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13 of the Best Songs on the ‘One Tree Hill’ Soundtrack

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Ever since watching One Tree Hill for the first time in middle school, I have been absolutely obsessed. I’ve rewatched the show countless times, and no matter how many times I’ve seen it, it never gets old. I feel so connected to the show as a whole, as well as each of the characters, and I almost feel like I’ve grown up with them.

Something that sets One Tree Hill apart from other shows is its one-of-a-kind soundtrack. Music is a major point in the show — specifically to one of the main characters, Peyton Sawyer, and her endless record collection — but also in the thematic elements that make One Tree Hill what it is: a show of teen angst, heartbreak, redemption, and discovering the world.

As a heads up: the following scenes described with the songs do mention some spoilers!

“Heartbeats” – Jose Gonzalez

A personal favorite of mine, “Heartbeats” plays after the Tree Hill basketball team wins the state championship after a long season of struggle. Lucas declares his love for Peyton in the midst of confetti and celebrating the win, making it one of the most joyous moments in the whole series.

“Lightning Crashes” – Live

As Haley goes into labor during the cast’s high school graduation and Lucas’ mom is also in the hospital, these lyrics really convey the emotions of the scenes.

“Hands Down” – Dashboard Confessional

A song sure to be on Peyton Sawyer’s playlist, this song mirrors the angst in the pilot of One Tree Hill perfectly.

“Times Like These (Live)” – Foo Fighters

The nostalgia of this song is the perfect background music as the cast walks across the stage to receive their diplomas at high school graduation.

“Dare You To Move” – Switchfoot

This song appears multiple times in the series at important moments, marking it a classic OTH song.

“Belief” – Gavin DeGraw

This plays as Lucas defies all the odds stacked against him, finally playing with the Tree Hill Ravens basketball team.

“Wedding Dress” – Matt Nathanson

Lucas and Peyton’s wedding was one to remember after seasons of back and forth dating, drama, and breakups, and this song clearly matches the event perfectly by its name.

“Sidewalks” – Story Of The Year

This song has no particular connection to a certain scene but is an iconic One Tree Hill song that I love.

“Work” – Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World is a popular band in the One Tree Hill world, appearing many times throughout each season.

“Everybody’s Changing” – Keane

Multiple scenes are built into this song, including Nathan and Haley’s wedding party, truly showing that everybody is changing.

“The Mixed Tape” – Jack’s Mannequin

This is just one of many songs performed at the famous Tric nightclub in Tree Hill, but it’s one of my favorites.

“Non Believer” – La Rocca

While Keith comforts Lucas in a dream after his near-death experience, this song creates a feeling of hope while waiting for Lucas to wake up.

“I Don’t Want To Be” – Gavin DeGraw

Last but not least, this is the song everyone thinks of when they think of One Tree Hill. The theme song is not to be forgotten by any OTH fans.

There are hundreds of songs in the One Tree Hill soundtrack that are worthy of being mentioned, but these are the 13 that stick out to me every time I rewatch the series. Next time you watch an episode, be sure to appreciate the soundtrack and possibly find some of your own new favorite 2000s songs!

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Elizabeth Tait

U Mass Amherst '24

Elizabeth is a senior editor and content writer at UMass Amherst, double majoring in psychology and sociology. In her free time, she loves reading, watching sunrises at the beach, making Spotify playlists, baking, and traveling.