The Real Meaning of That Iconic 'Big Little Lies' Theme Song

Your insanely rich and murder-happy friends in Monterey are returning for the second season of Big Little Lies on June 9, which means everyone will be spending the summer with the show’s theme song stuck in their heads. Truly, there’s nothing like having your boyfriend/girlfriend/cat side-eye you while you’re singing “bleeding, I’m bleeding, my cold little heart” and staring wistfully out the window!

Anyway, unlike other major HBO shows (think Westworld and Game of Thrones—RIP, OLD FRIEND), the Big Little Lies intro song, “Cold Little Heart,” wasn’t actually written for the show. It’s featured on musician Michael Kiwanuka’s album Love & Hate, and the full version comes in at 9 minutes and 58 seconds. (Side note: Is that a song or a concert?!)

Here’s what else you need to know about the tune:

Good News: There’s a Music Video

And yeah, we should all take a break to watch it:

Go ahead and compare that to the Big Little Lies intro in all its evocative glory:

The Lyrics Were Tweaked for BLL

Kay, so the song’s original lyrics—in full—are below:

But interestingly, the Big Little Lies team decided to splice the lyrics up, and their version leaves out some of the darker, more emo moments like “I can’t stand myself” and “bleeding, I’m bleeding.” The show’s version is as follows:

Legit this is me in my emotions RN:


The Story Behind the Song

While Michael Kiwanuka hasn’t gifted the world with a full lyrical breakdown yet, “Cold Little Heart” is pretty clearly about someone who is dealing with their lies and deception affecting the people they love. Seems pretty spot-on given the themes in Big Little Lies, dontcha think?

The show’s music supervisor Susan Jacobs says it was the lyrics to “Cold Little Heart” that made her pick it for the intro, telling Deadline, “That song becoming the theme was a process. It did not start out that way. It was actually something where there was a lot of back and forth. There were many things that were going to be the theme. It took a long time for [executive producer/director] Jean-Marc to decide he even wanted one. That worked backwards into the theme—it was already in the show, and then it kind of came back, because the lyrics are so perfect and the blues are so perfect.”

Michael says the song came out of his desire to make a super intense album full of soul. “I kind of had the idea to do more like a soul album,” he explains. “A more intense record in general. I wanted the songs to connect to people of all ages. I didn’t want the album to be too polite. Anything that sounded too smooth, I tried to make it sound more dirtier.”

Also, FUN FACT TO END ON: “Cold Little Heart” was the most Shazamed song during Big Little Lies’ first season. Get that money, Michael Kiwanuka!

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