21 Songs About Los Angeles (2023)

When thinking of Los Angeles, one might envision pleasant weather, iconic landmarks like Hollywood and the Griffith Observatory, etc, and a diverse mix of cultures. The name “Los Angeles” comes from the Spanish language, meaning “City of Angels,” which is fitting given the city’s reputation as a hub for aspiring entertainers and globally renowned musicians. It’s no surprise that many memorable songs have been inspired by or written about Los Angeles.

To learn more about these songs, check out the list below featuring the 21 best songs about Los Angeles.

21. Los Angeles, I’m Yours — The Decemberists

We should start our trip to LA with The Decemberists’ “Los Angeles, I’m Yours.” The hooking instrumentals at the song’s outset are guaranteed to put you in a good mood. The melody of this indie-folk track is interesting to listen to, as are the emotive vocals. Her Majesty the Decemberists, which was released in 2003, released “Los Angeles, I’m Yours,” which is an ode to Los Angeles.

20. Los Angeles Is Burning — Bad Religion

The rock band Bad Religion is here to join us! From their album The Empire Strikes First comes “Los Angeles is Burning.” It opens with heavy drum rolls, and the lead vocalist, Greg Graffin, will captivate you with his voice as he sings the lines full of attitude. It is a rock song with brilliant lyrics, impressive instrumentation, and an appealing arrangement that you must listen to.

19. Santa Monica — Everclear

“Santa Monica,” a city in Los Angeles County, is the name of a song from the 1990s recorded by the band Everclear. Their album Sparkle and Fade features this rock tune. You’ll find both joy and solace in the uplifting music. It’s the ideal song to express our need for some adventures for our mental health, as in the line, “I just wanna see some palm trees. I will try and shake away this disease.”

18. L.A. Freeway — Jerry Jeff Walker

“L.A. Freeway” is a folk piece by the artist Jerry Jeff Walker. This song will make you long for the people and places you’ve had to leave behind.  This country song was released in 1972 on Jerry’s self-titled album. Because he is speaking from his own experience, he is able to infuse each line with passion and impact.

17. Back in L.A. — B.B. King

Another timeless track from the same year, “Back in L.A.” can be found on B.B. King’s album titled “There Is Always One More Time.” Playing this blues song, with its relaxing ambiance and pleasant tempo, will give you a taste of what it’s like to live in the City of Angels.

16. California Dreamin’ — The Mamas & the Papas

Do you know of any songs that can make you experience every season at once? The Mamas and the Papas, a folk rock vocal group, has a song called “California Dreamin'” that you might like. Since the group was formed in sunny Southern California, you could say they speak from experience. It’s a happy, upbeat pop song, and the album’s title track. They have such beautiful voices, and the way they blend together is a delight to listen to.

15. California Stars —  Billy Bragg and Wilco

If you are feeling weary and exhausted, it will help to indulge in the song “California Stars.” It is a folk masterpiece by Billy Bragg and Wilco. No matter where you are and what you’re doing, you will imagine yourself lying on a rooftop, gazing at the starry night, and feeling the cold wind brush through your skin. That is the beauty and serenity this song from the Mermaid Avenue album can bring.

14. Going Back to Cali — LL Cool J

LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” is a great example of how classics never go out of style. American rapper LL Cool J was only 18 when he dropped this dope beat in 1987. Moreover, this groovy song from Less than Zero got a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance nomination. The originality and creativity of this hip-hop song are something you will never hear from other tracks.

13. Valley Girl — Frank Zappa and Moon Zappa

Ever heard of Valley Talk? It is a dialect spoken by women from Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. In Frank Zappa’s song “Valley Girl,” you will hear Moon’s voice, his daughter, mimicking the valley talk. Hence, Frank is referring to his then-14-year-old daughter as the “Valley Girl.” Frank’s genius way of producing songs is evident in this entertaining single from his Valley Girl album.

12. Los Angeles  — Blink-182

The rock band Blink-182 is another pride of California. In their alternative rock song “Los Angeles” from their 2016 album, California, they sing lines in reference to the demolition of the Sixth Street bridge, an important landmark in L.A. This rock song’s hooky melody and creative lyrics make for an enjoyable listening experience and proof of how amazing the band Blink-182 is.

11. The Only Place  — Best Coast

Need a tune for your summer break? Try out “The One and Only Place”! Best Coast recorded the song in 2012, and it serves as the album’s title track. It’s a vibrant summer tune guaranteed to brighten anyone’s state of mind. The song’s alternative style and Bethany’s voice make you long for a warm, sandy beach.

10. Why You’d Want to Live Here — Death Cab for Cutie

A song about Los Angeles’s flaws stands out as an outlier on this playlist. Death Cab for Cutie’s “Why You’d Want to Live Here” is an indie rock song that opens with the lyrics, “I’m in Los Angeles today; it smells like an airport runway, jet fuel.” From their album titled “The Photo Album,” the brilliant use of imagery in this song is immediately apparent.

9. Electrolite R.E.M.

“Electrolite” by R.E.M. has a beautiful harmony all the way through. It’s on New Adventures in Hi-Fi, which was released in 1996. Something about the arrangement of this indie track is soothing and nostalgic. The profound lyrics, talking about Los Angeles’ city lights shining at night, will leave you emotional.

8. Free Fallin’ — Tom Petty

Tom Petty included a track titled “Free Fallin'” on his Full Moon Fever album. The song’s lyrics describe how bad he feels about himself for not missing a woman despite all the good things he could say about her. It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and fits into the rock-folk category. You can’t help but associate it with Los Angeles, as the music video follows a young woman as she travels around the city.

7. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings — Father John Misty

Father John Misty is an American multi-talented musical artist who released the indie song “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings.” Its song title is a reference to a real cemetery in Los Angeles called Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Basically, this song depicts emotional struggles and unresolved traumas. This track from Fear Fun will stir your emotions as it tackles depression.

6. Sunset People — Donna Summer

Let’s get the party started again by dancing slowly to the beat of “Sunset People,” which is a disco song by Donna Summer. This track from Bad Girls will charm you while you play it due to its irresistible rhythms and Donna’s voice, which sounds sweet like honey. It is a celebration of the sights and sounds of the city at sundown.

5. Going Back to Cali — The Notorious B.I.G

The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Going Back to Cali” has a retro rhythm that will get the party started. With this track, he cemented his place in hip-hop history as a pioneering artist. You’ll be bopping your head to the beat of the chorus’ repeated lines. Life After Death, his final album, was released in 1997, the same year he passed away. “Going Back to Cali” is featured on this record.

4. I Left My Wallet in El Segundo — A Tribe Called Quest

Next up is “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” which is a Californian city. This track was dropped by A Tribe Called Quest, a hip-hop group known for their artistic rap songs in the ’90s. You will surely enjoy and chill while listening to this old-school hip-hop on People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. 

3. Wannabe in L.A. — Eagles of Death Metal

Listening to Eagles of Death Metal perform this indie rock song will make you long to be in Los Angeles, too. From the 2004 album Heart On (Deluxe Edition), this song is titled “Wannabe in L.A.” Playing this song will bring back a flood of happy, childhood memories. It clocks in at just over two minutes and has a soothing melody and enthusiastic lyrics.

2. I Love L.A. —Randy Newman

New York 1988 – Live American Radio Broadcast (Live) is the title of the album released by Randy Newman. The song “I Love L.A.” is one of many fantastic tracks on it. The tune starts off slow but builds into something much more upbeat and funky. The song’s theme is a preference for Los Angeles over other well-known cities. This tune is perfect for jamming out with your pals in the car.

1. City of Angels — The Distillers

Our trip’s end has come at last. The Distillers’ “City of Angels” rounds out our list of excellent songs about Los Angeles. Brody’s smokin’ vocals, the song’s heavy yet attractive instrumentation, and the cleverness of its lyrics combine to make this track an absolute banger. This alternative rock song was made available through the album Sing Sing Death House, which was recently released in 2022.

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