The City of Angels has been memorialized in countless songs and musical endeavors – but sometimes a song doesn’t need to be specifically about L.A. to inspire that sunny, dreamy, starry-eyed feeling. Whether you’re sitting in traffic, or looking to spruce up your knowledge of local L.A. bands, here is a 12-song playlist that covers the beauty of the city in every genre.
A perfectly contemporary song with brooding synthesizers and dreamy vocals, To Die In L.A. evokes the image of an orange sherbet sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Local Natives are one of L.A.’s favorite local artists – poster children for climbing the ladder of success with elbow grease, luck, and serious talent. The gang vocals and consistent clapping in Sun Hands create a community wherever you go.
This is a great one for crisp L.A. winter’s nights. It’s calm, but bustling, and anyone in L.A. knows that a good jazz break is always necessary!
The Doors are an L.A. band of lore, and this is the title track of their sixth hit album. It’s like a time capsule of the city in the 1970s.
L.A. demonstrates true West Coast hip-hop with the late, great Biggie Smalls. Regardless of race, age, or neighborhood, Biggie brings all Angelenos together, so bump this in your ride to pay homage.
Mellow vibes courtesy of Ice Cube, straight out of the early 1990s, before racial tensions roiled during the L.A. riots.
No L.A. playlist is complete without Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Under The Bridge is the ultimate classic. It’s the city in a nutshell – melancholic but always hopeful.
Pent-up aggression in L.A. traffic, or from not getting that call back – it’s nothing that can’t be alleviated by The Distillers. Nothing like shouting ‘all I see is dead wings’ when that anger strikes!
It’s no secret that L.A. can feel a little bleak sometimes, and Duran Duran nail that unsettling feeling with this track. The ‘metal tube’ metaphor is the trail of traffic that stretches across L.A.’s main arteries – and they’ve got it spot on.
Escape to summer in the sand surrounded by beautiful people with this Beach Boys classic.
It’s also no secret that Hollywood is full of freaky sights – so get funky with Beck and celebrate the bizarre charm of this town.
The Unicorns aren’t from L.A. – nor is this song necessarily about the city – but part of this video is live footage from the L.A. club, Spaceland. Not to mention, native Angelenos are as rare as unicorns.
This song is a joyride; basking in the L.A. sunshine while zooming down the street with the top down. Just say it with Randy Newman and you can’t help but smile about this city: ‘I love L.A.’!
By Britt Witt