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10 Canadian songs you forgot were on The O.C.

By
Jess Huddleston

Timeless teen drama The O.C. debuted 15 years ago on Aug. 3 — and while it was known for its endless series of unfortunate events, sometimes cringeworthy acting and Sandy Cohen's glorious eyebrows, there's a possibility it might be best remembered for its incredible indie soundtrack.

In all of her work, acclaimed music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas has showcased a knack for discovering emerging bands and cleverly placing their songs for maximum emotional effect. In crafting The O.C.'s sound in the early millennium, Patsavas tapped into both established and emerging Canadian acts, shining a light on all the talent growing north of Newport Beach.

Below, we've highlighted 10 great Canadian songs you may have forgotten were on the smash hit series' soundtrack.


'California,' Rufus Wainwright

While certainly not the most recognizable Cali-themed song from the teen drama (cue galloping piano keys), Rufus Wainwright’s sun-streaked ditty still stands out as one of the series’ most recognizable odes to the golden state. This strum-happy “California” plays early on in Season 1, providing the soundtrack to beautiful shots of Newport Beach, as well as bad boy Ryan and hipster nerd Seth floating together in the Cohen's luxurious pool.

— Jess Huddleston

'Hallelujah,' Jeff Buckley

Although the late Jeff Buckley sings the version of “Hallelujah” first heard on The O.C. (as do Imogen Heap and Rufus Wainwright, later in the series), Canadian icon Leonard Cohen penned the famous original, which is heart-wrenching in any format. Buckley’s cover is heard early in Season 1, when Ryan puts on the homemade CD (hello, 2003) that his love interest Marissa made him for his lonely stay in the model home hideout. Marissa shows up and the two have an almost-moment before — in classic O.C. style — everything is ruined by a jerk. — JH

'Maybe This Christmas,' Ron Sexsmith

Ron Sexsmith’s Christmas original, “Maybe This Christmas,” soundtracked the holiday episodes of The O.C.’s first two seasons. With its opening refrain — “Maybe this Christmas will mean something more” — Sexsmith’s sweet acoustic track perfectly encapsulates the story of Ryan, an outsider seeking a fresh start and embraced by a new family after his brother is sent to prison and his mother is unable to care for him.

Melody Lau

'On the Table,' A.C. Newman

To get a song played on The O.C. alone was an impressive enough feat, but New Pornographers frontman A.C. Newman got the added bonus of having one of his solo tracks featured on the coveted Music From The O.C. soundtrack. Appearing on the fourth edition of the show’s soundtrack series, Newman’s “On the Table,” a bright and sunny number, provided the perfect sonic backdrop as Orange County’s favourite teens gossiped about the recent arrest of real estate mogul Caleb Nichol. — ML

'Let it Die,' Feist

Like many other great teen dramas, The O.C. was filled with break-ups and make-ups. The most prominent back-and-forth romance of the show was Seth and Summer, who — spoiler alert — ultimately end up together at the end of the series. But, during the couple’s most tumultuous times (enter Zach in Season 2), a song like Feist’s “Let it Die” helped hammer home the more melancholic emotions of the characters when they were separated and faced with the fact that, maybe, things weren’t going to work out. — ML

'No Sleep,' Sam Roberts

One of the great O.C. debates is: were you team Ryan, team Seth or (in the wisest cases) team Sandy? Seth was a popular answer for those drawn to his quick-tongued banter and quirky antics, which were on full display in Season 2 when the sleepless, paranoid young Cohen grills Summer’s new boyfriend, Zach, about whether or not the two had been — intimate, yet. Right at the early 2000s onset of Canadian rocker Sam Roberts’ rise to fame, the singer's menacing (and pleasantly bilingual) single “No Sleep” couldn’t have made more sense in a scene. — JH

'Your Ex-Lover is Dead,' Stars

Perpetual on-off couple Seth and Summer have a heartbreaking Season 2 exchange alongside Stars’ classic anthem from Set Yourself on Fire, when the two try to convince each other (and themselves) that they can move on. Of course they can’t, which makes it all the more painful to watch when set to the song’s waltzing violins and poignant lyric, “live through this and you won’t look back.” — JH

'Christmas Day in the Sun,' Hot Hot Heat

Now disbanded Montreal indie rockers Hot Hot Heat lent this upbeat, Newport-ready holiday jam to Season 3’s "The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-vahkka," when the gang is hanging out at the diner, brainstorming how to raise money for their surfer friend Johnny’s surgery. (RIP, Johnny.) — JH

'Gubbish,' Chad VanGaalen

In The O.C.’s final season, Ryan and Seth have a nice little brother moment when Seth agrees to stay up all night and keep insomniac Ryan company. Calgary indie-rock VanGaalen’s thumping song plays underneath the all-nighter montage. — JH

'The House we Live In,' The Stills

The Stills’ beautiful 2006 ballad appears near the end of the series, during one of Kirsten’s famous Newport parties — the one in which she had just told her family she’s pregnant. Playing somewhat symbolically while Ryan happily slow dances with Taylor, Seth with Summer and Sandy with Kirsten, the song’s lyrics (“the house we live in/ is all I know”) are the perfect accompaniment to a rare moment of peace for the tight-knit family. — JH