflix revival
It’s been 16 years since Gilmore Girls aired its first episode, but we still keep coming back—for the speedy dialogue and witty banter, for the will-they-or-won’t-they tension and for the drama that often turns into some kind of comedy, yes, but also to admire just how well-versed the fast-talking mother-daughter duo of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore were in pop culture.
The Gilmore girls had a knack for knowing what would become highly relevant years later (remember when Lorelai got off the phone with Luke saying, “See you when Hillary’s President?”), and their choice selection of literary and musical references remains unparalleled. Before you resume that mandatory marathon (Netflix debuts the Winter episode today!), we recall a few of the songs that made it to the Gilmores’ radar.
Fade Into You by Mazzy Star (Season 1, Episode 9)
Hollywood takes pretty much any chance to score scenes with Mazzy Star’s 1993 hit, but we have to admit that there are few alternatives that could have accompanied Rory’s first dance at Chilton as tenderly as this song did. In the background, the beloved preppy troublemaker Tristan Dugray seethes as Rory and Dean kiss. Also in this episode: Big Star by Thirteen.
One Line by P.J. Harvey (Season 1, Episode 21)
Dean had become Rory’s least popular boyfriend toward the end of the show’s run, but Season One Dean was a pretty great guy who sat through countless movies with Rory and her mother with no complaint, and even built Rory a car. From scratch. He shows up at Chilton after they’ve broken up, only to find Rory with Tristan. Just as he turns to leave, Rory tells Dean she’s in love with him, and Tristan has to watch Rory emphatically pick Dean over him for the nth time.
My Little Corner of the World by Yo La Tengo (Season 1, Episode 21)
At the end of the episode, Rory and Lorelai run breathlessly toward each other, both raring to share their good news: Rory has gotten back together with Dean, and Lorelai is engaged to Max Medina. There’s no shortage of heartwarming Lorelai-Rory scenes, but here we’re reminded that the rare, rock-solid relationship between the two is the anchor of this show.
This is Hell by Elvis Costello (Season 2, Episode 5)
Here, we first meet Jess, Luke’s sullen nephew who’s forced to move to Stars Hollow after his mother is unable to rein him in in New York. The song perfectly captures Jess’ misery after getting off the bus at Stars Hollow for the first time. As Jess surveys his new home—Luke’s cozy diner and stark apartment, the cheery small town—Costello’s is the song that mocks him.
Know Your Onion by The Shins (Season 2, Episode 7)
Years before everyone knew of The Shins, Rory had them on loop during her early days as a loner at Chilton. Know Your Onion keeps Rory company at lunch, right before the Chilton guidance counselor calls Rory into her office to discuss her adjustment to prep school.
Monkey Gone to Heaven by Pixies (Season 2, Episode 21)
It’s sweet that Rory cuts class to take a bus to New York just because Jess “didn’t say goodbye.” There she finds him reading a book on a bench at Washington Square Park, and they spend their day eating hotdogs and rummaging through vintage vinyls at a record store. It’s clear books aren’t the only thing these two had in common—which is why, over a decade later, many of us remain firmly on #TeamJess.