"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches."
Offred, The Handmaid's Tale, "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum"
The Handmaid's Tale (2017 – present) is an American utopian dystopian television show created by Bruce Miller and starring Elisabeth Moss. The series was created for the streaming service Hulu and is based off Margaret Atwood's bestselling 1985 book of the same name. The show creators use music to get effect throughout the show to set the scene and to develop characters and explore their motivation. Here are 10 Great Songs Featured on The Handmaid's Tale. This article will contain spoilers.
1. You Don't Own Me
Artist: Lesley Gore
Album: "Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts" by Lesley Gore (1963)
Episode Featured: "Offred" Season 1, Episode 1
"You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore is a classic 60's style pop song. It was written by songwriters John Madara and David White and produced by Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson's music producer. Lesley Gore recorded the song in 1963 when she was just seventeen years old. The song raced up the charts to become her second most successful song and it was her last top-ten single. "You Don't Own Me" is a song about female empowerment. Gore sings about her desire to be independent and to not be controlled by a lover that feels entitled to tell her what to think and what to say. Gore doesn't want to be one of his toys or something he puts on display. She wants to be herself, to be free, to live her life however she wants and to do and say whatever she pleases. It is a roaring, defiant, powerful feminist anthem about women freeing themselves from the power and influence of men. "You Don't Own Me" has become a rock and roll legend associated with the rise of the feminist movement. On 27 November 2016, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as testament to its lasting impact in music. It is very fitting that Gore's finger-wagging song about standing up to men was featured in "The Handmaid's Tale". The song starts playing at the end of the first episode of season one after Offred vows to herself that she intends to survive Gilead.
Artist: Kate Bush
Album: "Hounds of Love" by Kate Bush (1985)
Episode Featured: "Liars" Episode 11, Season 3
In the second half of season 3 June decides the best way to get revenge against Gilead is to kidnap a large number of children and deliver them to freedom in Canada. In order to do that, she convinces her commander, who is in on the plan, to take her to a nightclub called Jezebels so she can make contact with people who might be able to assist with the plan. While there, she is attacked by another commander, who tries to rape her. June kills him in self-defence, and later in the episode we see a band of Marthas come in and clean the room. As the women work to remove all evidence of the murder, "Cloudbusting" by Kate Bush begins to play in the background. This song was great in this episode. For a show like the Handmaid's tale, which is very dark and grim, this was a very light and positive song that tied in well to June and her plan to rescue children from Gilead. The song starts with strings and has a very steady rhythm, which makes me picture people working together as a team, or marching in a line. As the song plays, we see the Marthas working together to clean the room, showing the power of women working together. The lyrics in the song talk about "the sun coming out" and "Oh, I just know that something good is going to happen" and about trying to hide people from the government. The inclusion of this song in this episode was a real "Go get em' June" moment.
3. This Woman's Work
Artist: Kate Bush
Album: "She's Having a Baby" movie soundtrack (1988), "The Sensual World" by Kate Bush (1989)
Episode Featured: "June" Episode 1, Season 2
"This Woman's Work" is featured in the opening scene of the season two episode premier "June". Offred, along with several other handmaids, are collected by guardians and driven to an abandoned baseball field. As punishment for disobeying Aunt Lydia in a previous episode, the women are muzzled and forced at gunpoint to climb onto a platform which has been erected with nooses. The women each have a noose put around their neck and that is when "This Woman's Work" starts to play in the background. Fearing they are about to be hanged, the handmaids begin to cry, and some of them reach out to hold hands. "This Woman's Work" is a brilliant fit for this scene. It is a slow piano ballad that builds to high crescendo as the emotion builds up in the scene. The lyrics in the song are haunting, talking about all the things they should have said, all the things they should have done, and how much they would kill to have those moments back again. It is a wonderful song that perfectly describes the life of a handmaid and the woman's work they are forced to do.
4. Heaven Is a Place on Earth
Artist: Belinda Carlisle
Album: "Heaven on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle (1987)
Episode Featured: "Heroic" Episode 9, Season 3