If iconic locations can inspire artistic majesty, then the City of Angels is pure magic. Few cities have inspired more songs about their wonders. From old school rockers to modern rappers, song mavens in all genres pay tribute to Los Angeles.
These nine songs celebrate everything that makes LA unique. If it’s cold and snowy where you’re located, put in your earbuds, turn up the volume and escape with some California dreaming.
1. Snoop Dogg — “El Lay”
The D-O-Double-G lends his signature voice to this tribute to all things City of Angels. In his rap, he lists the championship sports teams like the Dodgers and the Clippers that bring the hometown pride. He sings praises to the Strip, which you have to explore in a low-rider car. Of course, he gives the nod to the state’s legal cannabis status as well.
2. Jan and Dean “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”
If you want to get where you’re going in the City of Angels, you need to learn to drive aggressively. LA is famous for many things — but an easy-to-navigate freeway system isn’t one of them. Fortunately, a lead foot knows no age, as the oldies legends Jan and Dean make clear in their classic song. Tune in and imagine the wind in your hair as you cruise down the 101 in your convertible.
3. Everclear — “Santa Monica”
If you’re going to live beside the ocean, you can’t get much closer than LA. Whether or not you swim out past the breakers, kick back with this upbeat tune from Everclear the next time you find yourself fantasizing about a fresh start.
4. 2Pac — “California Love”
You hear this song played at the beginning of athletic matches and during television commercials, and with good reason — the song highlights the city’s signature style with its laid-back beat. Chances are, you can name this tune from two or three notes of the opening riff.
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Under the Bridge”
Like people, each city has a unique personality all its own. Yes, the place where you live can feel like your only friend, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing of LA. Life in a big city can seem chaotic and lonely sometimes, but the West Coast gets you out in the warm sunshine, where you’re sure to find your tribe. Jam out as you imagine yourself strolling the streets of Hollywood after midnight.
6. L.L. Cool J. — “Going Back to Cali”
If you’re dreaming of bikini-clad beauties on the beach, you can get in the mood for fun and sun with this tune. Whether you want to sweat it up dancing at the club or relax beachside while rubbing suntan lotion on your loved one, you’ll pay homage to both in this jam. Isn’t it high time you booked a trip back to your favorite city in California? What are you waiting for?
7. Sheryl Crow — “All I Wanna Do”
Since Hollywood is located in LA, the city gets a superficial rap. You might think Sheryl Crow pays homage to slacker culture in “All I Wanna Do,” but in reality, the residents of the town receive renown for their generosity. Did you know residents of the area donate 3% of their income to charity on average? Still, you must let loose sometime, so if you want to drink beer at noon on a Tuesday, you’re in the right town!
8. The Mamas and the Papas — “California Dreaming”
Are all the leaves brown where you live — perhaps the sky is gray? If you’ve got the winter blues, escape to the sunny California coast with this tribute by the Mamas and the Papas. Bear in mind — it is safe and warm in LA! Maybe jamming out to this song will inspire you to book a plane ticket? Whether you make it a round trip or one-way deal is up to you.
9. Cheech and Chong — “Born in East LA”
Few people will say that the City of Angels lacks a lighthearted and fun side. Comedic legends Cheech and Chong spin this parody to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” As the battle over immigration heats up, take a step back for comic relief with this jam. Remember — a deep belly laugh tones your abs and burns calories, so you’ll fit into that swimsuit before you hit the beach.
Songs That Don’t Get It Wrong About the City of Angels
Maybe you can’t escape from your work desk. However, if you have a phone and earbuds, you can flee the cold and head to the City of Angels in your mind with these tunes.