100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

Each song on a list of the top 100 hard rock songs needs to have distinguished itself above others. Opinions run strong among music fans, and while there may be great debate over which song is better, all of these songs have won awards, topped charts, made it on "all time greatest" lists from respected publications, or been the subject of diverse cover versions. Of course, the most important criterion for inclusion on your own personal list is whether or not you can answer the question "Does it rock?" with a resounding yes.

The 100 Greatest Hard Rock Song List

Narrowing down a list like this one is a tough task. Perhaps the clearest indication that a song is special is that it has passed the test of time, winning more and more listeners as the years go by. Consider this list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time, listed in alphabetical order by song title.

Song Title Artist Notes
1 American Woman The Guess Who A Vietnam-era song, American Woman features hard-driving rhythm guitar and controversial lyrics. The song spent a total of 15 weeks on the charts, hitting number one and staying there for three weeks.
2 Aqualung Jethro Tull Aqualung is one of Jethro Tull's most famous songs, though it was never released as a single. The album for which it is the title track reached the top ten in the United States and the top five in England, and the song appears on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs.
3 Back in Black AC/DC Celebrated by VH1 in second place on its list of Top 100 Hard Rock Songs, Back in Black was intended as a tribute to AC/DC's first lead singer. The song was also included on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the Greatest Songs of All Time.
4 Bad to the Bone George Thorogood The popularity of Bad to the Bone skyrocketed as a result of its video, which was put into regular rotation by MTV. It was then widely licensed for use in television, films, and commercials, adding to its appeal. The song hit number 27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
5 Barracuda Heart Barracuda is Heart's most famous song, defining the sound of the group. It sold over a million copies, and its lyrics are an indictment of the dark side of the music business. It's also a notable addition to VH1's Classic American Hard 100 list.
6 Basket Case Green Day Green Day's vocalist wrote Basket Case to talk about his difficulties with anxiety. While the song enjoys the 33rd spot on VH1s Greatest Hard Rock Songs list, it also hit the top of the Modern Rock Tracks chart, remained there for five weeks, and received a Grammy nomination.
7 Black Dog Led Zeppelin One of Led Zeppelin's signature songs, Black Dog is ranked at 300 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was named for a black dog seen wandering around the studio during a recording session.
8 Black Hole Sun Soundgarden Black Hole Sun is one of the most famous tunes from the 1990s and earned a Grammy award for Best Hard Rock Song. The surreal and captivating video for the song added to its memorability.
9 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen Bohemian Rhapsody, one of Queen's most celebrated songs, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2012, readers of Great Britain's Official Chart Company named it the nation's favorite number one.
10 Born to Be Wild Steppenwolf In its lyric "heavy metal thunder," Born to be Wild marked the first appearance of the term "heavy metal," helping to usher in a new era in rock music. The song peaked at number two on the charts, and also enjoys positions on VH1's Greatest Hard Rock Songs list as well as Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
11 Breaking the Law Judas Priest Making both VH1's hard rock lists Breaking the Law is probably Judas Priest's most widely-known track. The song helped push the band's album British Steel platinum.
12 Bring Me to Life Evanescence Bring Me to Life is Evanescence's breakout hit, which was featured in the movie Daredevil. It won the Grammy award for best hard rock performance in 2003.
13 Carry On Wayward Son Kansas Kansas had their first hit in Carry On Wayward Son. The popularity of the song is credited with launching the band's self-titled album to the top five on Billboard's Charts.
14 Cat Scratch Fever Ted Nugent Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever hit number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was voted onto VH1's list as the 32nd best hard rock song of all time.
15 Coming Home Cinderella Coming Home, one of Cinderella's most commercially successful songs, hit number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 13 on their Mainstream Rock chart.
16 Crazy on You Heart Crazy On You was one of Heart's first singles and it proved to be a hit, reaching number 35 on Billboard's Hot 100.
17 Crazy Train Ozzy Osbourne Crazy Train is a notable addition to both VH1 hard rock lists, and Loudwire's list of Top 10 Catchiest Metal Tunes. However, it's also important to note that the song proved that Ozzy Osbourne had it in him to be a celebrated solo act after leaving Black Sabbath.
18 Cult of Personality Living Colour Living Color's first single, Cult of Personality, remains their most widely-known song. It hit number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the band a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
19 Cum On Feel the Noize Quiet Riot Cum On Feel the Noize was originally written by rock group Slade, but it was Quiet Riot's version that hit number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 21 weeks on the charts. It ranks high on both of VH1's hard rock lists.
20 Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap AC/DC One of AC/DC's first smash hits, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap won the number 31 spot on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time, and peaked at number four on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart when it was released in 1981.
21 Don't Fear the Reaper Blue Oyster Cult Don't Fear the Reaper is Blue Oyster Cult's most successful song, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been widely used in film and television, and it was included on Rolling Stone's list of the top 500 songs of all time
22 Dr. Feelgood Motley Crue

Dr. Feelgood makes both of VH1's hard rock lists, and it is Motley Crue's first song to reach the top 10 on the Billboard charts, peaking at number six.

23 Dream Police Cheap Trick Dream Police, the title track from Cheap Trick's most successful album, reached the top 40 on Billboard's charts. The success of the song helped propel the album to platinum status shortly after it was released.
24 Enter Sandman Metallica Enter Sandman, an iconic head banger of a song, peaked at number 16 on the Billboard 100 chart and number 10 on Billboard's mainstream rock charts as well. The song has also garnered spots on lists of the best of the best, including Rolling Stone's list of the greatest songs of all time.
25 Eye of the Tiger Survivor Eye of the Tiger was written to be the theme song for the movie Rocky III. While it sits at #63 on VH1's great hard rock songs list, the song turned out to be a smash hit, reaching number one on the charts, where it remained for seven weeks.
26 Feel Like Makin' Love Bad Company Feel Like Makin' Love takes number 42 on Ultimate Classic Rock's top 100, peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, and won the 78th spot on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time.
27 Fortunate Son Creedance Clearwater Revival Originally released in 1969, Fortunate Son has truly stood the test of time and has been covered by acts as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Corrosion of Conformity, and Sleater-Kinney. It peaked at number 14 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and stayed there for four weeks.
28 Frankenstein The Edgar Winter Group A completely instrumental rock piece, Frankenstein reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Guitar maker Gibson lists it as one of the 10 Great Rock Guitar Instrumentals. It was one of the first rock songs in which the lead instrument was a synthesizer, which Winter wore strapped around his neck like a guitar.
29 Free Bird Lynyrd Skynyrd Because it's a long song its hit status surprised everybody, even Lynyrd Skynyrd. While VH1 lists the song as number 26 of the greatest rock songs of all time, Free Bird is also on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
30 Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones Though Gimme Shelter never was released as a single, it has become an iconic rock song and won a spot on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
31 Girls, Girls, Girls Motley Crue Girls, Girls, Girls peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its success helped the album for which it was named go all the way to number two on the Billboard 200. The video was originally banned by MTV for nudity.
32 Give It Away Red Hot Chili Peppers Give It Away was the Red Hot Chili Peppers' first number one single, reaching the top of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 1992, the song won the band their first Grammy award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
33 Hair of the Dog Nazareth Hair of the Dog, released in 1975, has become an iconic hard rock song. Its album peaked at number 17 on Billboard's Hot 200, and the song itself has been used in popular video games including Grand Theft Auto IV and Rock Band 2.
34 Head Like a Hole Nine Inch Nails Head Like a Hole, the song that propelled Nine Inch Nails to breakthrough success, reached number 28 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
35 Heartbreaker Pat Benatar Heartbreaker helped launch Pat Benatar's album In the Heat of the Night to platinum status. The song has been covered multiple times and comes in at number 72 on VH1s list of the greatest rock songs of all time.
36 Helter Skelter The Beatles With its head banging, aggressive sound, Helter Skelter is widely considered to be an early prototype of heavy metal. Q Magazine includes this classic tune on their list of 100 songs that changed the world.
37 Holy Diver Dio The title track of Dio's debut album Holy Diver reached number 40 on Billboard's mainstream rock chart and was awarded the number 43 spot on VH1's list of the best all-time hard rock songs.
38 Hot Blooded Foreigner Hot Blooded was one of Foreigner's greatest hits, peaking at number three on Billboard's Hot 100. The single quickly reached platinum status and has made many cameos throughout the years in films and on television.
39 Hot for Teacher Van Halen Hot for Teacher reached number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the number 36 spot on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs. The iconic tune has been covered by Glee, and makes an appearance in Guitar Hero World Tour.
40 I Can't Drive 55 Sammy Hagar I Can't Drive 55 skyrocketed to fame due to its popular music video. The song is widely used in automobile racing promotional material, and it appears on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time.
41 I Love Rock 'n Roll Joan Jett & the Blackhearts I Love Rock and Roll reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven weeks. As a single, I Love Rock and Roll went platinum and launched Joan Jett's successful career as a solo artist.
42 Interstate Love Song Stone Temple Pilots Interstate Love Song reached the number one spot on Billboard's modern rock tracks chart and stayed there for fifteen weeks, in addition to making the Top 40. It also holds the 56th spot on VH1's greatest hard rock list.
43 Iron Man Black Sabbath On its release, Iron Man reached number 52 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song appears on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and comes in at 19 on VH1's classic American hard rock list.
44 Jane Jefferson Starship Jane peaked at number 14 on Billboard's Hot 100, and its success helped keep Jefferson Starship in the limelight with its new lead singer.
45 Jeremy Pearl Jam Jeremy was one of Pearl Jam's most successful songs. It reached number five on both Billboard's Mainstream and Modern Rock charts and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.
46 Jump Van Halen Jump was Van Halen's first song to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The video added to the popularity of the song and the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame notes it as one of the songs that helped shape rock 'n roll.
47 Just What I Needed The Cars Just What I Needed, one of the Cars' most popular singles from their fabulously successful debut album, reached number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains a favorite at classic rock radio stations.
48 Kashmir Led Zeppelin Celebrated by Led Zeppelin as one of their highest musical achievements, Kashmir has received numerous honors, including spots on VH1's Greatest Rock Songs of All Time and Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
49 Kiss Me Deadly Lita Ford Kiss Me Deadly peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charted there for a whopping 23 weeks. The song also holds spots on both of VH1's hard rock lists.
50 L.A.Woman The Doors L.A. Woman, the title track of the album by the same name, has stood the test of time, enduring as a staple of classic rock radio. In 2012, the album was released as a 40th anniversary edition.
51 Legs ZZ Top Legs reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for 19 weeks. Perhaps it was the song's humorous video, which won the MTV Best Group Video award, that helped propel it to recognizable success.
52 Light My Fire The Doors One of the Doors' most famous songs, Light My Fire, peaked at the number one spot on the Billboard charts and sits at number 35 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Hits of All Time. In addition, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame notes it as one of the songs that shaped rock 'n roll.
53 Livin' on a Prayer Bon Jovi Livin' on a Prayer was a smash hit for Bon Jovi, hitting number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the mainstream rock charts. It also occupies the top slot on VH1's Classic American Hard list.
54 Love Bites (So Do I) Halestrom Peaking at number sixteen on Billboard's rock songs chart, Love Bites also won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.
55 Magic Carpet Ride Steppenwolf An iconic hard rock song, Magic Carpet Ride hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100. Throughout the years, it has appeared in numerous cameos in film, television, and commercials, and consequently, is as familiar to people today as it was when it was released.
56 Manic Depression Jimi Hendrix Manic Depression, from Jimi Hendrix's acclaimed album Are You Experienced, has become a hard rock classic and has been covered by artists as diverse as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, and Styx.
57 Middle of the Road The Pretenders Middle of the Road, one of The Pretenders' greatest hits, peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and spent fourteen weeks there.
58 Mississippi Queen Mountain Mississippi Queen was Mountain's most successful single reaching number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Over the years it has become a classic, appearing in films, television shows, and video games.
59 Money Pink Floyd Money peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has won numerous accolades, appearing on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time (June 2008) and Guitar World's list of the Greatest 100 Guitar Solos.
60 My Generation The Who Over the years My Generation has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the number 11 slot on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
61 Once Bitten, Twice Shy Great White Once Bitten, Twice Shy was a tremendous hit for Great White, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, earning a spot on VH1's Classic American Hard list, and garnering the band a Grammy nomination.
62 Paradise City Guns N' Roses With a catchy riff and bridge, Paradise City reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and has won numerous accolades, including a mention on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
63 Paranoid Black Sabbath Paranoid was placed at number four by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs of all time. It stayed on Billboard's Hot 100 for 10 weeks, going as high as number 61.
64 Pinball Wizard The Who Pinball Wizard reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been covered many times throughout the years by a wide variety of artists, including the Flaming Lips, Elton John, and Guns 'n Roses.
65 Photograph Def Leppard When it was released, Def Leppard's Photograph reached the top spot on Billboard's mainstream rock chart. Despite being a few decades old, the song is well-known due to its use in popular video games like Guitar Hero.
66 Pour Some Sugar On Me Def Leppard One of Def Leppard's most wildly successful songs, Pour Some Sugar On Me peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song helped propel the British band to American stardom.
67 Purple Haze Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze has become an enduring paragon of rock from the 70s. While the song only reached number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart when it was released, Jimi Hendrix's amazing guitar work earned him a spot on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of songs that changed rock and roll. Rolling Stone also gave it high honors, placing it at number 17 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
68 Radar Love Golden Earring Radar Love reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for 20 weeks. What makes it particularly notable though, is that Radar Love has been covered more than 500 times by artists as diverse as Def Leppard, Blue Man Group, and Carlos Santana.
69 Rebel Yell Billy Idol Rebel Yell hit number six on the UK Singles Charts and placed 79th on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time.
70 Rock and Roll All Nite Kiss The live version of Rock 'n' Roll All Nite peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has become an iconic rock and roll song, winning the number 16 spot on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs ever. It has become the band's signature song, closing out almost all of their concerts since it's release in 1976.
71 Rock You Like a Hurricane Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane reached number five on Billboard's top rock tracks chart and has been celebrated by VH1 on its list of the greatest hard rock songs and on its 'Classic America's Hard' list.
72 Round and Round Ratt Round and Round peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and appears on both of VH1's lists of best rock songs.
73 Runnin' with the Devil Van Halen Noted on the Rock 'n Roll hall of fame's list of songs that helped shape rock music, this song also earned VH1's 9th spot on its list of Greatest Hard Rock Songs.
74 Run To the Hills Iron Maiden Run to the Hills marked Iron Maiden's first top ten hit in Great Britain, and the song appears on both of VH1's lists of great hard rock songs. The song is featured in three different video game soundtracks.
75 Satisfaction The Rolling Stones Satisfaction was the Rolling Stones' first number one hit song in the United States. It became such a celebrated rock song that Rolling Stone put it in the number two slot of their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame lists it as one of the songs that helped shape Rock 'n Roll.
76 Schism Tool A cult classic, Schism peaked at number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for an amazing 16 weeks. The song was honored with a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
77 School's Out Alice Cooper School's Out was Alice Cooper's first smash hit, and it reached number two on the Billboard charts. It claims the number 35 spot on VH1's list of the best hard rock songs of all time.
78 Sharp Dressed Man ZZ Top Sharp Dressed Man reached the eighth spot on Billboard's mainstream rock chart. The music video for the song was in heavy rotation on MTV and won the band many new fans.
79 Should I Stay or Should I Go The Clash Should I Stay or Should I Go reached stayed on Billboard's Hot 100 for a whopping 23 weeks, reaching #45, and Rolling Stone included it on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
80 Silent Lucidity Queensryche Silent Lucidity, a song about lucid dreaming, peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The video won an MTV Viewer's Choice Award.
81 Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana Nirvana's hit song Smells Like Teen Spirit stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 20 weeks, peaking at number six. Widely considered the anthem for Generation X, Smells Like Teen Spirit made the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame's list of songs that helped shape rock. It has also inspired cover versions from artists as diverse as Tori Amos and Paul Anka, and it was parodied by Weird Al Yankovic.
82 Smoke on the Water Deep Purple Smoke on the Water, an iconic hard rock song, was included by Rolling Stone on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame honored it with a place on its list of songs that shaped Rock 'n Roll.
83 Smoking in the Boy's Room Motley Crue Originally written by Brownsville Station, Smoking in the Boy's Room turned out to be a hard rock hit when Motley Crue covered it. The song peaked at number seven on Billboard's mainstream rock chart, and went to number 16 on Billboard's Hot 100.
84 Spin the Black Circle Pearl Jam From Pearl Jam's third album Vitalogy, Spin the Black Circle won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.
85 Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin One of the most popular hard rock songs of all time, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin was never actually released as a single. Instead, the song became a favorite at FM radio stations since it suited their album-oriented format. For many fans of Led Zeppelin, the song seems to encapsulate the spirit of the band. Stairway to Heaven resides at number 31 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is on the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame's list of songs that helped shape rock music.
86 Sweet Emotion Aerosmith Sweet Emotion, Aerosmith's breakthrough single, reached number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, helping to pave the way for their success as one of the best-known hard rock bands. The song has become a staple of classic rock radio and holds the 416th slot on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
87 Sympathy for the Devil The Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil, a classic of hard rock, honed up the Rolling Stones' image as naughty boys when it was released. It appears at number 32 on Rolling Stone's list of the greatest songs of all time.
88 The Final Countdown Europe The Final Countdown charted in the number one slot in countries all over the world and reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. It also takes the 66th slot on VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs. To this day, it remains a favorite at sporting events.
89 The Hand that Feeds Nine Inch Nails The Hand That Feeds, Nine Inch Nails' most successful song, hit number one on Billboard's modern rock tracks chart, number two on the mainstream rock chart, and number 31 on the Hot 100.
90 The Pretender Foo Fighters Peaking at number 37 on Billboard's Hot 100, The Pretender stayed on the chart for an impressive 20 weeks. The song also won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.
91 The Stroke Billy Squier The Stroke was a tremendous hit for Billy Squier, peaking at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching number three on Billboard's mainstream rock chart. It won the number 59 spot on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs.
92 Tom Sawyer Rush Tom Sawyer, a cult classic and one of Rush's most widely-known songs, appears at number 19 on VH1's list of the greatest hard rock songs of all time. It was also inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
93 Violet Hole Violet was honored by Blender with the number 116 spot on its 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born list. After its release, the song reached number 29 on the Billboard modern rock tracks chart.
94 Walk This Way Aerosmith Walk This Way helped introduce Aerosmith's sound to the world. When it was first released in 1977, it made the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It sits at the number eight spot on VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock songs, and is number 346 on Rolling Stone's list of all-time greatest songs.
95 We're Not Gonna Take It Twisted Sister We're Not Gonna Take It reached number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, and spent 15 weeks on the chart overall. VH1 ranked it 47th on their list of the 100 greatest 80s songs.
96 Welcome to the Jungle Guns N' Roses Welcome to the Jungle was voted number one on VH1's Top 100 Hard Rock Songs, and ranks 473rd on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was Guns N' Roses' second single from their album Appetite for Destruction, and it placed seventh on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
97 What's Your Name? Lynyrd Skynyrd What's Your Name?, one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's best-known songs, reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for a whopping 13 weeks.
98 Whole Lotta Love Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love was Led Zeppelin's first single to be released in the United States, and it peaked at number four on Billboard's Hot 100 and stayed on the charts for 15 weeks. It appears at number 75 on Rolling Stone's list of greatest songs.
99 You Really Got Me The Kinks In its musical structure, You Really Got Me is widely regarded as a template for hard rock, since it was the first hit rock song to be built around power chords. The song reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and it is noted on the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame's list of songs that shaped rock music.
100 You Shook Me All Night Long AC/DC You Shook Me All Night Long, an iconic hard rock and metal song, reached number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is on VH1's list of Classic American Hard Rock.

Your Favorites

Whether or not any song rocks is a subjective opinion, and a song that one listener thinks is the perfect hard rock anthem might seem to be heavy metal to another listener. By the same token, one person's favorite hard rock song might seem to be progressive or classic rock to someone else. With so many great rock songs out there, no single list can be all-inclusive. Start here and make your own playlist of the 100 greatest hard rock tracks.

100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs