California is one of the biggest states in the country and has a lot to offer, from entertainment to nature. We all know that California is not a place that you just visit for the sake of it. The state’s culture is a whole vibe, an experience that everyone must live and feel for themselves.
Once you have been to California, you will definitely want to go back for more. It’s not surprise that various artists have tried to encapsulate their feelings and emotions about California in their music which helps you reminisce about the place.
Here are the ten best songs about California that you must add to your playlist.
Song # 1: California Gurls by Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s California Gurls is a response to Alicia Key’s famous song about New York City ‘The Empire State of Mind’.
This song focuses on how amazing the girls in California are and all they have to offer. This picture is clearly depicted in the amusingly colorful music video of the song.
According to Katy Perry, the girls in California are not easy to forget or get off your mind. Once you have hung out with them, they leave you in a state of trance you cannot come out of easily.
Song # 2: Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers
If you are making a playlist on songs about California, this song definitely has to be a part of it.
Red Hot Chili Peppers is one of the most renowned bands in the world, with their song ‘Californication’ playing a huge role in adding their name to the hall of fame.
Californication is a song about the direction society is taking by focusing on shallow and materialistic things. These characteristics are portrayed as the reasons society is declining. Red Hot Chili Peppers portray the role that California, especially Hollywood, plays in romanticising the extravagant way of life in the media.
The distorted perception of life created by people stems from such unrealistic lifestyles portrayed in the media.
Song # 3: California Love by Tupac
In this song, Tupac expresses his love for California and everything he appreciates in the state.
He emphasizes all the prominent features of California, such as the palm trees, beautiful weather, and the free-spirited girls.
Apart from shining light on this beautiful state, he also expresses the need for people to acknowledge the many good things about California. He stresses that people should talk more about the good things California has to offer more.
Song # 4: California Girls by Beach Boys
As the name suggests, this song appreciates Californian girls among other things.
From the outdoorsy opportunities to the high life that celebrities enjoy and everything in between, this song celebrates all that California is. This song was the theme song for ‘California’s First Beach Boys.’
It mentions the culture of adventurous activities prevalent in the Californian lifestyle, such as skateboarding and surfing. This song is a particular relic for modern day Californians as it captures the soul of the state when it thrived during the 60s!
Song # 5: Hotel California by The Eagles
It is impossible to complete a ‘California songs playlist’ without paying homage to this classic love ballad.
‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles highlights the things that happen in California and how they mean different things to different people.
It discusses materialism and extravagances that Californians enjoy and how they impact them. Overall, it touches on the dark side of the state and the rampant substance abuse and indulgence in vain things.
The song points out how these things mean different things to different people based on how they change their lives.
Song # 6: California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & the Papas
If you are a fan of pop music fused with some classic tunes, California Dreamin’ will definitely pique your interest. One unique thing about this song is its music because it includes a flute solo in a pop song.
Another thing that makes it stand out is its outright comparison of life in California with other states such as New York.
The song discusses the beauty of life in California and how it it’s more sublime compared to other states and its people. The lyrics cover the stark difference in climate is one of the significant points of comparison for this song as well.
Song # 7: Hollywood by Madonna
Knowing how famous Madonna is, it doesn’t get any better to hear all about the fame that Hollywood offers right from her.
Madonna talks about all the riches Hollywood promises and delivers. She asks, ‘How could it hurt you when it looks so good?’ referring to the real estate, jewelry, and cars that one can get hold of by being involved in Hollywood.
This songalso gives a sense of comfort to the listeners as it is Madonna’s first-hand account of the goodness of Hollywood.
We have to give it to the Hollywood queen, Madonna, for celebrating the love for this city so beautifully through this song!
Song # 8: San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie
The iconic song that became an anthem is an ode to the magical city by the bay. The song highlights the kind and gentle people of the city.
It reassures the listener about the everything that the city offers. It makes you look forward to going to San Francisco and enjoying its laid-back and mesmerizing persona.
The huge influx of young people in San Francisco was credited to this song back in the day.
Song # 9: LA Woman by The Doors
Everyone knows about the crazy traffic in southern California. This song is all about the mad traffic and the madder driving skills it accompanies.
The song is dedicated to driving madly on the freeway and how it gets to you so fast. The singer says that it is effortless to lose one’s mind in the city, especially when surrounded by equally crazy people.
This song again shines a light on the two polarizing sides of LA – the dark side of the ghettos and the shiny made-up side.
Song # 10: I Love LA by Randy Newman
For a long time, this famous song has been used as the anthem by the most popular basketball team in California – LA Lakers.
As expected, the song describes all the good things about LA. Randy Newman has poured his heart out in this song to confess his love for the city.
He talks about all the things he loves about these neighborhoods. Even though the song was released in the 80s, it is still very relevant, especially in the sports world.
The Bottom Line
We hope you enjoyed taking this virtual trip to California with our list of ‘top 10 songs about california.’
Each song brings something unique about California to the table, including its culture, natural beauty, free-spiritedness, and even the dark side of the Cali lifestyle. If you want in on what the hype about California is, these songs are for you!
Have more to add to the list? Please feel free to share your favorite California-themed songs in the comments section below.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.