Can We All Give It Up For The OC Soundtrack???


Written by Jack Blocker
25 Tuesday 25th November 2014

If you had the good fortune to come of age in the mid-2000s, when the political landscape was shaped by post 9/11 American aggrandising, and its cultural counterpart by attractive white people, then you probably spent a lot of time watching the perfect mixture of both, The OC. Marissa, Seth, Ryan, Sandy Cohen, Mischa Barton - it’s like they were family! And I was their uglier, acne-ridden step-son that lived in England who they didn’t talk to. I love them all! :P

A PR recently sent me a new video by a guy called Taylor Locke, titled Running Away From Love and billed as the 'video of the year':

Like you, this initially meant nothing to me. Plus, the track kind of sounds like it was written around the fire at a Mormon summer camp, so I wasn't really feeling it. However, I discovered that Taylor was actually the guitarist in Rooney, who you may remember as the first band to make an appearance on The OC. Check it out!

As you can see, Rooney was basically the Hollister generation’s Ramones, meaning they functioned as the perfect sonic compliment to the vapid struggle of wealthy teens. Or more specifically, to the image of Ryan, butthurt as hell, scolding Mischa for curving some nerd at the club for the first of 390298300298 times. This got me thinking, how did we tolerate a show that essentially spent four seasons protracting the love affair of two fairly tedious characters? Because of the great soundtrack of course!

With this in mind, I decided to look back at the litany of bands who were part of the extremely influential ORANGECOUNTYCORE scene.

Phantom Planet

Phantom Planet was responsible for the show’s famous theme song, California. Back when I was at school, it was the only acceptable non-R&B track among the cool kids (along with the theme song of One Tree Hill). This stoked many internal conflicts within gross Myspace emos like myself. The vocals featured the extended vowels and irritating inflections of the entire Warped Tour lineup, but my socially competent peers were jamming it at house parties I wasn’t invited to!!?! What do?!

It seems that any song featured on The OC received mainstream approval, spoon-feeding an entire generation a bland Indie soup in a way unmatched by today’s platforms. Seeing as the internet has nullified such tastemaking behemoths, let's cherish a few more jams from the show before another Soundcloud link distracts us!

Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab was Seth Cohen’s fave band. He mentioned them in every episode, usually as a way to impress Rachel Bilson (I think her character’s name was Summer). Back then, Ben Gibbard and his pals were a one way ticket to the Boneyard. But in this day and age, chirpsing your current crush with an advanced knowledge of Transatlanticism will leave you so un-laid you'll forget which sex you actually are:

Seriously, I've never heard such a herbivorous, banal dirge. It's pitiful. But ten years ago, this track made youngsters fall in love with one another, then it suspended a million crestfallen hearts when those youngsters broke up. I mean look at the YouTube comments:

My butt is in agony! BRB gonna go listen to the Christmas album Ben Gibbard made with Zooey Deschanel!! :'-)

The Walkmen

I'm not sure The Walkmen even existed outside of The OC. Kinda like the house band on Letterman. Or Mischa Barton's career (ayyoooo)

Bloc Party

It's probably still the case, but in 2004 most yanks considered Bloc Party 'this cool little Indie band from England.' The fact they had a black singer and weren't a rap crew only expedited the blowing of America's collective mind. We all know the tracks, so I'm going to include a scene where Kele and co's Kreuzberg plays in the background instead:

LOL wtf is going on? Ryan is in hospital but Sandy is talking about the health of some baby that was born elsewhere. And then there's a rabbit. You guys can keep your Sopranos and Wires, I'm heading back to Newport Beach!

Modest Mouse

It might be a little cruel to lump Modest Mouse in with these other bands, as they were already critically lauded Indie darlings. But they were mucky, parochial rascals who made grubby, cacophonous rock. If Phantom Planet cruised along the 101 to buy margaritas in Hollywood, MM rattled down the I-90 to score meth on a reservation. 

Obscenely long song title = 10/10 on Pitchfork

That all changed when they released Good News For People Who Love Bad News, a MNSTRM hit machine that featured heavily on The OC. And I was all for it. Sure, I enjoy listening to Truckers Atlas for 11 minutes, but I do it on my own time. If I don't want people to think I'm a rain-soaked simpleton who potentially huffs paint, I bump Paper Thin Walls like Marissa and the gang! <3

Alexi Murdoch

Orange Sky, by Alexi Murdoch, is perhaps the most crucial jam in the OC canon. While it played during a scene where Ryan gets sent back to borstal or something, it also featured in Garden State, Zach Braff's sentimental opus to a region desperate for Snooki to vomit on it. Wonderfully, Zach Braff couldn't include the song on his debut film's OST because Fox owned the rights to it. 10/10 hands down my top licensing dispute in US legal history.

Imogen Heap

Fast forward to 2:27 for perhaps the most EPIC drop in TV history

Imogen Heap's love-sick anthem was blessed by an incredibly clutch Jason Derulo remix back in '09. It even made me forget about Marissa killing Trey!


Jeff Buckley

Much like apotheosised sexual relations and Shrek, The OC will forever be remembered for its link to Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley's classic cover of Leonard Cohen's track, first played when Ryan was sent back to Chino at the end of season one. Never really understood why they all got so sad about it. It's only about an hour's drive and they all had cars. Oh well nvm.

While many have moved on, I'm sure this track still brings a tear to the eye of the loyal. Like this person:

I hope you like shows about cocaine addiction and bankruptcy!

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.