Photos (From Left, Clockwise): Via Ariel Pink; Via Best Coast; Via Billy Joel; Via Red Hot Chili Peppers
We could go on and on about how much we love L.A. — the chilled-out vibe, the beautiful beaches, the perfect weather (sorry to rub it in, East Coasters!). Then again, we could always let Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino do the
But of course, Cosentino isn't the only artist with local pride. To prove it, we've rounded up 20 quintessential tracks that celebrate our stomping grounds. There's no shortage of Lala love — from Dr. Dre to Sheryl Crow, this mixtape has major hometown props splashed all over it. So, amp it up (heck — throw your hands up!) and cruise onto Mulholland for a serious rock-out sesh.
When Guns N' Roses jumped onto the scene in the mid '80s, it defined an entire generation of West Coast rock and roll — from the sleazy spirit of Sunset Strip to the glitzy glam of Hollywood. Never again would bandanas seem so cool, or Axl seem as crazy.
Snoop Doggy Dogg — "Gin And Juice"
Before he was Snoop Lion, Snoop Doggy Dogg was rolling down the streets of LBC smoking blunts and keeping it cool. Of all the great West Coast rap to come from that era, nothing captures the laid-back California vibe like Snoop's smooth-rollin' rhymes.
X — "Los Angeles"
In 1977, L.A.'s X brought catchy hooks and three-chord pop with just as much energy and snarl as its punk mates out in London. "Los Angeles" is the band's ode to — well, the title is self-explanatory!
Beck — "Hollywood Freaks"
"Hollywood Freaks" may be an indictment of excess, but it's also written by a guy who is a born-and-bred scientologist –– you can't get more L.A. than that. With lyrics about "expensive jeans" and "Hollywood freaks on the Hollywood scene," you get the sense that Beck has lived quite the studied life.
Red Hot Chili Peppers — "Under The Bridge"
Rumored to be a veiled analogy for a heroin addiction, we'll choose to ignore this song's questionable subtext and embrace one of L.A.'s most celebrated bands. Now, take us to the place we love!
Phantom Planet — "California"
Perhaps the most iconic SoCal song of the new millennium, Phantom Planet's "California" still makes for one of the best top-down belt-outs ever. Gossip Girl has nothing on The O.C.!
Kendrick Lamar — "Compton"
After a decade of being overshadowed by its East Coast counterpoint, the L.A. rap scene is now as hot as ever. Case in point: Kendrick signed with his fellow Compton pal-about-town Dr. Dre, releasing this awesome track about their hometown.
The Doors — "L.A. Woman"
With "L.A. Woman," Jim Morrison captured a smoldering version of the California girl — far darker and more sensual than anything The Beach Boys (or Katy Perry!) could dream up. And, more than forty years after its release, the lyrics still resonate.
Randy Newman — "I Love L.A."
"I Love L.A." is a bit sappy, but Randy Newman does sappy so well. So, if listening to this crooner get all mushy doesn't stir your emotions, your heart needs a pill!
Lana Del Rey — "Radio"
She may be a New Yorker, but Lana Del Rey oozes Old Hollywood glam. With "Radio," she sings about how she finally found happiness in Los Angeles –– a sentiment we applaud.
Hole — "Malibu"
Say what you will about Courtney Love, but "Malibu" captures the feeling of escaping to L.A. better than almost any other song. Just one thing: She sings about chasing her lover to California, while we get more lovesick about its beaches!
The Notorious B.I.G. — "Going Back To Cali"
Even this die-hard East Coast rapper has a soft place in his heart for California, which he shared on this penultimate Biggie Smalls track. Even when hip-hop beef was at its worst, everyone could still agree on one thing: You just can't beat that Cali sunshine.
The Mamas & The Papas — "California Dreamin'"
Our East Coast staff knows exactly what "California Dreamin'" is all about: That bitter midwinter freeze when all you want is to see the sun peek out again. We may take the Golden State's sunshine for granted, but Mama Cass knew otherwise.
Best Coast — "The Only Place"
Best Coast's ode to L.A. may be the most literal track on our list (well, aside from Randy Newman's), with Bethany Cosentino taking her sweet time listing all the things she loves about California. It's all very endearing, and the effect is a song that plays like a checklist for why her home state is awesome.
Weezer — "Beverly Hills"
Rivers Cuomo may be poking fun of the L.A. lifestyle on this track, but the fact remains that the Weez is one of L.A.'s top exports. Plus, if you're going to take the dive and live in Beverly Hills, it's essential to have a sense of humor about it.
The Beach Boys — "California Girls"
If the Beach Boys aren't already the greatest American rock band of all time, they're almost certainly the best band to hail from L.A. We could have picked virtually any Beach Boys track for this playlist, but there's something about "California Girls" that's totally timeless.
Elliott Smith — "Angeles"
Singer-songwriter Elliott Smith is from the Pacific Northwest originally, but he spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. Consequently, "Angeles" has a particular brand of melancholy that captures the effect the city had on him. It may not be a happy song, but it's certainly gorgeous to listen to.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti — "Beverly Kills"
If there's someone that personifies L.A.'s current underground music scene more than anyone else, it would be Ariel Pink. He may be one of the weirder musicians west of the Mississippi (or anywhere on the planet, for that matter), but that's why we love him.
Sublime — "What I Got"
There are few — if any — bands more SoCal than Sublime, to the point where you can't turn on KROQ without hearing Bradley Nowell's voice echoing through the airways. Of all their tracks, "What I Got" may represent the band best: Laid-back stoners, with a dose of Garden Grove gangster.
Morrissey — "Redondo Beach"
We love the Patti Smith original, but for whatever reason this Moz cover has a special place in our hearts, too. The subject matter is somber (a woman commits suicide), but the song is beautiful nonetheless.
Sheryl Crow — "All I Wanna Do"
With one song, Sheryl Crow captured the vibe of a night on the town and provided a mantra for a generation of Angelenos. If you really think about it, "All I Wanna Do" was 1994's version of #YOLO.
2Pac — "California Love"
Sure, this is a playlist about L.A., but why not spread the love? 2Pac may have been an Oakland native, but the young rapper always had love for Lala.
Billy Joel — "Los Angelenos"
The Piano Man captures L.A. in one whiskey-drenched swig with "Los Angelenos." While admittedly on the cheesy side, Billy Joel still sounds great on every well-loved jukebox from Silver Lake to Santa Monica.