There’s just something about California that inspires music.
From the surfers and beaches of the coast to the mountains and forests in the interior, California is a land of natural beauty and endless potential.
Musicians have captured this spirit in their songs for decades, creating anthems about California that are both nostalgic and hopeful.
Here are 20 of the best songs about California. Enjoy!By the way, if you’re searching for more like songs about california, check out our articles on country songs about the beach, songs about astronauts, songs about hills, songs about katy perry, and songs about los angeles.
California Gurls – Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg
California Gurls is one of the most iconic songs of the past decade.
Penned by Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, it captures the California lifestyle perfectly with its bold lyrics and upbeat beat.
This feel-good anthem paints a picture of a carefree world filled with sun, sand, surf, and plenty of good times.
While the song helped to launch Katy Perry’s career, it also became an instant classic among listeners of all ages.
Today, it continues to be one of the most popular songs in the world, due in large part to its universal subject matter that perfectly captures the essence of summertime fun.
Whether you’re lounging on the beach or hanging out at your favorite barbeque spot, California Gurls is sure to put you in a great mood every time!
Going to California – Led Zeppelin
“Going to California” is a song by the rock band Led Zeppelin, and it is one of their most well-known and loved tracks.
With its laid-back guitar riffs and gentle, bluesy feel, the song perfectly captures the peaceful mood of a journey across America to the state of California.
The lyrics also reflect this sense of wonder and exploration, describing all of the beautiful sights that one might see on such a trip: rocky mountaintops, deep canyons, vast deserts, sparkling streams.
Indeed, the image of California that emerges in “Going to California” is one of endless vistas and new discoveries, making it an ideal travel companion for any traveler looking to experience all that the Golden State has to offer.
California Love – TuPac featuring Dr. Dre
California Love is one of the most iconic songs in hip-hop history.
A collaboration between two of the biggest names in the genre, this track tells the story of California through powerful lyrics and gritty beats.
Driven by dynamic rhymes and rugged drum lines, California Love perfectly captures the energy and grit of this iconic West Coast state.
Whether you love its beachside glamour or its bustling cities, you can hear its influence in every line of this dynamic track.
From its pulsing electronic intro to its singalong hook, California Love is a must-hear for any hip-hop fan.
So if you want to feel like you’re living la vida loca, just crank up this legendary song and soak in all that California has to offer.
California Sun – The Ramones
California Sun is a classic rock song by the punk rock band The Ramones.
The song was first released in 1978 and quickly became a hit with audiences across the country.
It is known for its fun and energetic feel, with pulsing rhythms and thunderous guitar riffs that immediately captivate listeners.
Through catchy lyrics about living in California and enjoying sun-soaked days on the beach, the song perfectly captures the carefree attitude of youth, making it an enduring favorite among music fans of all ages.
Whether you want to jam out to some old-school tunes or relive your own memories of childhood summers, California Sun is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
So grab your sunglasses and crank up this iconic track today!
Hotel California – The Eagles
The song “Hotel California” by The Eagles is one of the most influential rock songs of all time.
With its powerful guitar riffs, sweeping melodies, and memorable lyrics, this iconic track quickly became a radio hit upon its release in 1976.
Many music critics have speculated about the meaning behind the mysterious lyrics, but it remains one of The Eagles’ most popular songs to this day.
Whether you’re a fan of classic rock or just enjoying some great tunes, “Hotel California” will always be a classic that must be heard at least once.
So if you’re ready for an unforgettable listening experience, then check out this legendary song and be prepared to get hooked!
California Soul – Marlena Shaw
California Soul is a funky, upbeat track by soul singer Marlena Shaw that captures the essence of the Golden State.
Set to a sparse, syncopated beat, the song lays out the unique cultural landscape of California and draws upon many different musical styles to describe it.
Elements of jazz and R&B meld with hints of funk and disco to create a sound that is simultaneously laid-back and dance-worthy.
On top of this vibrant backing track, Shaw weaves her signature sultry vocals to create an irresistible groove that perfectly encapsulates the California vibe.
Whether you’re listening in LA or Berlin, California Soul will leave you ready to hit the open road and explore all that this amazing state has to offer.
Beverly Hills – Weezer
Beverly Hills by Weezer, is a classic rock song that tells the story of a day in the life of a typical teenager living in LA.
With its upbeat tempo and catchy refrain, it quickly became a hit when it was released back in 2005.
The song starts with the narrator glumly describing his mundane suburban existence, but as he cruises around town to the sounds of 80s hair-metal on his car stereo, he begins to see himself in a more positive light.
He transforms from an introverted nobody into someone who exudes confidence and can affirm that “life looks so much brighter through these tinted windows.”
Whether you’re an aspiring teen starlet or just looking for some inspiration to get out of your own personal Beverly Hills, this song is sure to get you feeling groovy!
Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Californication is a rock song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, first released on their 1999 album of the same name.
The track quickly became a hit, taking the #3 spot on the US Billboard charts and entering into numerous variations of the UK top-40.
Critics praised the song for its catchy melodies and driving rhythms, as well as for its surprisingly introspective lyrics about aging and facing one’s demons.
Today, Californication is considered to be one of the band’s most influential and iconic songs, helping to cement their place in music history alongside other noteworthy bands such as Nirvana and Radiohead.
Regardless of whether you are a fan of this genre or not, there’s no denying that Californication is a testament to what makes great music great.
And for those who have yet to experience it, this timeless classic is well worth checking out.
All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
Since its release in 1994, the song “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow has become a timeless classic, beloved by music fans all over the world.
This incredibly catchy track is infused with elements of folk, rock, and pop, and its driving beat and soaring chorus make it a perfect choice for parties and road trips alike.
Whether you’re reliving your favorite childhood summers or getting pumped up to take on a new adventure, this beloved tune is sure to put a smile on your face and help you kick back and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
I Left My Heart In San Francisco – Tony Bennett
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” is one of the most iconic and beloved songs in American music history.
Written and performed by legendary crooner Tony Bennett, the song tells the story of a bittersweet parting from his home city, and the longing for its special charms that remains with him long after he has left.
With its soaring vocals, lush arrangements, and unforgettable melody, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” perfectly captures the beauty and charm of this classic California city.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or yet to discover this masterpiece, it’s simply not to be missed.
So will you “leave your heart in San Francisco” too?
The choice is yours – but once you listen to this legendary tune, it will be hard to resist!
I Love LA – Randy Newman
The song I Love LA by Randy Newman is a fun and upbeat tribute to the city of Los Angeles.
This iconic song captures the spirit and energy of the city, with its sunny melodies and jubilant lyrics.
Whether you’re a longtime resident or simply a visitor passing through, this sing-along classic is sure to evoke memories of your time in LA.
Whether it’s the excitement of seeing a game at Dodger Stadium or attending one of the many world-class concerts that take place at The Hollywood Bowl, this beloved track perfectly encapsulates all that makes LA such a beloved city for locals and tourists alike.
LA Woman – The Doors
LA Woman is considered by many to be one of the greatest songs ever written.
With its haunting, bluesy melody and poetic lyrics, the song perfectly captures the mood and spirit of Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
It evokes images of smoggy skies, buzzing city streets, and carefree nights spent cruising in muscle cars.
At the same time, LA Woman also hints at darker undercurrents; it paints a picture of a manic, restless city that yearns for escape yet seems unable to find peace.
Whether you’re a lifelong Los Angeles resident or just passing through, if you want to experience what makes the city truly special, listen to The Doors’ LA Woman and let its raw energy wash over you like the salty ocean breeze on a warm summer day.
Ventura Highway – America
Ventura Highway is one of the most iconic songs in American music history, and it has become a defining track for the 1970s.
The lyrics tell a story about two friends on the road, exploring new places and soaking up the beautiful scenery of the West Coast.
With its upbeat tempo and catchy melodies, Ventura Highway captures the feelings of freedom and adventure that so many people associate with long road trips across America.
Although it was written over 40 years ago, this song remains beloved by generations of music fans, who continue to sing along to its memorable verses and hummable chord progressions.
Whether you’ve experienced California’s wide open spaces in person or just through this timeless song, there’s no doubt that you’ll be humming Ventura Highway for years to come!
California – Phantom Planet
California by Phantom Planet, is a treasured ode to the many wonders of the Golden State.
The song celebrates everything from its majestic landscapes and delicious cuisine to its rich history and vibrant culture.
From its beautiful beaches and rugged mountains to its dynamic cities and vibrant communities, California truly has something for everyone.
Whether you are a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone who simply loves everything about this incredible state, California is sure to capture your heart.
So if you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to experience all that it has to offer, be sure to give California by Phantom Planet a listen!
California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & the Papas
California Dreamin’ is one of the most iconic songs from the 1960s, capturing the spirit and allure of a land considered by many to be a true paradise.
With lyrics that evoke images of sun-drenched beaches and endless summer days, this joyful melody paints a vivid picture of all that California has to offer.
Some have even said that the song itself is a kind of ode to the state, expressing its undying appeal even as people continue to migrate west in search of fame, fortune, or simply happiness.
Whether you are already living in California or dreaming about your ideal life there, this classic tune is sure to take you on a magical ride down sunny coastlines and ocean breezes.
Life In The Fast Lane – The Eagles
Life in the Fast Lane is a song by The Eagles that was released on their 1976 album, Hotel California.
This hard-hitting rock track captures the spirit of life on the fast track, with its driving guitar riffs and urgent lyrics about material wealth, ambition, and competition.
Despite its intensely hectic vibe, Life in the Fast Lane has proven to be one of The Eagles’ most popular songs over the years.
It has been covered by several other artists, and was ranked #180 on Billboard’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Whether you’re eager to experience the high-octane rush of life on the fast lane or just want to hear one of The Eagles’ best-loved hits, this iconic song is sure to hit all the right notes.
The Boys of Summer – Don Henley
The Boys of Summer is a seminal song by legendary artist Don Henley.
Released in 1984, the track stands as one of the most enduring and influential songs of that decade.
With its plaintive lyrics and melancholic mood, The Boys of Summer perfectly captures the feelings of nostalgia and regret often associated with being young and carefree.
But it is also an intensely personal song; even thirty years after its release, many fans continue to connect deeply with Henley’s lyrics about lost loves and past relationships.
Despite its simple instrumentation and understated arrangement, The Boys of Summer remains a timeless classic that has touched countless listeners throughout the years.
California Girls – The Beach Boys
California Girls is a classic hit by The Beach Boys, and it has become one of the most popular songs from their extensive music catalog.
The song encapsulates the laid-back, sun-soaked beach culture of Southern California in a bright, catchy tune that appeals to fans young and old.
Over 50 years since its release, California Girls continues to be loved for its conjuring of summertime memories and carefree attitudes.
Whether you’re soaking up the rays at Venice Beach or cruising around in a muscle car on the PCH, this iconic song will always keep you dreaming of all things Californian.
So if you’re looking for a piece of sunshine to brighten up your day, just turn on the radio and let California Girls take you to the beach!
Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers is widely regarded as one of the most iconic songs in rock music.
This moody, emotional ballad tells the story of a relationship gone wrong, and captures the feelings of loss, pain, and disappointment that can often accompany such breakups.
With its powerful lyrics and raw, visceral melodies, Under the Bridge has touched millions of people around the world and has become an anthem for anyone who has ever suffered from heartache or betrayal.
Whether it’s played at stadiums or at radio stations, this classic song will continue to captivate audiences for many more years to come.
Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
One of the most iconic songs of all time, Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay was written and recorded by musician Otis Redding in 1967.
With its groovy bass line and haunting melody, the song has become a classic, revered by musicians and listeners alike for its distinctly soulful sound.
In addition to its catchy chorus, what sets Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay apart is that it was one of the very first songs to be recorded on multi-track recording equipment, allowing Redding to add layers and textures until his vision was fully realized.
Today, the song remains relevant as ever, maintaining its status as a true musical classic.
So if you haven’t already heard it, take a few minutes to listen closely to this groundbreaking track and let yourself get swept away in its timeless beauty.
California Waiting – Kings of Leon
The song “California Waiting” by the band Kings of Leon was released in 2005 as part of their album WALLS.
This gritty and rocking track perfectly captures the essence of LA living, with its powerful guitars and driving rhythms.
The lyrics focus on the desire to escape the mundane suburban life, yearning for a more exciting existence in sunny California.
With its upbeat melody and raw energy, this is undoubtedly one of Kings of Leon’s finest songs and a great choice for anyone looking for some electro-rock goodness.
Whether you’re a fan of indie rock or just looking to add some variety to your playlist, “California Waiting” is sure to delight any listener.