Every Synth-Laden, Haunting Song You Heard In Russian Doll Season 1

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
For those who are looking for a more fatal update on the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Netflix’s Russian Doll is definitely the show for you. The dark comedy stars Natasha Lyonne as Nadia, a woman who for some reason can’t seem to escape her own birthday party alive. Lucky for us, this party has a pretty killer soundtrack. And it’s one worth paying close attention to since the songs in Russian Doll can offer insight into Nadia’s emotional journey. Unfortunately, no, the show’s playlist won’t actually help you solve the mystery of what’s going on here, but nice try.
The soundtrack for Russian Doll season 1 is filled with psych rock, French pop, forgotten ‘60s bangers, and a whole lot of chanteuses doing some very trippy stuff (not unlike Nadia herself, who can’t seem to do the simplest of tasks without worrying she’ll die again and again and again).
It must be said that the show’s premise definitely rings true in its soundtrack, too, which finds fun ways to repeat itself. (Seriously, after watching all eight episodes try getting Harry Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up” out of your head. It’s not gonna happen.) For those other songs that you just don’t recognize on a first or maybe even second listen, that’s where we come in to help you identify them. You know, just in case you want to add them to your next party playlist. But be warned, there are spoilers for season 1 ahead.
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Episode 1: Harry Nilsson, “Gotta Get Up”

This track off Nilsson Schmilsson is the first song you hear in Russian Doll and it’s one you’ll hear over and over and over again throughout the season, a symbol that Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) is back and ready to take on a new day that just happens to be the same day.
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Episode 1: Ariel Pink & Weyes Blood, “Morning After”

The 2017 collaboration between Ariel Pink and Natalie Mering, better known as Weyes Blood, is fitting, since yes, this is technically the morning after Nadia’s first deadly experience. It’s also the perfect soundtrack for Maxine’s (Greta Lee) trippy art projections.
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Episode 1: Cass McCombs, “Dreams-Come-True-Girl”

Cass McCombs’ track from 2009 about, not a dream girl necessarily, but a dreams-come-true-girl, plays as Nadia tries to explain to her ex John (Yul Vazquez) what exactly she thinks is going on with her, which is really more of a nightmare than a dream. Listen close and you’ll hear it again in the opening of episode 3.
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Episode 1: Kat Edmonson, “If”

For an anxiety-ridden moonlit walk through the park, Edmonson’s track off last year’s Old Fashioned Gal feels very fitting. Especially, since she sings about how a “detour through the park lures you further to the dark.” Yep, sounds about right.
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Episode 1: Light Asylum, “Shallow Tears”

The electronic duo’s 2012 single about not wanting to be left alone plays out the first episode, which ends with a lonely Nadia on a mission to figure out what’s happening to her.
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Episode 2: Pony Sherrell, “Don’t Put Off ’Til Tomorrow”

The episode begins with this track off this forgotten screen siren’s 1956 album, Jungle, Ungle, Um, Bai!, which was re-released last year. It also happens to be a good piece of advice for Nadia as she gets ready to face another day where she may or may not die. Spoiler: she always may.
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Episode 2: Mae West, “My New Year’s Resolution”

This psychedelic track off Mae West’s 1966 holiday album, Wild Christmas, warns to stay away from temptation, but Nadia can’t help herself. That’s why she calls Maxine’s drug dealer to see if it was the joints from her birthday party that’s got her feeling all loopy.
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Episode 2: Wordsmith, “Get What You Love”

On Nadia’s mission to figure out whether it’s the birthday drugs that have caused her current death spiral it’s this Baltimore-based motivational rapper that’s playing in the club.
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Episode 2: Anika, “I Go To Sleep”

Unlike what the title of this track off the British songwriter’s 2010 debut album might suggest, this song ends up being Nadia’s stay awake song as she tries to power through her birthday party with lots of booze, drugs, and definitely no trips down the stairs.
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Episode 2: ALA.NI, “Cherry Blossom”

For an eerie walk down the street that should bring you as much déjà vu as Nadia, the yearning of ALA.NI’s Billie Holiday-like delivery will give you goosebumps. Don’t worry, though, it’s the good kind.
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Episode 2: The Limiñanas, “Migas 2000”

Instead of fighting this whole death thing, Nadia decides to live it up and this French husband and wife garage-psych duo feels just right for embracing the chaos, man. Especially since this song is really just guitarist/singer Lionel Limiñana’s grandmother’s recipe for Migas, a Spanish dish made with leftover bread that is apparently not for the faint of stomach.
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Episode 3: Gemma Ray, “Caldera, Caldera!”

The pop-noir of Gemma Ray helps set the tone of Nadia’s current mysterious predicament. It also doesn’t make for a bad soundtrack to her drunken walk through the park where she meets a man with no shoes who really wants to give her a haircut.
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Episode 3: John Maus, “Cop Killer”

On her search to find the shoeless homeless man from the night before, John Maus’ 2011 synth-heavy protest song sets menacing tone to whatever may happen next.
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Episode 3: The Echocentrics, “Death Of A Rockstar”

This funeral march fittingly plays Nadia to her own death via an elevator that is definitely going down. In the final episode, it returns this time to give Alan the true rockstar treatment.
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Episode 3: Gang Gang Dance, “Mindkilla”

After having her mind blown over the realization that she’s not the only one who just keeps on dying, lead singer Lizzi Bougatsos’ beautifully feral howl plays Nadia out of this episode.
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Episode 4: Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: III. Rondo: Vivace

Instead of Harry Nilsson, Nadia’s death twin Alan, played by Charlie Barnett, wakes up to this classic Beethoven number and his affirmations for success. Nilsson Schmilsson, am I right?
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Episode 4: Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 In D, Op. 36-4. Allegro Molto

Alan’s journey continues with another one from Beethoven that helps him accost his ex-girlfriend’s lover, but you know, in a classy way.
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Episode 5: Vex Ruffin, “Front”

When Alan shows up to Nadia’s party to fight his ex’s love again, it’s this dance track from Vex Ruffin’s 2017 album, Conveyor that “welcomes him to yesterday,” as Nadia so nicely puts it. And it continues to do so throughout the episode.
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Episode 5: Timber Timbre, “Black Water”

After both Nadia and Alan have an air conditioner fall on their heads, the screen cuts to black and it’s Timber Timbre’s plea, “All I need is some sunshine,” that welcomes you to the credits and reality.
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Episode 6: Jacqueline Taïeb, “La Plus Belle Chanson”

Whether or not this really is the “most beautiful song in the world,” which is what the song’s title translates to in English, is hard to say. But, the French pop star from the ‘60s did make the song that soundtracks Nadia and Alan’s first (and possibly last) sexual encounter.
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Episode 6: Cults, “You Know What I Mean”

After tearfully remembering his first death, it’s the Cults 2011 track about needing to be saved over a doo-wop arrangement that plays them into the abyss we call the credits.
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Episode 7: When In Rome, “The Promise”

In the penultimate episode’s opening scene, we get our first sighting of young Nadia and her mom, played by Chloë Sevigny, soundtracked by When In Rome’s 1987 track. It might sound familiar, too, since this earnest love plea is featured in Napoleon Dynamite.
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Episode 7: Pussy Riot, “Organs”

Following Nadia’s most violent death, it’s Pussy Riot’s 2016 single in which the Russian proto-punk group rage against their bodies and a government that tries to control them that plays over the credits.
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Courtesy of Netflix
Episode 8: Vaffamix, “Ethno Love (Vaffa Superstar Remix)”

This 2011 remix from the electronic artist is Nadia and Alan’s getaway song, even if they don’t get away with any of Alan’s stuff. Don’t worry, some of it, like that horsehead mask, will come in handy later.
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Episode 8: Love, “Alone Again Or”

A fitting final song for the end of Russian Doll where both Alan and Nadia finally stop dying and get to start living choosing not to be alone again. Instead, they decide to find out whatever that “or” may end up being.

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