Whether you’re moving across the country to follow your dreams or relocating a few cities away for work, Los Angeles has attracted movers and shakers since the late 1700s.
The question is: What makes the City of Angels so special?
Perhaps it’s the allure and glitz of Hollywood. It is the entertainment capital of the world, after all. Or maybe it’s the year-round sunshine and the laid-back Cali disposition. Having beaches practically in your backyard doesn’t hurt, either.
Whatever it may be, it is undeniable that LA has captivated and inspired countless songs by artists across the globe. Musicians through every generation have been telling us what makes it so special — and we think you should hear what they have to say. From iconic classics to contemporary hits, we’ve curated 11 tracks on Spotify that will set the tone for your journey and piece together the story of Los Angeles.
We had to set the tone with Weezer's catchy ode to the aspirational charm of Los Angeles. Released in 2005, the alternative rock band's track is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Plus it’s almost impossible not to scream this chorus at the top of your lungs.
Continuing on with some great guitar riffs is an energetic classic from the legendary RHCP. The accompanying music video pays homage to California’s rich music history as the band dresses up as other iconic musical artists. We highly recommend you give it a watch.
Despite being born in Harlem and raised in Baltimore, Tupac is touted as one of, if not the most, influential rappers associated with West Coast Hip Hop. The talk box effect and infectious beat will have you embracing the California lifestyle in no time.
The song begins with Argos proclaiming his decision to move to Los Angeles, convinced that his life will drastically change and his dreams will come true simply by being in the city known for its entertainment industry. Don’t let the playful mocking of the clichés associated with the pursuit of stardom in LA get you down, though. It’s always good to have a laugh and some self-awareness.
Lana Del Rey's haunting vocals perfectly capture the hazy and cinematic quality of Los Angeles. The constant tempo shifts will make you feel like you’re the main character in your own Old Hollywood film.
A true anthem of the Golden State, "Hotel California" captivates listeners with great storytelling. It addresses the cycle of excess and disillusion many come to learn about the Hollywood lifestyle. It’s also hard to deny yourself from a great guitar solo, on Guitar Hero or through your car speakers.
A timeless 60s classic that evokes nostalgia and longing for a city that many might not have ever visited. It’s hard to explain the feeling of being homesick, but The Mamas & The Papas somehow nail it. And who knows, maybe now you’ll be a fan of 60s folk-rock.
Now that we’ve covered the exciting feeling of downtown LA and the mystery of Hollywood, it’s time to take a trip to the beach. This breezy pop record marked a shift in Cyrus’s discography. It doubles as a love song to a significant other and a love letter to the carefree spirit of Southern California.
We can’t take a trip to the beach without a classic from the band that originated the iconic “beachy” sound. The song celebrates the sun-kissed beauty of California girls, but don’t worry — East Coast, Southern, and Midwestern girls still get a shoutout.
We’ll slow down for a minute to enjoy the piano ballad that won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Original Song. It’s a tender and heartfelt duet about dreams, love, and pursuing your aspirations. Although it’s not the only song about Los Angeles on the soundtrack, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s live vocals are worth the listen.
We’ll leave you with this hopeful anthem about following your dreams in the face of self-doubt and hardship. The uplifting lyrics always seem to resonate like the first time you heard them. Jared Leto’s voice will give you chills as you set off to begin your new adventure.
As you embark on your journey to the vibrant city of Los Angeles, we hope this playlist can inspire you to explore all the city has to offer. Throw on your sunglasses, roll down your windows, and find out for yourself what makes Los Angeles so special. Make sure you follow Ori on Spotify for some more fun playlists about our favorite cities across the US and Canada.
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