By Séamus Smyth

5. California – Phantom Planet

For a brief period, The O.C. was all that mattered on television. It was our generation’s response to the original 90210. Marisa, the self-destroying Godess, Ryan, the reluctant outcast, Seth the clueless dork and Summer, the bubbly princess, managed to help sexy bring California back. Most introductions to shows geared towards teenagers were throwaway mixes, until Orange County put itself on the map. This song was a sneak peak at what would become a wildly successful string of soundtracks with music wonderfully capturing the angst, lust and heartbreak that defined the lives of four California dreamboats.

4. Going Back to Cali – Notorious B.I.G

We could have done without hearing Biggie roll around in his California King-sized bed for the first minute of the song, but it’s slightly entertaining to hear him perk up when he realizes he’ll soon be touching down on the west coast. Women, weather and the sticky green are Biggie’s prime purposes for dropping in, and it makes him so excited he spells his own name not once but twice. He makes it clear that he still prefers the east over the west, ostensibly because he lives there, but more likely because he would sweat his bag off every time the sun came up.

3. Live and Die in L.A. – Tupac Shakur

Where “California Love” was a party anthem dedicated to the club hoppers across the state, “Live and Die in L.A.” was a sincere love letter to the heart of California. Nobody represented the west harder than the man with “Thug Life” penned across his belly. This triumph of rap music is proof beyond reasonable doubt that Pac would rather die a thousand times than live anywhere else besides the City of Angels.

2. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and Papas

With California being the nucleus of peace and love in the 60s, it’s no wonder that hippy dippy mamas and papas fantasized about the west coast beaches. It was songs like this, along with a large chunk of the Beach Boys catelog that made California the ultimate destination. It was the American dream, but without the blood, sweat and tears. Everybody was, and kind of still is, day-dreaming about aimlessly walking the beaches of California without a problem in sight. You will definitely be warm in California, but safe is debatable. Yet this gang is so high on dropping acid, I don’t think safety is a chief concern.

1. Californiacation – Red HOT Chili Peppers

The Chili’s tear up the California postcards and instead give an uncensored tour of their home land. These aren’t tourists, these are lifers, dudes that have hit the surf, shot up under the bridge, and have seen big dreams die, and nobody’s become somebody’s overnight. This isn’t just a land of palm trees and celebrities. It’s pornography, its exploitation and it’s drug addiction. “It’s understood that Hollywood sells Californiacation,” is a line intended to explain that kids saying they want to be famous when they grow up isn’t a concept they learned from their parents, but a line plugged into them by the biggest hype machine the world has ever heard of – California.