In Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) dreams of ditching her mundane Sacramento lifestyle and pursuing the thrill and glamour of New York.
Of course, Lady Bird’s plans to move to the big city don’t exactly pan out the way she expects them to. But no matter whether Lady Bird is heartbroken, overjoyed, confused, doubtful, relieved, or all of the above, she gets through it all with singing, dancing and pop culture references abound. It wouldn’t be a true coming-of-age movie without at least one nod to 90s pop music, after all.
If you plan to see Lady Bird at TIFF or when it comes out in theatres on November 10, check out this playlist inspired by some of the standout musical moments from the film.
“PEOPLE ARE STRANGE” – THE DOORS
At one point in the movie, Lady Bird’s love interest, Danny (played by the adorable Lucas Hedges) lands the leading role of Frank in their school’s production of Merrily We Roll Along. He tells Lady Bird that he wants to curl his hair “like Jim Morrison” for the role and, in a sweetly awkward gesture, Lady Bird gives him a full container of hot rollers as a gift. Even though Lady Bird later has to ask her brother who Jim Morrison is, we thought it’d be appropriate to include this song anyway.
“EVERYBODY SAYS DON’T” – BARBRA STREISAND
Lady Bird uses this as her drama club audition song, and it’s easy to see why. The whole song is basically just Barbra Streisand talking about how she wants to do things that other people tell her she can’t do. Which is pretty much Lady Bird’s entire M.O.
“MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG” – MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
Don’t let the cheerful tone of the song fool you—Merrily We Roll Along is actually kind of deep. The famous Sondeheim musical is about what happens when you choose a life of stability and predictability versus a life of uncertainty and passion. It’s also about growing up. Lady Bird is certain of nothing other than the fact that she wants to move to New York, and even that becomes less of a sure thing as the movie goes on. Luckily Lady Bird, unlike the characters in Merrily We Roll Along, still has her whole life ahead of her.
“CRY ME A RIVER” – JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
Timberlake’s unforgettable breakup jam shows up late in the movie, when Lady Bird enters a party. Though Justin is clearly singing about the destruction of a romantic relationship, the lyrics are also weirdly relevant to Lady Bird’s strained relationship with her mom, Marion. Lady Bird and Marion both have good reasons for doing what they do, but neither person wants to see things from the other’s perspective. Cue a whole lot of bitterness, yelling, and passive aggressiveness.
“HAND IN MY POCKET” – ALANIS MORISSETTE
When Lady Bird and her dad, Larry, are driving in the car together, Lady Bird notes that Alanis Morissette allegedly wrote “Hand In My Pocket” in under an hour. Her father’s response? “I believe it.” A little harsh, sure, but it becomes clear that alt-pop isn’t exactly Larry’s thing as soon as he makes this next reference.
“YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT” – THE ROLLING STONES
As they approach Lady Bird’s school, she tells her dad to drop her off a couple blocks away from the front doors. Larry, always looking on the bright side, agrees and tells her that, like The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, “I’m happy to be anywhere.” This Stones classic is a perfect representation of what Lady Bird goes through during her last year of high school – she never seems to be satisfied with what she has but in the end she does, indeed, get what she needs.