HBO's moody, darkly funny new thriller Big Little Lies, based on the 2014 novel of the same name, premiered with episodes so strong, it's a little bit of a bummer that this drama is only going to air as a miniseries. The all-star core cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Adam Scott, and Alexander Skarsgard, and the series is interspersed with satisfying cameos by the likes of Sarah Baker and HBO alum Kelen Coleman. The show's opening perfectly set its tone, but who sings the Big Little Lies opening credits song? You might recognize the artist if you're a fan of Parenthood.
Michael Kiwanuka supplies the track, titled "Cold Little Heart" (a perfect accessory for big little lies), and he also provided a few songs for the NBC drama. He's a British soul musician who played the 2011 Adele Live tour and, in his solo career, has earned comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Randy Newman, and Otis Redding. The haunting "Cold Little Heart" is a great match for Big Little Lies' sweeping opening sequence, which features stunning views of the California coastline in Monterey from the Cabrillo Highway (an extension of the Pacific Coast Highway), framed through the luxury cars of the show's leading moms driving. The show's setting is so specific and richly detailed that Monterey almost becomes a character in itself.
The opening sequence smartly starts out with Chloe, Madeline's youngest daughter, gazing out the car window with earbuds in. The bright seven-year-old's defining characteristic is an impeccably sophisticated musical taste, so it's easy to imagine little Chloe savoring the wailing vocals and distorted electric guitar in her headphones while her mom, played by Reese Witherspoon, zips her off to yet another activity or playdate.
From there, we see snippets of each of the three moms at the center of the story carting their kids off to someplace or another, punctuated by sequences of the kids and moms twirling down a runway, which is meant to evoke the deadly costume charity event we know the series is driving toward. The opening's dreamy quality paired with crashing ocean waves sets up gorgeous visuals to accompany the song's mournful lyrics:
Did you ever fight it?
All of the pain, so much power
Running through my veins
Bleeding, I'm bleeding
My cold little heart
Oh I, I can't stand myself
On Kiwanuka's album, this song is actually a 10-minute-long opening track. But Big Little Lies masterfully employed the snippet it used for its opening credits that I wouldn't mind listening to on repeat over and over again.