As the epicenter for both the music and film industries, it’s hardly surprising that countless music videos have been shot in Los Angeles – here, the two scenes converge perfectly to make artistic short films that accompany the music of our times. However, the following artists and videos in particular have special connections to the city, which is clearly reflected in the music. Some give a positive view of L.A., some negative, but all videos reflect its central role in the music, lyrics, and artistic direction. Suffice it to say these music videos and even musicians wouldn’t have been the same without the inspiration of LA.
Snoop has quite a few music videos and songs specifically devoted to the deep love he has for his native city (see also ‘Here’s to U LA’ and ‘California Roll’). However, this has to be one of the most iconic originals, following the D-O-double-G as he cruises around in a cool car to some of the most renowned spots in Hollywood, Crenshaw, and beyond. More than anybody, Snoop is always committed to giving it all up for his hometown.
Since its release, this song has been played at every home Lakers game for the past thirty years. It’s straight from 1983, as evinced by the filmography so typical of the era. It also features a cherished shot of the now-demolished 6th Street bridge.
There’s something about the eighties that perfectly aligns with gritty downtown L.A. The opening of this video shows Madonna dressed in an urban denim-on-denim ensemble, casually break-dancing under the bridge with some of her love interests. Like a real Angeleno. Naturally.
Nobody says it quite like Tupac, especially when he talks about his love for LA, declaring ‘ it’s the place to be/you got to be there to know it/what everybody wanna see’. Originally from the East Coast, his soulful tribute to the city features him selling fruit by the side of the freeway before being lured into a yellow convertible by an adoring group of girls. Living the dream.
The RHCP were known for their artsy, innovative, and sometimes even creepy music videos that circulated heavily on MTV when it actually used to show music videos. This video is no exception, but it is particularly beautiful considering the song is about lead singer Anthony Kiedis scoring drugs underneath a bridge in MacArthur Park in downtown L.A., whilst imagining the city personified as a kindred spirit.
One of Tom Petty’s greatest hits was surprisingly shot in a less-than-glamorous location: a random Westside Pavilion in San Fernando Valley, but also at the famous Pink’s Hot Dogs in West Hollywood. If anything, this song is an ode to the suburbs, complete with palm trees lining Ventura Boulevard.
It’s notable that a lot of great rap songs feature the artists rolling through the streets in a cool car in their music videos. This is definitely a theme that developed in videos shot in LA, given the unavoidable car culture and easy thrill of cruising around your neighborhood in a convertible come Summer. Ice Cube agrees as he rolls around Compton without any trouble – that’s what makes ‘a good day.’