Ah, The WB era… full of precious teenagers trying to figure themselves out and who they should be kissing next. What an era. Likewise, what a great time for some good music. That’s exactly why we decided to make a playlist of all the fantastic tracks that remind us of those great series. From Buffy to One Tree Hill to Freaks and Geeks and Veronica Mars, below you’ll find a compilation of the songs we associate with the times of innocent (and vampire-slaying) melodramas that aired when The WB reigned the genre. Get ready for a trip down memory lane.
We’ve also included it as a Spotify playlist.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t be all-inclusive or we’d have the longest playlist ever. But share with us your favorite songs, as well, in the comments below!
1. “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw
One Tree Hill, Every Episode | Okay, we may be cheating by using the theme song to One Tree Hill, but is there really any other song that pops up first in your head when you think of this show? Not only was it the theme, but it was sort of imperative to the entire show — having been performed several times, and in later seasons was actually covered during the opening titles. Besides, let’s be honest: this song is like the teenager’s anthem. We just don’t know who we are, okay!?
2. “Girl From Mars” by Ash
Gilmore Girls, 2×15 “Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy” | We concede this isn’t a memorable song from the series, but it somehow fits Gilmore Girls‘ quirkiness beautifully and nicely transitions into our next track.
3. “Box of Rain” by Grateful Dead
Freaks and Geeks, 1×15 “Discos and Dragons” | The special thing about Freaks and Geeks is that it always rang true – it was refreshingly realistic, and often painfully so. From heartbreak to humiliation, Freaks and Geeks was unwavering in its goal to encapsulate the most awkward parts of adolescence. But Freaks and Geeks also showed those quiet moments of being a teenager that aren’t quite so bad, those moments that are only possible when the rest of your life is ahead of you, littered with possibility. When a young Samaire Armstrong spotted Lindsay with a Grateful Dead album, she said, “I wish I never heard it, just so I could hear it again for the first time.” But when Lindsay puts the album into her record player, it’s not only that record she hasn’t experienced. It’s the potential of the summer to come, of the year after that, and the year after that. It’s all the ‘first times’ she hasn’t gone through yet, all the paths not yet taken, all doors wide open. There’s so many records she hasn’t heard yet, but right now, she’s in this moment, as a teenager, dancing alone in her room.
4. “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling
Smallville, 1×02 “Metamorphosis” | This song reminds us of the more innocent days of Smallville, when Clark was just kid figuring himself out… as well as his feelings for Lana.
5. “I Hear the Bells” by Mike Doughty
Veronica Mars, 2×20 “Look Who’s Stalking | Maybe it seems obvious, but there are few things on a show more likely to bring the big musical moments than a prom episode, and Veronica Mars‘ “alterna-prom” episode was no different. After a season of Veronica and Logan playing a game of relationship cat and mouse, Logan, inspired by the emotions of the evening, the alcohol, and of course, the music, decides to lay all his feelings on the table. He explains to a surprised and somewhat confused Veronica that he saw their story as being epic. Overwhelmed with this unexpected emotional outpouring, Veronica makes a quick escape, leaving a brooding Logan in her wake. Whether Logan’s assessment about their relationship was true or not is something left up to personal opinion, but the song choice and the way it it set up the tone and emotion of the scene was indeed epic.
6. “My Little Corner of the World” by Yo La Tengo
Gilmore Girls, 1×21 “Love, Daisies and Troubadours” | As fantastic as the dynamic is between Rory and Lorelai is, even in the spottier moments of the show, Gilmore Girls has always been about Stars Hollow just as much as its two female leads. We kept watching for the Sookies and Lanes and Lukes and Kirks of the series. This song embodies the importance of having that space to call home for these characters.
7. “Wild Horses” by The Sundays
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 3×20 “The Prom” | It was both an emotionally heavy scene and the last breath of fresh air for the characters before hell quite literally broke loose in the following episodes. Buffy and Angel, having broken up earlier, share a final romantic, tender moment dancing together at Sunnydale High’s senior prom. All the younger characters are in the arms of someone they care dearly for and, in only in the that brief moment, able to just be normal teenagers. It was simple and sweet, and like most scenes on Buffy, underlined with sadness and doom.
8. “Fix You” by Coldplay
The O.C., 2×23 “The O.Sea” | The gang go to the dance Seth helps an alone Summer on stage, who has just won Prom Queen. Ryan helps Marissa… and everything seems okay, but nothing is as it seems on The O.C.
9. “Full of Grace” by Sarah McLachlan
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1×12 “Prophecy Girl” | Normally, we wouldn’t be recommending Sarah McLachlan songs — they remind us of dog adoption commercials and then make us really sad. “Full of Grace” was used for the finale of Season 1 when Buffy runs away to L.A. after sending Angel to hell. This song was used so perfectly to show how devastated Buffy is, and even if it’s a little melodramatic, it totally fits the moment.
10. “God Bless the Child” by Michelle Featherstone
One Tree Hill, 3×16 “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept” | What can we say, One Tree Hill can be sort of dramatic. And it’s true that most times the can be quite outrageous, but nothing truly outshines this moment: the school shooting. After this episode, and this music moment, nothing on the series was ever the same again. And this song helped underscore it all.
11. “My Immortal” by Evanescence
Smallville, 3×19 “Memoria” | Okay, we’re going to level with you: we just love this song and it needed to be on the playlist. Otherwise, yes, this is another Clana moment-song, but hey… Lois and Clark didn’t truly blossom until The CW days anyway, right? Bonus: “You and Me” by Lifehouse.
12. “Goodbye to You” by Michelle Branch
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 6×08 “Tabula Rusa | It’s the song that played when Giles left and Tara moved out. The music added a lot to that scene. Some of us still always cry when it shows Tara leaving and the song says “I want you, but I’m not giving in this time.” WILLOW Y U USE MAGIC? Maybe that song just sticks out because of the nostalgia factor we have associated with it. We remember when it was really popular and it kind of brings me back to that time.
13. “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer
Dawson’s Creek, 2×06 “The Dance” & 2×18 “The Perfect Wedding” | Level with us here: is there any other song that screams late ’90s cheesy nostalgia than “Kiss Me”? Exactly. When we first set out for this playlist, we expected a lot of it, but surprisingly didn’t get those results. We’re just glad we could include “Kiss Me.” G’head, sing along; we know you want to. (Fun fact: did you know that the Dawson’s Creek version of the music video was number one on VH1 for a month when it released?)
14. “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heep
The O.C., 2×24 “The Dearly Beloved” | We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but “Hide and Seek” is probably the song with which everyone associates The O.C.… even those who have never watched a single episode. So much so, that the actual scene it was used in almost looks like a parody of all the parodies that spun from it. But hey, we love “Hide and Seek.” Just skip to 2:53 to get to the “Mmm whacha say”s. We know you want to.
15. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
The O.C., 1×27 “The Ties that Bind” | It’s the first season finale of The O.C. and everything is about to change. Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” perfectly highlights that fact — you can just feel it. And the final scene of the season, where this song was used, proved that the show was more than romantic entanglements, but also about powerful relationships — especially between Ryan and Seth.
16. “Cathedrals” by Jump Little Children
Everwood, 1×23 | For some reason, The WB chose other dramas instead of Everwood to continue on its UPN-merged The CW network. Perhaps the series didn’t make a long-lasting impression on audiences, but “Cathedral” sure has been embedded in us.
17. “Walk Through the Fire” by Buffy Cast
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Once More, With Feeling” | In a musical episode, it’s hard to pinpoint one track or scene that stands out above the rest, but the ensemble performance of “Walk Through the Fire” is definitely noteworthy. Every character sings a different part, their own point of view and personal opinions on the current events, and the parts are layered directly on top of each other resulting in a frenzied, confused melody. It’s the perfect song to fit within a season where all the characters are so consumed with their own issues they are ignorant to those of their dearest friends and loved ones, which often leaves them feeling completely alone in a room full of friends. The song slowly builds, mimicking the rising tension of the episode, until it reaches a breaking point as everyone reunites, leading into Buffy’s heartbreaking confessions regarding her resurrection and the price she paid for her friends’ love.
18. “Dice” by Finley Quaye
The O.C., 1×14 “The Countdown” | “I love you.” “Thank you.” There’s not much time until the clock counts down to zero and it’s a new year, so Ryan tries to find Marissa before it’s all too late. Meanwhile, Summer is missing Seth who is enjoying some else’s company. But mostly, this song is great.
19. “One Way or Another” by Blondie
Veronica Mars, 1×12 “Clash of the Tritons” | When forced to sing karaoke to a room full of potential suspects in a current case, Veronica does what Veronica does best- steps up to the challenge with attitude and a sassy smile. She chooses the 80’s classic made famous by Blondie and with all her considerate spunk, sings directly towards the perpetrators. It was a wonderful showcase of what makes the character of Veronica so amazing- her courage, her tenacity, her wit, and most of all, her snark, and in the moment, you realize, no matter how down and out things might seem, Veronica will rise to the occasion and she’ll “getcha, getcha, getcha.” Watch the clip here.
20. “Good Vibrations” by Gym Class Heroes
One Tree Hill, 4×17 “It Gets Worse At Night” | As we transition into The CW period, we’ve got to mention this cover of The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” by Gym Class Heroes. NOTE: Very tough to find, on Spotify we include The Beach Boys’ track and not Gym Class Heroes. This song was used in an episode where the gang find themselves in a small town (part of a contest), and they’re all finally together and happy.
21. “It Never Rains in Southern California” by Albert Hammond
Veronica Mars, 3×20 “The Bitch is Back” | It’s the final scene of Veronica Mars: Veronica walking off in the rain as she has just voted for her father, who is mostly likely not going to win thanks to a scandal in the newspaper. Somehow it’s perfect for the show, and while not conclusive… it’s definitely understandable.