Los Angeles Is Burning

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"Los Angeles Is Burning"
Single by Bad Religion
from the album The Empire Strikes First
Released April 27, 2004
Format CD
Recorded November 2003 - February 2004 at Sound City in Los Angeles, California
Genre Punk rock, pop punk
Length 3:23
Label Epitaph Records
Writer(s) Brett Gurewitz
Producer(s) Brett Gurewitz
Greg Graffin
Bad Religion singles chronology
"The Defense" "Los Angeles Is Burning" "The Empire Strikes First"

"Los Angeles Is Burning" is a single by the punk rock band Bad Religion from their 2004 album The Empire Strikes First. "Los Angeles Is Burning" was released to radio on April 27, 2004.[1] The song reached number 40 on the Modern Rock Tracks in July 2004.[2]

Meaning and composition[edit]

According to bassist Jay Bentley[citation needed], the lyrics argue that the media is sensationalistic. The music video features men with cameras replacing their heads firing flame into the animated landscape of Los Angeles. It was written at a time when there was a major fire nearby, the Cedar Fire of late 2003, but Bentley makes clear that the song was using the fire as a metaphor.

Music video[edit]

The music video is shot in cut-out animation and depicts a man in a track singlet and shorts with a Crossbuster (Bad Religion's logo which features a black cross with a red prohibition sign over it) on it running through an apocalyptic Los Angeles. People with cameras replacing their heads shoot fire out their mouths. Frontman Greg Graffin plays a psychotic newsreporter which reads messages like "We're not trying to brainwash you". In the end the entire city goes up in flames.


  • Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers contributed to the guitar on this track.[3]
  • The song also makes a reference to the first Bad Religion album, "more a question than a curse, how could hell be any worse?".
  • In an ironic twist, the song has been repeatedly used by America's NBA to promote the Los Angeles Lakers when they are flourishing, choosing the 'burning' imagery in connection when players get 'on fire', instead of the darker, truer meaning of the song.

7" Picture Disk Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Los Angeles is Burning" Gurewitz 3:23
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Surface of Me" Graffin 3:01


Chart (2004) Peak
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 40
UK Singles Chart 67


  1. ^ "FMQB Airplay Archive: Modern Rock". Friday Morning Quarterback Album Report, Incorporated. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  2. ^ Billboard
  3. ^ The Empire Strikes First (liner notes). Bad Religion. US: Epitaph Records. 2004. 86694. 

External links[edit]