It’s crazy to think that fourteen years ago a boy from Chino waded through the Newpsie-filled waters of Orange County and stole our hearts. The O.C. wasn’t just a show; it was basically a religion. The clothes were the epitome of 2000s fashion (did anyone else wear a dress over their pants?) and Ryan Atwood was the good bad boy that everyone either wanted to be or be with.
But it was the music that helped shape the overall success of the series. Choosing indie rock bands for the soundtrack started out as a result of a small budget, but eventually the distinctive music became the driving force behind the show. Even today, hearing certain songs brings me back to key scenes in the series.
So, to celebrate the show’s extremely important fourteenth anniversary, here are fourteen of our favourite O.C. moments from season one and the songs that made them so iconic.
Joseph Arthur – “Honey and The Moon”
This song appears at the end of episode one, where Sandy drives Ryan away from the house. Moodily looking out at Marissa, Ryan is obviously in love with her already. The music and sunset is just so sad and romantic, and of course, everyone watching is hooked. And so it begins…
Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”
Jeff Buckley’s classic Leonard Cohen cover pops up a lot, often when life changing things happen (*ahem* a certain car wreck), but it first appears in the iconic model home scene. We get our first real dose of the Ryan and Marissa romance, and Jeff Buckley’s version of this song sets the haunting tone for their doomed romance.
Turin Brakes – “Rain City”
Dawn tries to sneak out, leaving Ryan with a pathetic wave goodbye. The song is heartbreaking, but it perfectly captures the emotional moment when Kirsten decides to let Ryan stay, and changes his life forever. Brb bawling.
Fountains of Wayne – “All Kinds of Time”
Ryan and Marissa sit with their feet in the water while this song plays in the background, emphasizing their blossoming relationship. It’s probably the second best song from Fountains of Wayne (I think every 90s kid still knows the words to “Stacy’s Mom”).
Mazzy Star – “Into Dust”
This song plays through the show’s entire run, usually whenever Ryan heroically carries Marissa. It first appears when she is dumped on her stoop by her “friends” and Ryan carries her to the pool house. Later, in the infamous TJ overdose scene, he carries her down the alleyway to this song. Ugh, so intense, such pain. Get your shit together Marissa!
South – “Paint the Silence”
Something a little less morose, but equally important in the relationship between Ryan and Marissa: the ferris wheel kiss! If you didn’t fantasize about acting out this scene… you’re lying.
Aqualung – “Strange and Beautiful”
Another ~sexy~ one, this song plays while Ryan and Marissa are making out in the pool house. (Does anyone else notice that they never use tongue? What is that?). Seems weird that Kirsten and Sandy would trust a teenager to live alone in a pool house but, whatever…
Finley Quaye ft. William Orbit – “Dice”
Chills, every time. This is the scene where Ryan runs up to kiss Marissa and tells her he loves her on New Year’s Eve. The song builds up the suspense beautifully: Is Ryan gonna make it up the stairs without passing out? Is Oliver going to try to kiss her at midnight? So many questions! When Ryan does finally make it, it’s flawless. There’s an excellent use of slow-mo and confetti, plus Marissa is seriously rocking that side pony.
Rooney – “I’m Shakin'”
This is a personal favourite. When the gang goes to Rooney, Luke sings this song so badly it’s good. You do you, Luke!
Bob Seger – “Night Moves”
Speaking of Luke, he ruins his dumb/loyal friend vibe by hooking up with Julie. That being said, this song is so perfect that it totally completes the scene. This old school Seger classic emphasizes Julie Cooper’s age, and the fact that Luke is just a ~tad~ too young.
Patrick Park – “Something Pretty”
“Acknowledge me now or lose me forever.” Yep, you got it, this plays during when Seth stands on the kissing booth to profess his feelings for Summer. This is a turning point in their relationship, and this song provides the perfect backdrop for their romance.
Nada Surf – “If You Leave”
Seth runs through the airport to say goodbye to Anna, and this song plays during their emotional goodbye. Even if you hated Anna (and I know a lot of people did), you can’t deny that this scene was extremely sad.
The Beastie Boys – “Ch-Check It Out”
The Vegas episode. Poker, pimps, and prostitutes; a perfect combination. Even better? This scene ends with Ryan, Seth, and Summer walking around the strip to this Beastie Boys song. Epic.
Oasis – “Champagne Supernova”
Yes, I know this song isn’t in the first season. But what would a list of O.C. music be without this song, and this scene? (I don’t even have to mention what scene, you know it). Seth + Summer 4eva.
Okay, I have to go binge watch this season now. BYE.