Famous Songs About Los Angeles: Experiencing the City Through Music

Los Angeles songs
Here’s my list of Los Angeles songs that popped into my head on my last visit to L.A.

What are the best songs about Los Angeles? Great songs about the city seem to cover all genres, from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” to Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” to NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton.”

Let’s go over some of the songs that always play in my head whenever I visit Los Angeles, followed by a longer playlist of L.A. songs. Feel free to leave a comment with your own favorites!

Personal Favorite Los Angeles Songs From My Recent L.A. Visit

Let’s start with some of the songs about Los Angeles which pop into my head every time I visit the city.

“I Love L.A.,” Randy Newman

I arrive at the airport and begin hearing Randy Newman’s classic song in my head.

Arriving from frigid Chicago, I’m intoxicated by the sun, the palm trees, the overall atmosphere, as I hear Newman’s words, “Look at that mountain, look at those trees / Look at that bum over there, man / He’s down on his knees / Look at these women, there ain’t nothin’ like ‘em nowhere.”

“Santa Monica (Watch the World Die),” Everclear

My friend Jason and I drive from Venice Beach towards Santa Monica to check out the pier and the beach. On the walk there, I see several interesting sights that make LA beaches fun.

A dreadlocked, shirtless white hippie dude mills around. Another guy offers tourists the chance to pose with his three parrots (for a fee, of course). Two of the scariest-looking punk dudes you’d ever see lovingly hold hands. A girl with freakishly huge gauged ears confidently strolls past.

Watching the waves, the surfers, the kids playing in the sand, I can’t stop humming the popular Everclear song with the chorus about living beside the ocean and swimming out past the breakers.

“Venice B*tch,” Lana Del Rey

You could make an entire playlist of Lana Del Rey songs about Los Angeles. Her dreamy soundscapes often include tales of California life.

This song is a fun play on words in which Del Rey sings, “It’s me, your little Venice b*tch.” It’s a 10-minute track that gets experimental at the end with soaring electronics and roaring guitars that you don’t often hear in Del Rey’s music.

Other Lana songs that reference California include “Hollywood Bowl,” “Bel Air,” “California,” and “West Coast.”

“Screenwriter’s Blues,” Soul Coughing

This stream-of-consciousness song includes a number of quirky observations about LA. When I see a city bus roll past, I’m reminded of the lyric, “Los Angeles beckons the teenagers to come to her on buses… Los Angeles loves love!”

Frontman Mike Doughty is an incredibly talented wordsmith. The song also touches on LA radio stations, aspiring screenwriters and the big movie studios.

“Ocean Avenue,” Yellowcard

This song was actually written about the Ocean Avenue in Jacksonville, but that’s why music is great – listeners can interpret songs however they want. For me, it’s associated with the Ocean Avenue in LA.

As I cross Ocean Avenue to head to Santa Monica Beach, this song gets stuck in my head. And that’s a good thing, because the youthful energy of the song is the perfect soundtrack for the beach.

This song is catchy as hell, and it has that electric violin riff at the end that is just awesome.

“All I Wanna Do,” Sheryl Crow

We leave the beach and proceed down Santa Monica towards my friend’s house. I can’t ever see a street sign for Santa Monica Blvd. without having Sheryl Crow immediately launch herself into my brain.

And when she does, she simply won’t go away. But that’s ok – her ode to the crazy people of the city of angels is catchy and fun. And you have to sing along with, “Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard.”

“Beverly Hills,” Weezer

As we continue to drive toward my host’s house, we pass through Beverly Hills, and I begin singing in my head, “Beverly Hills… that’s where I want to be!”

Weezer’s always been one of my favorite bands, and “Beverly Hills” was one of their best songs.

Since I spend a lot of time walking through the neighborhood on largely-unsuccessful celebrity-hunting expeditions, this song spends a lot of time in my brain whenever I visit LA.

The music video was even shot at the Playboy Mansion with Hef’s approval, and he appears in the video.

“Hollywood,” Madonna

We finally arrive at my host’s apartment in glitzy Hollywood. There are a million songs about Hollywood, but the Madonna track is the one that sticks in my head, probably because it came out not long before I made my first visit to the city.

It’s from her criminally underappreciated album American Life. Madonna sings that “Everybody comes to Hollywood,” and that sounds about right to me.

Other Songs About Los Angeles: A Full Playlist

That’s the great thing about LA – there’s seemingly a song for every sight. The tunes above were just the ones that popped into my music-obsessed mind during a single day driving throughout the city, but there are numerous other Los Angeles songs.

Here’s a sampling of my favorites:

“Malibu” by Hole
“Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
“California Love” by Dr. Dre & 2Pac
‘LA Woman” by the Doors
“In-N-Out (Animal Style)” by We the Kings
“Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger
“Free Fallin” by Tom Petty
“Goodnight LA” by Counting Crows
“A Sorta Fairytale” by Tori Amos
“Back in LA” by BB King
“California” by Rufus Wainwright
“California” by Phantom Planet
“City of Angels” by Miguel
“Straight Outta Compton” by NWA
“Another Nice Day in LA” by Eddie Money
“California Dreamin” by the Mamas & the Papas
“Going Back to Cali” by LL Cool J
“Deez Hollywood Nights” by Snoop Dogg
“Dying in LA” by Panic! at the Disco
“Hollywood Tonight” by Michael Jackson
“La La Land” by Demi Lovato
“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus
“To Live and Die in LA” by Wang Chung

For the completist, there are literally hundreds more songs about Los Angeles.

And don’t forget to check out my playlist of great driving songs from road trips and traveling.

For more on the city, see my articles about hiking in the Hollywood Hills, the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles, visiting the Madame Tussauds wax museum in Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe’s grave site, and how to visit Los Angeles without a vehicle.

Do you have a favorite Los Angeles / California song?