20 Of The Best Music Moments On "One Tree Hill"

Damn you, Mark Schwahn, you evil genius.

20. Run DMC, “It’s Tricky”

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Episode: “Resolve” (Season 4, Episode 12)
I should warn you, most of the songs on this list are paired with some pretty emotional — and often tragic — scenes. But this fun number was the perfect combination of silly and lightheartedness in between those heart attacks and point shaving scandals of the infamous season four.

19. The Verve Pipe, “The Freshmen”

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Episode: “Four Years, Six Months, Two Days” (Season 5, Episode 1)
We can’t recognize some of our favorite OTH favs in the season five opener, both physically (LOL Nathan looks like a lion) and emotionally (Peyton dumped Lucas, ugh). But this song perfectly echoed the gutting nostalgia we felt as we realized those promises made on the river court four years ago maybe didn’t hold up.

18. The Replacements, “Here Comes A Regular”

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Episode: “The Wind That Blew My Heart Away” (Season 3, Episode 13)
This song cruelly teases us as we watch Peyton’s benefit CD finally arrive, while simultaneously we see Ellie succumb to her illness. Like I said, tragedy. (But does anyone kinda laugh at Peyton’s horror/surprise face? Sorry, that’s probably just me being mean.)

17. Tyler Hilton, “Glad”

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Episode: “We Might As Well Be Strangers” (Season 2, Episode 6)
Most people either love or hate Chris Keller but I, personally, enjoy him. Especially here in his debut appearance on the show. This music moment introduces his electric voice and scene-stealing abilities.

16. Dashboard Confessional, “Hands Down”

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Episode: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
I’m a sucker for a good meet cute, especially when it’s soundtracked to the teen-angsty Dashboard Confessional. Peyton nearly runs over Lucas, and Nathan almost crashes into a moving train, but it’s ultimately a fun scene with this song in the background.

15. Switchfoot, “Dare You To Move”

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Episode: “The Search for Something More” (Season 1, Episode 9)
One of the most iconic Naley moments, enough said.

14. The Honorary Title, “Stay Away”

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Episode: “It Gets The Worst At Night” (Season 4, Episode 17)
Ah, The Road Mix. This alt-rock tune plays in the wake of the gang’s successful rescue mission, but also darkly entices us to know more about the mysterious Abby Brown, the girl Lucas discovers was in the hallway on that ill-fated day.

13. Gavin DeGraw, “I Don’t Want To Be”

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Episode: “You Gotta Go There To Come Back” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Basketball, friendship, sexual tension, and a great song (the golden formula of OTH). This scene includes all of that, and brings magic back to the Ravens as they rediscover the meaning of the game. And it’s soundtracked to the show’s theme song. Full circle, yo.

12. The Foo Fighters, “Times Like These”

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Episode: “The Birth and Death of the Day” (Season 4, Episode 20)
You knew the graduation scene had to have a kick-ass song, and it definitely did. This Foo Fighters tune aptly reflects the milestone moment in the lives of these teens, and the impending changes that will come with it. Like, uh, Haley going into labor during her valedictorian speech. (Nathan standing up in a sea of his fellow graduates to acknowledge this always gets me.)

11. Nada Surf, “Always Love”

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Episode: “First Day On A Brand New Planet” (Season 3, Episode 3)
This is one of those songs that you’ll always associate with OTH, especially since it’s used multiple times throughout the series. But the first is the most memorable. Most notably we discover that Brooke’s been writing letters to Lucas all summer… and not sending them. And most adorably we see Nathan stand up for Haley at school and gently put his hand on her back, letting us all know that Naley isn’t over yet.

10. The Go! Team, “Huddle Formation”

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Episode: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (Season 3, Episode 14)
In one of the happiest OTH scenes, Brooke realizes the importance of being a kid and purposefully messes up the Ravens cheerleading routine for the heck of it. What results is goofy dance scene that you can’t help but smile to. It’s one of those rare blissful moments that the show meagerly hands out, and there’s no better song that fits it than this one.

9. Michelle Featherstone, “God Bless The Child”

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Episode: “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept” (Season 3, Episode 16)
This unforgettable episode obviously makes this list, especially with Michelle Featherstone’s haunting ballad. It would be ranked higher, but the actual subject matter in this scene is more powerful than any song could ever make it.

8. Tyler Hilton, “Missing You”

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Episode: “The Wind That Blew My Heart Away” (Season 3, Episode 13)
Another iconic Naley moment. “I was hurt, Haley. But I was still proud of you. Everyday.” #bye

7. Ray LaMontage, “Within You”

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Episode: “All Of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” (Season 4, Episode 21)
Slow motion montage of our favorite characters as they hang out for one last time in the place that started it all? It sounds impossible to handle. Fact: You will cry if you watch the video.

6. Jose Gonzalez, “Heartbeats”

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Episode: “Some You Give Away” (Season 4, Episode 9)
One of OTH’s best episodes, of course, delivers multiple memorable music moments (woahhh alliteration). Most notably is the moment the Ravens finally take that state championship title. There’s no background noise amongst the commotion, just this song. And it delivers everything we hoped it would: A beaming Whitey, a Lucas and Peyton reunion, a sweet Naley moment. That’s all you really need in life.

5. Devics, “If We Cannot See”

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Episode: “Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them” (Season 3, Episode 17)
Die-hard fans of the show might tend to skip over this episode because it’s just so sad (RIP Keith). But I think it’s one of the show’s best, and it shows with this incredibly moving scene — paired with a beautiful song — where Lucas makes the decision to attend the funeral of the boy he thinks killed his uncle. Why? “It’s what Keith would have wanted.” *sobs*

4. La Rocca, “Non-Believer”

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Episode: “Songs to Love and Die By” (Season 4, Episode 10)
Do you ever thank the TV shows you watch for letting you discover some of your favorite songs? Maybe that’s just me being weird, but this is one of my favorite songs and I only found out about it through OTH. The somber violin chords mixed with the upbeat “do-do-do’s” make for a unique song that is aptly paired with a powerful scene: Lucas finally wakes up from his coma.

3. Live, “Lightning Crashes”

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Episode: “All Of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” (Season 4, Episode 21)
The penultimate episode of season four kicks off on a meaningful, yet silent note. In slow motion we watch as the recent grads of Tree Hill High rush a labor-induced Haley out to an ambulance. And as the once peaceful song builds to a powerful climax, so does the scene: Lucas screams for his mom to hang on during life-threatening surgery.

2. The Who, “Baba O’Riley”

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Episode: “Pictures of You” (Season 4, Episode 13)
The iconic song is the perfect end to “Pictures of You,” which showcases the dreams, desires and fears of the Tree Hill High senior class in a stand-alone kind of episode. The addition of the various voiceovers only adds to the power of this teen anthem of a song.

1. Led Zeppelin, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”

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Episode: “The Show Must Go On” (Season 3, Episode 22)
Fun fact: This scene was one of the first times a Led Zeppelin song had been licensed for network television! The chaotic guitar chords and the shrieking of Robert Plant make the season three closer an unforgettable one as it reflects the tumultuous nature of the lives of everyone in Tree Hill: Dan discovers someone knows his darkest secret, Peyton and Brooke are no longer friends, someone is unexpectedly pregnant, Rachel and Cooper crash the limo into a river, Nathan dives in after them, and Haley is screaming her head off. This scene definitely would not have had the same effect without this song, and isn’t that what makes the best music moment? (Second fun fact: You will never be able to watch this scene without getting chills.)

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