Covering Our (Sound)Tracks: The O.C.

14 Apr

From Top Left, clockwise: Joseph Arthur's Honey and The Moon; Nada Surf provide a classic cover; The show's central four do what they do best, relax on a beach; Imogen Heap, a regular contributor to the show's soundtrack.

Of my favourite albums, soundtracks feature strongly. I buy soundtracks when I a) think that the music is worth having and b) when the accompanying film or television show is good. It creates a link between the music so that it’s not standalone but has context. It also means that you make a connection with the music, that depending on the given television show or film, can enhance your understanding and affection for the given song. I have countless favourite songs in film. From the last few years alone, I loved David Bowie’s Cat People in Inglorious Basterds, Harry and Hermione’s tender/awkward teenage dance moment and both of The Social networks trailers, featuring Kanye and a Radiohead cover. The realm of television, however is slightly different. By their lengthier nature, television shows have more opportunity to showcase music. Whereas films normally have to use dramatic songs to create memorable and dramatic moments, television shows can have humbler musical moments. A great example of this is The O.C.

Much mocked, much loved, much watched (for a time), The O.C played a big part during my television maturity. Its director, Josh Shwartz’s current project is Gossip Girl, a show whose season 1 soundtrack was a purchase of mine (the show’s quality has since derailed quite substantially). The O.C however featured a hugely diverse soundtrack. No matter how many times Marissa was whining about family problems/boyfriend problems/girlfriend problems, a great track was always ready to pull the viewer in. Seriously, while researching this article I found a whole YouTube channel dedicated to musical moments in The O.C.

There are countless songs that I can associate with The O.C. Its iconic opening track and subsequent cover by Mates of State are perhaps the most recognisable. From memory, I recall The Killers, The Thrills, The Walkmen, Death Cab For Cutie all appearing on the show and before you say ‘Indie White Boy music,’ I’d like to point out that T.I once made a guest appearance too. Before I become a surfboard deep in the nostalgia of Summer Roberts, I’ve compiled my favourite musical moments from the show. Grab your skateboard, put on your best teenage angst face a la Marissa Cooper and rummage for your best wifebeater, it’s time to take a trip right back where we started from, down the 101.

First up and my favourite O.C moment song, like ever. It’s a great band, a great song and a great scene. I hate when people write ‘kleenex at the ready,’ because really, who actually prepares themselves like that but this is highly emotional. Nada Surf cover OMD with If You Leave. I love Nada Surf and a joy of listening to their albums is that you can see a real thematic development. Their earlier albums, of the ‘popular’ days could have provided the soundtrack to the entire 90s. This song in particular boasts many of my favourite lyrics from:

I touched you once, I touched you twice
I won’t let go at any price


I need you now like I needed you then
You always said we’d meet again someday

Take a listen and watch (and don’t worry, Seth Cohen moved onto better things):

Next is an artist who left Frou Frou and has become a really creative musician, and her name is Imogen Heap. Her song, the fantastic Hide & Seek was featured in a series finale after a dramatic shooting. The O.C had its faults but this was a really imaginative sequence and a fantastic way to end the series. Unfortunately it also marked The O.C’s decline. Watch it here.

My final choice had been Joseph Arthur’s Honey and The Moon but it’s already been featured on the blog before. It played during the first episode and was a great atmospheric moment. The O.C really flourished in those moments. I’d dare to say that the end of the first series and its tracking of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah was even quite iconic (for teenagers, anyway.) Those scenes (season 2’s use of Fix You by Coldplay comes to mind) have a tendency to be overwrought and as I’ve mentioned before I like the smaller, more tender scenes of which my next song is perfect. Jet are a band I’m quite fond of and certainly a group I like to return to every so often even if they don’t spring to mine as my set favourites. Their song Move On was in a really nice moment at the end of an episode. It’s a song about continuation and here it demonstrates a feeling every student has experienced. When something embarrassing happens, albeit quite extreme in these cases, you have to return school and just carry on. Here’s the video:

I hope you enjoyed my list, and if you are an O.C fan do tell us your favourite moments. This was not exhaustive and there are plenty of great musical choices in the show to choose from. It would be really interesting to know if you feel like any other television show had a real impact on your musical taste. I’m sure that The O.C’s Forever Young will still resonate in every teenager’s heart.


3 Responses to “Covering Our (Sound)Tracks: The O.C.”

  1. GJohnston April 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Such a great post, makes me want to rewatch all four seasons. Moments that instantly springs to mind are Ryan and Marissa’s first kiss on the ferris wheel accompanied by Paint the silence by South and the opening of Season 4 with Ryan as a cage fighter and Running up that hill by Placebo, but there were so many many more.

  2. henry2110 April 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Good call with Paint the SIlence and I’ve always had a fondness for the Placebo cover, I mentioned it in my post about my favourite cover versions. I think my favourite season 1 song is Saturday Morning by The Eels though…


  1. The Trailing Skirts of God – Bell X1 « Can You Hear This - April 15, 2011

    […] It was strange to me today when I tried to chat with a few of my friends, all of whom are big music fans, about the merit of Bell X1. Turns out that none of them had heard of Bell X1 which makes me think that maybe I am one of the few outside of Ireland. In Ireland, Bell X1 are the second biggest band behind Keane (no exaggeration), made famous by anthemic pop and beautiful vocals. They came first to my attention, and many others, when Eve the Apple of My Eye played during a famous lesbian kiss on the OC (how do we always end up on that show!?). […]

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