Crowdsourcing the “I Hate [City]” playlist

February 3, 2010

Despite being dedicated urban dwellers, a couple of my friends and I started talking about songs that express an antipathy toward cities; in particular, songs that expressed a dislike for a specific city. We have a starter set (see below), but I thought I’d crowdsource it a bit – can you think of songs that fit the description? Suggestions in the comments, please!

EDIT: Quinn adds: “Bonus points for songs that hate on SF!”

MP3: (Winnipeg) The Weakerthans – One Great City! [buy]

MP3: (New York) LCD Soundsystem – New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down [buy]

MP3: (Boston) Dismemberment Plan – Ice of Boston (live) [buy]


  1. There’s
    Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lodi

    • Thanks! And this is the point that I realize that Lodi is actually a city in California, and not just a kind of zinfandel. Oops.

  2. One could make arguments on behalf of

    “Leaving Las Vegas” – Sheryl Crow
    “In your Atmosphere” – John Mayer (“I don’t think I’m gonna go to L.A. anymore”)

    Sting’s “Englishman in New York” expresses at the very least a mild uncomfortableness.

    “In California” – Neko Case. Definitely anti-L.A.

  3. it might be too obvious, but you can’t get more anti-LA than “Why you’d want to live here” by Death Cab for Cutie

  4. Hmmm…an interesting thing about this is that LA seems to be coming out ahead as the most hated city…

  5. Arcade Fire’s ‘Cold Wind’ has the line: If you’re going to San Francisco/Lay some flowers on the grave stone. That sounds kinda anti-SF to me. The whole Neon Bible album is arguably anti- city life.

  6. Some songs that may or may not fit:

    “Los Angeles Waltz” – Razorlight
    “Los Angeles I’m Yours” – The Decemberists

    “Fake Tales of San Francisco” – Arctic Monkeys (not so much anti-SF as anti-obnoxious-people…)

    “NYC” – Interpol

    “On a Freezing Chicago Street” – Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos

    “London Loves” – Blur (and basically every song in Blur and Pulp’s catalogs counts as scathing commentary about some British city or town….)

    “Kings Cross” or “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys

    • Bing bing bing! Anna gets a big dose of Internet love for being the first person who found an anti-SF song.

      • Haha hooray! I do what I can. 😉

        As a side note, I’m always fascinated by the songs that are named after cities but have no recognizable reference to the city in their lyrics… I’ve got plenty of those too.

  7. I’d propose that Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” is the quintessential “I hate L.A.” song.

    Having lived there for three years, I can confirm that L.A. makes itself easy to hate. I still enjoy visiting, but wouldn’t want to live there ever again.

    I’m also surprised no one has yet mentioned Jonathan Coulton’s “Brookline”.

  8. “California On My Mind” by Wild Light, totally hates on SF


  9. Wow, there’s a lot of hate’n on the city songs out there. Additional from my twitter replies:

    “New York’s Not My Home” Jim Croce
    “Saturday Night In Toledo Ohio” John Denver
    “Talkin New York” Bob Dylan
    “Uptown” Prince [generic city]
    “Fuck This Town” Robbie Fulks [nashvilled]
    “Los Angeles” X
    “Ooh, Las Vegas” by Gram Parsons
    “NY NY” by Grandmaster Flash
    “I Hate California” Jonathan Coulton [general, but mentions LA]

    Bonus Hebrew track! “I can’t believe that I live in Petach-Tikva!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU8nFc9_29o

  10. Here’s another bunch from my Twitter replies.

    via @shoebox:
    “Fuck California” by the PotUSA
    John Prine – Angel from Montgomery
    Hedwig & The Angry Inch – Wicked Little Town
    Eliot Smith – Alphabet Town
    Moldy Peaches: NYC’s like a graveyard
    Brer Brian – Harlem ’99

    via @jadudm:
    “Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio” by John Denver

    and a couple more votes for “I Hate California” (@failjolesfail), “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” (@quantazelle)and “Why You’d Want to Live Here” (@johnnyarguedas).

    Thanks, everyone! This was really fun!

  11. Check out “Somerville” by David Misch, the guy who wrote and produced NYPD Blue was once a folkie. I know it’s an obscure city (Mass) but you can hear it here, if you like soft sarcasm:



    • Wonderful! I actually live in the next town over, so it’s not obscure at all. You might like Jonathan Coulton’s “Brookline” that Scott mentioned above (another town on the periphery of Boston, of course).

  12. I can think of a few more, despite people nailing some of my favorites already.

    Grandmaster Flash – The Message, another story about how NYC can suck.

    Dar Williams – Southern California Wants to be Western New York. Yes, Dar knows what all of us from WNY know, San Diego really just wants to be a lakeside region where it gets really, really cold sometimes.

    Vagiant – Fuck the Kells. Not about all of Boston, just about the worst part of a specific part of Allston. I couldn’t agree with them more.

    Fallout Countdown – The Blood’s in Your Backyard. My friends rail on our nation’s capital (their hometown) for being less than a stellar place sometimes.

  13. Nerissa & Katryna Nields, “This Town is Wrong” (about a fictional Boston equivalent, but close enough maybe?)

    Maybe stretching it a bit to states, but The Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone” doesn’t exactly express much love for Ohio.

    And in the same vein, “Connecticut Is For Fucking” by Jesus H Christ & The Four Hornsmen Of The Apocalypse. Which pretty much sums my little state up quite well. 🙂

    (I feel like there’s gotta be something not flattering about at least one town in Illinois on Sufjan Stevens’ “Illinois” … ?)

  14. While not about a specific city, I’ll add Flight of the Conchords’ “Inner City Pressure” to this list.

    Their songs are addicting, I can’t stop myself from hitting the repeat button one more time.

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