Culture

Here Are The Cities That Musicians Just Can’t Stop Singing About

No matter how complex your relationship with your hometown might be, you probably get that little pang of nostalgia and affection when you hear a musician singing about the place where you grew up.

Art is, after all, how we make sense of a place, how we connect together its histories and its people, sights and sounds. But not all cities were created equal as far as musicians are concerned, and some locales are more attractive to songbirds than others.

Indeed, the good folks over at Celebrity Cruises in the United Kingdom have worked out exactly how sung-about certain cities are with their ‘Music Mapped’ project, an interactive graph that helps make sense of the song-lines that are constantly dotting up around the globe.

The project is still evolving, and the results aren’t currently super comprehensive: for example, the project doesn’t currently list Randy Newman’s iconic banger ‘I Love LA’ in its list of songs about Los Angeles, which is a crime as far as this writer is concerned.

But still, some clear winners have already emerged, five cities that musicians can’t stop singing the praises of – quite literally.


New York

New York is a popular spot for musicians

It’s probably of no surprise to learn that New York is the most sung-about city in the world.

The Big Apple has been an internationally recognised hub of arts and culture for decades now, so it makes sense that musicians and performers are still drawn to its siren call.

 

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Of particular interest to artists is Coney Island, one of our must-see spots in New York.

It’s a welcoming, sunny neighbourhood full of beaches, resorts, and neon-lit attractions that has long proved extremely popular with tourists over the summer months.

 

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Lou Reed, underground rebel turned household name, even dedicated a whole album to the Brooklyn institution. Coney Island Baby is a collection of swooning anthems that’s the most sentimental moment in the raconteur’s entire career; his love for the place shines through the entire project.

That allure of Coney Island hasn’t faded since the seventies, either; contemporary acts like Mercury Rev and Death Cab For Cutie have also got on board the train, penning sun-blasted anthems to one of New York’s most beloved travel destinations.


London

London is one of the most sung-about cities in the world

Next up on the list is London, one of the epicentres of the United Kingdom‘s vibrant music scene.

London became a particularly beloved muse for songwriters during the Britpop era, when London-based acts like Blur and Pulp began dominating the charts at home and abroad.

Pulp’s ‘Bar Italia’, for example, is named after the popular SoHo joint of the same name, an all-night hang-out for a bevy of creatives and hard-living partiers alike.

Soho's Bar Italia is a hotbed of creativity

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Oh, and who can forget Blur’s ‘London Loves’, a caustic takedown of the inhumanity of modern cities disguised as a love song?


Los Angeles

Musicians love L.A.

Los Angeles, California has been so romanticised that it barely feels like a real city; its bustling streets are filled with characters; its skies forever blue and cloudless.

Everything from its wildlife to its weather has been translated into art – it’s hard to walk down a Los Angeles avenue without feeling like you’ve stumbled out of the real world and into somewhere new, and magical.

 

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For many years, LA belonged to Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. It was he who first seriously began writing about its beaches and its women, penning sun-blasted odes to chilling with your mates and catching the waves.

Since then, Weezer have picked up the slack, releasing a mini-album’s worth of tunes dedicated to the land of sand and surf, from ‘California Kids’ and ‘California Snow’, to ‘LA Girlz’.


California City

Though quiet, California City is an exceedingly popular spot for musos

Musicians really can’t get enough of the state of California, hey?

Just after LA on the list of most sung-about cities is California City, a quieter, more rural slice of the State that is still defined its by large, undeveloped tracts of land.

 

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But its status as a palm tree-studded desert hasn’t stopped artists as varied as Led Zeppelin, Tom DeLonge, and Lana Del Rey from writing about it.

Indeed, Del Rey’s whole aesthetic could be said to borrow a lot from the wind-swept, slightly eerie vibe of California City.


Hollywood

Hollywood has only grown in stature for musicians over the years

Yep, it’s another American one.

The fifth most sung-about destination is Hollywood, the home of the USA’s film industry, and a beautiful – though extremely busy – hotbed of culture.

Hollywood is one of the most sung-about cities in the world

Most of the songs about Hollywood cast it as a place of dreams, both fulfilled and broken; who can forget Concrete Blonde’s ‘Still In Hollywood’, a depressing ditty about the way the city chews up creatives and spits them out?

But the songs aren’t all depressing: there’s also the kitschy, sexed-up schmaltz of Father John Misty’s ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’, and the twinkly-eyed enthusiasm of Doris Day’s ‘Hooray For Hollywood.’

In any case, it doesn’t look like musicians are set to stop writing about Hollywood any time soon; as long as the city calls musicians to its side, they’ll keep writing about it.

Explore the rest of the highlights here.

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