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Long before the Açaí bowl or the dive bar, LA was a source of creative inspiration, a city complete with crowded beaches, beautiful sunshine, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. These days, whether you’re cruising down the PCH, jamming out to live music, or cooling down with a snow cone on Venice boardwalk, the city of angels is flooded with divine energy. Channel your inner Angeleno with this ultimate LA-inspired playlist, featuring the timeless beauty of a city that has inspired generations of artists, from Frank Sinatra to Lana Del Rey.
Marking the very start of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, this Mamas & Papas original has survived the test of time. The iconic song explores feelings of homesickness felt on the East Coast, where the ‘leaves are brown and the sky is grey,’ a melancholy that inspires the chorus, ‘California dreaming on a winter’s day.’ From old records in your grandparents’ basement to the shelves of Urban Outfitters, ‘California Dreamin’’ remains an iconic California anthem. The cover by the Beach Boys has been dubbed the ‘song that’s launched a thousand beach parties.’
This Snoop D-O-double G original (featuring Marty James) will have you humming ‘el lay’ under your breath all day. The chorus pays homage to Snoop Dogg’s hometown and features a laid back West Coast vibe, giving shout-outs to all things LA, from Sunset Boulevard and the ‘Pacific Highway, out to the walk of stars.’
A California classic and Dr. Dre collaboration, hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur’s hit song ‘California Love’ is often considered the West Coast anthem. Commonly played at sporting events, during TV commercials, in liquor stores across the city, and as the occasional throwback on the radio, this famous song is recognized worldwide. Check out the cover by somekindawonderful available on Spotify.
Local LA artist Shwayze is famous for his laid back, California-inspired lyrics, quintessential to any Los Angeles playlist. From upscale parties to carefree summer days, ‘Lazy Days’ captures the very essence of Malibu, an area known for being the playground of the rich and the famous.
Featured in a PSP commercial for the Midnight Club LA Remix game, this catchy song will be your next musical guilty pleasure. Produced by The Grouch, a member of an underground indie hip-hop collective, the track captures the essence of LA as the land of opportunity, where hustlers are said to be born, and people are constantly working toward their dreams. The techno beat is perfect for the Uber ride to the club or for dancing at red lights.
Phantom Planet’s ‘California’ is the ultimate throwback song. It will take you back nearly a decade with its piano-driven ballad and laid back melody, made famous as the theme song of LA’s hit show, The OC. Native to Hollywood, the indie rock band perfectly depicts a timeless energy of the city, from ‘driving down the 101’ to ‘driving in the sun.’ This track is ideal for a jog down PCH or a drive along the coast on a warm, breezy day.
This psychedelic rock song depicts a woman leaving her lover for LA and the promise of fame and fortune. Lana Del Rey’s sensual voice conveys a cross between LA’s hypnotic, relaxed atmosphere and the chaos experienced in the big city. Be sure to check out James Vincent McMorrow‘s rendition for the perfect addition to your Canyon playlist.
As the entertainment capital of the world, LA’s Hollywood lifestyle has inspired artists for centuries. Madonna’s ‘Hollywood’ explicitly sheds light on LA culture, greed, and glamor from a place of personal experience. A city of ‘pop stars and illusory dreams,’ Hollywood is known around the world for its A-list parties, award shows, and ‘something in the air’ that keeps you there.
Yet another song about leaving behind a lover for Los Angeles, ‘West Coast’ tells a tale of separation and heartbreak that arises from ‘goin’ back home to the West Coast.’ Although LA natives may leave the city, these travels are transient while love for LA is forever; there is no where in the world like the city of Los Angeles. Coming from Coconut Record’s Debut Album Nighttiming, this track shares a similar mellow vibe brought to life in Phantom Planet’s ‘California.’
A classic of Frank Sinatra‘s, this endearing song is all about a man’s love for his lady – Lady Los Angeles, that is. Sinatra brings the city of angels to life with his poetic lyrics, in which he personifies LA as the woman with the answer to his wildest dreams and leaves a part of himself behind when he leaves her. Having written songs about Chicago and New York, this classic song is Frank Sinatra’s tribute to his love for Los Angeles, one that keeps him ‘cool in July and warm in December.’