23 Songs From 'The O.C.' That Will Take You Right Back To Summer In '00s California

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The O.C. played an integral role in the shaping the early 2000s. Immediately after it premiered in 2003, it became a cultural phenomenon; not only did its drama captivate viewers, but The O.C. featured the best songs that helped set the show's often moody tone. Because The O.C. became such an instant hit, many of the artists featured on its soundtrack did too. Certain bands like Death Cab For Cutie reached millions of people thanks to The O.C., or more specifically, thanks to Seth Cohen, the comic book nerd with a penchant for alt-rock.

Not only didThe O.C. have a major influence on early 2000s culture — the reality show Laguna Beach was pitched as the real life O.C., according to Time — but the soundtrack did too. Part of what makes the music from the show so memorable is the way certain dramatic scenes depended on dramatic music to set the tone. The O.C. was undeniably melodramatic, and the somber indie tunes made already sad scenes even more emotionally impactful.

Of course, there were also plenty of upbeat alt-rock songs to match Seth, Summer, Marissa, and Ryan's youthful excitement too. But if you look back at some of the most memorable tracks from The O.C., you'll probably notice that even the most upbeat songs aren't necessarily happy-go-lucky.

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1"California" By Phantom Planet

PhantomPlanetVEVO on YouTube

"California" is the most quintessential song from The O.C., since it played at the beginning of every episode.

2"Hide And Seek" By Imogen Heap


One of the most memorable moments and songs came from the scene when Marissa shot Trey. It was so haunting that it even inspired The Lonely Island to make an SNL digital short parodying it.

3"A Movie Script Ending" By Death Cab For Cutie

Warner Bros./YouTube

Seth Cohen's undying love for Death Cab for Cutie became an important character trait throughout the show and he made that clear when he warned Summer, "Do not insult Death Cab." Meanwhile, the song "A Movie Script Ending" played in the car.

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4"Something Pretty" By Patrick Park

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Everyone who watched The O.C. probably listened to "Something Pretty" for years after it played on the show, just to re-live the moment when Seth and Summer had their theatrical first kiss.

5"Hallelujah" By Jeff Buckley

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The biggest twist that The O.C. took happened when Marissa died in a car accident. Jeff Buckley's classic, "Hallelujah," was a perfectly melancholic song to play in the dramatic scene.

6"I'm Shakin" By Rooney

Warner Bros./YouTube

Who could forget the romantic moment when Marissa left Oliver to be with Ryan at a Rooney concert? Meanwhile, Seth was being a good wingman, as per usual.

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7"Float On" By Goldspot


Modest Mouse's "Float On" was an iconic early 2000s song, and the Goldspot cover that The O.C. featured became an instant classic.

8"Orange Sky" By Alexi Murdoch

Warner Bros./YouTube

After Ryan and Marissa visited Trey, the bittersweet Murdoch song played in the background while they drove home together and became closer to each other. Sigh, so romantic.

9"Fix You" By Coldplay

Coldplay on YouTube

When you think of prom, you might not expect "Fix You" to be a song that plays at the dance, but that's not so in the ever dramatic lives of Seth, Summer, Marissa, and Ryan.

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10"We Used To Be Friends" By The Dandy Warhols

TheDandyWarholsVEVO on YouTube

This song totally captured the vibe of the laid back Southern California setting of The O.C. Even if you lived in Pennsylvania, you could listen to it and pretend you were one of the "core four."

11"The West Coast" By Coconut Records

Warner Bros./YouTube

This song set to a scene in which Taylor imagined that Ryan had come to her rescue, which everyone in the early 2000s also did at one point or another.

12"How Good It Can Be" By The 88

The 88 - Topic on YouTube

The 88's song played during Ryan's first day of school on The O.C.

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13"Forever Young" By Youth Group

Warner Bros/YouTube

The song that played during just one of Ryan and Marissa's many break ups. As always, it fit the dramatic tone of the show.

14"Wonderwall" By Ryan Adams

BestoftheOC on YouTube

Yet another of Ryan and Marissa's break ups took place to Ryan Adams' moody cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall."

15"Champagne Supernova" By Matt Pond


The most perfect TV kiss between Summer and Seth took place set to the Matt Pond song. They recreated the Spider Man kiss and it was even better than the superhero version.

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16"Dice" By Finley Quaye

Warner Bros./YouTube

After Ryan first didn't know what to say when Marissa told him she loved him, he made up for it by running up the stairs to profess his feelings for her right at midnight on New Year's Eve. Finley Quaye's "Dice" was the perfect background song.

17"Honey And The Moon" By Joseph Arthur


After Sandy brought Ryan back to Chino, "Honey And The Moon" played as everyone watching cried. It was a big tear-jerker moment.

18"Blue Light" By Bloc Party

Warner Bros./YouTube

Ryan's brother, Trey, snuck out of town again, but this time he had the support of Sandy — who drove him to the bus stop — and Marissa. Talk about bittersweet.

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19"If You Leave" By Nada Surf

Warner Bros./YouTube

Another memorable goodbye from The O.C. was set to Nada Surf's "If You Leave." This one, between Seth and Anna, wasn't so dramatic.

20"Speeding Cars" By Imogen Heap

Warner Bros./YouTube

After a ridiculously eventful four years in high school, the "core four" and their friends graduated to "Speeding Cars."

21"Smile Like You Mean It" By The Killers

Warner Bros./YouTube

Seth and Ryan went on a double blind date with Lindsay and Alex to a Killer's concert, and things became even more awkward when Summer and Marissa showed up. The Killers played "Smile Like You Mean It" and "Mr. Brightside," and it's definitely one of the best early 2000s TV moments.

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22"Into Dust" By Mazzy Star

Warner Bros./YouTube

This soft tune played as Ryan helped a drunken Marissa for the first of many times on the show.

23"The Sound Of Settling" By Death Cab For Cutie

Warner Bros./YouTube

The O.C. wouldn't be complete without a Death Cab performance, and ironically enough, Cohen missed most of it.

The music of The O.C. played such an important role in the show, and if you can't re-watch all of the seasons right now, you should at least re-listen to the great songs.

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