Well the OC is done and gone, but I actually purchased this final tome in the OC soundtrack lineup when it first came out in December 06. As the show's quality declined, I have to say, so did its integration of music. While the first two seasons had fabulous new artists constantly introduced - and in many cases reused - the show's tunes in the latter seasons, particularly S4, fell victim to the desire for elevator, tuneless, tracks rather than melodic and memorable musical screen moments. As such, a lot of songs on this album have a sort of limp feel to them...plenty are skippable, few are memorable, and they don't really depart in some cases from their originals.
Which leads me to the schtick of this album...the songs are all covers of actual songs - I believe most (if not all) of the original songs were at one point aired on the OC, as were the covers of them. I've done my best to try and identify where, because in all fairness, it's a bit easier than past soundtracks (the 5th springs to mind) to place where you heard the songs this time.
Goldspot's cover of Modest Mouse's "Float On" is one of the most enjoyable and replayable tunes - and played during a montage of Katelin & Julie Cooper battling it out on the tennis courts. I'm guessing the original played during MM's appearance at the Bait Shop S2.
Rock Kills Kid's cover of "I Turn My Camera On" is a ridiculously close cover of the original...no clue when either version was aired. Lady Sovereign's "Pretty Vacant" Sex Pistols take is pretty much nothing like the original. I think they used these during party scenes...
I actually kind of dig the mellow version of the show's title song "California" although this is the third time the song has appeared on an OC soundtrack (the 5th features a redux version by Phantom Planet). This song replaced the credits in the S4 Chrismakkuh ep. Ditto to enjoying Pinback's "Wasted" although it like "I Turn My Camera On" comes across very monotone after a few listens. The original Wasted by Black Flag aired during Seth's stoner 'phase' in S3.
Probably my fave song on the album aside from Goldspot's cover is John Paul White's "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", a really sweet cover of an originally quite schmultzy tune. No idea when either version aired on the show, and I'm sorry I missed it in the case of the cover version.
Although I'm usually a big fan of Rogue Wave (their contribution to the 5th album is fab) their song "Debaser" rings very familiar - partially because it features the same monotone + instrument formula found in "Camera" and "Wasted". No real memory of when either version of the song aired sadly. I do heart the Pixies though.
Syd Matters cover of "Hello Sunshine" is another fave of mine. It's just so eclectic and different sounding - just wait till the final couple of choruses for the background chords...gorgeous. The original tune has a lot of meaning for Seth/Summer - as per it played when they first hooked up, and the cover I believe played during some of Seth & Summer's parting moments in the latter half of S4.
I also dug the cover of the Killers "Smile Like You Mean It", which also originally appeared on the second soundtrack with "Hello Sunshine". The original tune came on during the Killers Bait Shop concert. Although the alien sound effects in the chorus of this version aren't to my liking, I suppose the airing of the tune during the kids desert alien road trip was suitable, and overall it's an enjoyable cover.
"Come Into Our Room" has never been a song I've liked - it aired during the Oliver stuff in S1, and the cover is a sloppy steal rather than a true cover. Passed over nearly every time I listen to this disc. I'm also not a massive fan of "The End's Not Near" despite the fact it was the title of the final ep of the series. I just don't like the vocals on this, and otherwise it again sounds like a sloppy ripoff of the original, or at least a bad ripoff of the Smiths.
Finally the album closes out with the epic 9 minute version of Mazzy Star's "Into Dust" as played by Ashtar Command. The song of course originally aired several times in the Marissa/Ryan relationship, most notably in the first episode when he carries her in the house, and the last episode of the S1 'summer season' in Tijuana when Ryan carries Marissa down the alley. I believe this cover also aired during the Chrismakkah ep in S4. Although I think Ashtar Command gets a bit carried away with themselves and loses some of the vulnerability of the original, this is a nice mellow cap-off to the cd.
Overall this album is a mixture of a couple of solid songs (1, 6, 8, 9), a few soundalikes that would make good background tunes for a TV show like the OC (2, 5, 7), a couple of blah covers (3, 10, 11), and a couple of worthy covers of key OC-lore songs (4, 12). It's a good addition to people who own the rest of the series, but otherwise not really worthy of its predecessors.