From Seth Cohen introducing The O.C.’s network TV audience to Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse to what may be Lady Gaga’s first-ever television appearance on The Hills, 2000s teen television was not short on era-defining bands, nor music budgets, to help create their worlds. Ahead, you’ll find 10 of the most underrated, iconic musical cameos of 2000s teen television.
Avril Lavigne performs “Sk8er Boi” because it’s 2002. The performance, was removed from the DVD version but is still available on YouTube. Magic, indeed!
In one of the only episodes where Rory is kind of fun, she and Paris go to Miami for spring break, where The Shins are playing “Saint Simon” in a club. The most iconic part is that they play an entire 2:30 song, but the second most iconic part is that afterwards Paris kisses Rory.
The O.C. had some of the greatest musical cameos of all time, including Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, and Rooney thanks to Seth Cohen’s music taste, the show’s Bait Shop boardwalk venue and a really good music supervisor. Modest Mouse plays “Paper Thin Walls” and “The View,” which are nowhere near their most famous songs, and Seth says, “It’s not Metallica, it’s Modest Mouse.”
Sleater-Kinney play “Jumper,” as Shane, answers a call from Alice and holds her flip phone up in the air so she can hear the band playing in a scene where I have never seen people having more fun at a fake concert. Bonus points because this was shortly before the band’s eight-year hiatus.
This scene alone captures the fantastic, chaotic dissociative world that is Skins, in this episode where Tony and Sid go to a club and Sid slowly has a meltdown while realizing the shock of his dad’s death, while Crystal Castles performs “Alice Practice,” which is a pretty fair song to have a meltdown during.
Hearts are broken, characters are friend-zoned, and drama ensues as Natasha Bedingfield performs her most famous song at a prom that looks like it didn’t suck because it’s actually more of a concert and everyone’s singing along to “Unwritten.”
Lady Gaga performed at a West Hollywood nightclub on The Hills in a quintessential 2009 cameo, where Lauren and Whitney sew her into a vinyl hooded catsuit after her zipper breaks before she launches into “Lovegame.” This is lightning bolt painted on cheek-era Gaga, where she even has to be identified onscreen as an “Interscope Recording Artist,” in what may be the only scene Gaga is ever in where she’s the least famous person in the room.
Sonic Youth perform an acoustic version of “Starpower,” in a very cool, stripped down performance, which nobody appreciates it because they’re running around dealing with their drama and Sonic Youth are probably friends with Rufus Humphrey anyway. Oh, and Kim Gordon officiates a wedding.
Zooey Deschanel freely takes opportunities to do her own vocal cameos on New Girl, but in this episode, the show gets the ultimate cameo from Prince himself, just two years before his death. Jess and Cece get invited to a party at his house where he performs, bringing Jess onstage to sing his new song “FALLINLOVE2NITE.” If you’re wondering how all this happened, it might be because the episode premiered after the Superbowl.