For me, someone whose life has been permeated by their music since día uno, the news that Foo Fighters will be turning 25 this month doesn’t really come as a surprise. If anything, it’s felt like longer, especially considering the sheer volume of pop culture-transcending anthems that they’ve packed in that time. However, for anyone who isn’t a mere fetus, that entire sentence and, indeed, the concept of 1995 being 25 years ago, will age you quicker than Walter Donovan.
Sure, in that time, a lot has happened; you can’t smoke in pubs, MTV has gone drastically downhill and blackface isn’t okay anymore (who knew?!?!?!). That said, the Foos music has always been a constant source of good vibes for any fan, even if they surprisingly divide opinion like they do (who’d’ve thought people didn’t like good vibes?). Anywhom, whether you’re the twiddling asshole who naysays anything post-Everlong, the Radio 1 vegetable who finds The Pretender a notch on the heavy side, or my own mother, whose personal fascination with Dave Grohl is bordering on Misery-levels, Foo Fighters has a song that’ll get you shout-singing-along regardless of drunkenness — here are 50 of their best.
50. Big Me (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Fittingly, we kick off with an early single, and one of their most beloved. Accompanied by a fun, light-hearted video, the song’s mellow groove and sugary melodies make for one of the band’s more pleasant, if decidedly tame, offerings.
49. Up In Arms (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
Initially a sleepy make-out jam, the soft intro to Up In Arms quickly parts in favour of a rollicking power-pop storm. Taking nods from genre-stalwerts like Buzzcocks, as well as their pop-punk contemporaries at the time, the track is undeniably simple but an engrained head-bopper all the same.
48. Come Alive (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Like a smattering of songs from Echoes, my personal favourite Foo Fighters album, Come Alive follows an easily identifiable structure, its acoustic-backed intro building into a dynamic, electric conclusion. However, while there is a predictability in that, Grohl’s ingenious flair of melodies and hooks makes it an enjoyable listen every time.
47. Something From Nothing (Sonic Highways, 2014)
Despite Sonic Highways‘ cheeky habit of riff-lifting (which is present here in the form of a particular Dio pastiche), lead single Something From Nothing, in all its heart-in-chest roaring, has, more than any other track on that release, that je-ne-sais-Foo which keeps it from the low lows the album reaches.
46. Run (Concrete & Gold, 2017)
Leading the proceedings for Concrete & Gold, it’s fair to say that Run, with its familiar structure and gnarly heaviness, was a very welcome return to form following the aforementioned Sonic Highways. The dreamy, delicate verses here are replaced with a filfffy, swaggering beast of a riff, while Taylor’s drumming throughout is varied and enthralling.
45. The Deepest Blues Are Black (In Your Honor, 2005)
An oft-derided track from an oft-derided Foos album, The Deepest Blues Are Black, while, like many songs from this era, not showcasing Dave’s strongest lyrical stylings, the swaying, ascending chord progression in the hook is very nice on the ear, especially when coupled with the frontman’s impassioned performance.
44. Stacked Actors (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
Whether you love it or hate it, most fans can agree that there is not much out there that sounds like Stacked Actors in the band’s discography. While there isn’t much out of the ordinary in the chorus’ throttling guitars and pummelling snares, the verses carry a slinky, dare-I-say seductive, groove, with the dexterous bassline and Dave’s whispered vocals making me feel a little bit uncomfortable, but also not so uncomfortable that I wouldn’t rip a spleen out when the bridge hits.
43. Bridge Burning (Wasting Light, 2011)
Speaking of ripping a spleen out when Bridge hits (get it?), this cut from Wasting Light sports, and I say this completely sans-hyperbole, one of the century’s best rock intros. While the song goes all the way down to mediocrity after that point, the opening 45 seconds of this song — the hyping drum roll, the gritty, descending guitar lead, Dave’s air raid scream — rock music rarely gets better.
42. Dirty Water (Concrete & Gold, 2017)
One of the deepest cuts from Concrete & Gold, this song, for me, is one of the group’s defining tracks as a now-6-man outfit, with each member’s contribution (apart from Nate’s tragically under-mixed bass but that’s a rant for another day) being very prominent, notably Rami’s synths, which give the middle-8 an old-school-electro feel, over hard rock guitars, of course.
41. Let It Die (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Admittedly similar structurally to the previously-mentioned Come Alive, it’s once again the catchy melodies of Let It Die that land it on this list. It seems like at this point in time, the band could come up with imaginative acoustic guitar compositions just by looking at one.
40. Floaty (Foo Fighters, 1995)
There aren’t many songs that sonically capture the feel of their title like Floaty does. The rolling rhythms and airy production make the song feel as light as a drifting feather, while the heavier guitars in the chorus give everything a bit of bite as well.
39. Free Me (In Your Honor, 2005)
From the audacious vocals in Free Me‘s opening moments, it’s evident that this album cut is taking very little prisoners. Taylor’s driving, busy drumming keeps a rapid pulse to this one, even in its quieter parts, while the building heaviness comes to an explosive head by the end.
38. Weenie Beenie (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Not to paint the debut as mellow by my previous entries on its tracks, Weenie Beenie is one of a few songs on the album that qualify among their heaviest ever. The city-levelling rhythm guitars, as well as the shredding lead that surfs over it, are just a small piece of the heavy metal puzzle that makes up this track, along with the indecipherable distorted screaming and the mammoth drums.
37. Hell (In Your Honor, 2005)
Alongside In Your Honor‘s title track, Hell has a military, call-to-arms quality to it. Be it Dave’s inspired, rallying vocals or Taylor’s snare-heavy drumming, it’s rousing material all the same. As the intro to the bulkier, if inferior, The Last Song, the hook of “See you in Hell” is a freeing one to be bellowing, I’m sure, and it’s, at the very least, a toe-tapping listen.
36. Exhausted (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Much like Floaty, Exhausted really does sonically encompass what its title is. With the blown-out, minor-key guitars, downbeat bass grooves and Dave’s light, resigned vocals, it’s for-sure one of the more Nirvana-esque moments on the debut. Even with its peppier passages peppered in piece-by-piece, the white noise in the negative space is effective like a rainy day.
35. Monkey Wrench (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
A bona-fide fan favourite that I’m sure many people will be Up in Arms (eh??) to see so low on the list, Monkey Wrench is a defining piece of 90s alt rock, as well as a signature song for the band. The blazing-hot guitar leads, rapid-fire drum and sticky hooks all make for memorable Foo fare, with Dave’s venomous, one-breath tirade in the bridge being the stuff of legend. Anyone who says they can do it too is lying, even me, who often claims such a thing.
34. Wattershed (Foo Fighters, 1995)
We now get to the track that, alongside the delinquent Weenie Beenie, stands as the closest to hardcore the band ever strayed — and it’s pretty fucking close. Not to let the defined riffs and multiple parts fool you, this track has more in common with Bad Brains and Motörhead than any of their modern day stadium rock peers.
33. Walk (Wasting Light, 2011)
While I’m plenty aware that this is Foo Fighters at the “reach for the stars”, arena-bothering ‘worst’, I’m absolutely not going to be the weiner-beiner that decries it as ‘lame’ (even though it is) and turn my nose up (even though I love doing that). At the end of the day, Walk, with its clichés and uncoolness, is an inspiring song with great, catchy, well-produced instrumental and energetic performances. Absolutely pull your head out of your hole if you think otherwise.
32. This Is A Call (Foo Fighters, 1995)
And so we come to their flagship single, the one launched Foo Fighters (with a considerable Kurt-Cobain-shaped launchpad, not to mention) into alternative darlinghood. Saying that, it would be remiss to chock down the success of This Is A Call to post-Nirvana-adoration disorder, as the danceable alt rock vibes of the track are infectious from the offset. Furthermore, Dave’s progressing, introspective (if sometimes nonsensical) lyrics mark the perfect changing point in the man’s life.
31. DOA (In Your Honor, 2005)
Vastly underrated in the realm of Foo singles, DOA is a tried-and-true alternative rock banger, with a great, almost-indie-like, guitar lead. Taylor’s dynamic drumming, ranging from pounding toms in the verse and excessive hi-hat fiddlery in the chorus, is great bit of sonic levity, showcasing the level of stylistic range the sticksman can boast.
30. Statues (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
A sleepy ballad among the pack of Echoes, there was a time where I would consider naming Statues my favourite album cut from the band. While those days are behind us, the piano-led track feels like a geniune tribute to soft rock icons like Eagles or Billy Joel. Now, while I’m not hear to sing the praises of either of those weak-ass acts (not to say I don’t bop Hotel California on the DL), Foo Fighters take that format and, with it, craft a poignant rumination on ordinary people’s place in time — a thematic well that Dave can take from endlessly, and still produce classics.
29. In Your Honor (In Your Honor, 2005)
As earlier mentioned, In Your Honor, the title track from 2005’s wildly inconsistent if somewhat underrated LP of the same name, is a rallying piece of gargantuan arena rock, delivered with all the overwhelming gusto that you could imagine from that description. Dave’s vocals are at an 11 for the whole thing, while the marching band drums and lightning guitars where just made to be played from the highest mountain or rooftop you could find. It’s just a massive moment, topped off by one of the frontman’s most vibrant howls to date.
28. I’ll Stick Around (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Although the amount of articles, comments and general evidence that touts Dave Grohl as “the nicest man in rock music”, it’s not impossible to find proof towards the contrary. His cold-blooded erasure of original drummer William Goldsmith aside, 1995’s I’ll Stick Around, supposedly (and transparently, no matter what he says) written about Courtney Love, has a through-taking-shit attitude in its lyrics that is only matched by the riff-ready, mosh-mandatory instrumental.
27. These Days (Wasting Light, 2011)
Another huge fan favourite, as well as another that is instantly improved upon when you’re part of a 80,000 strong backing choir to it, These Days, one of the more blatantly quietLOUD tracks in their discography, has a cathartic sing-a-long chorus that, despite it not being my absolute favourite song, will absolutely give me those chills that only this band can.
26. Generator (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
Coming in at the eve of the millenium, Generator, more than any other song on There Is Nothing Left To Lose, feels like a product of its time. Whether its the watery guitar tone, alt rock chord progressions or the surprisingly effective use of talk box throughout, there’s a nostalgia (or, in my case, anemoia) to it that’s both comforting and boppable.
25. Erase/Replace (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Of course, we’ve got some more balls-to-the-wall tom-Foo-lery in Erase/Replace, a song that makes no bones about being an enthusiastically colourful arena rock cut. Everything about this track is jumbo-sized, with slow, pronounced drum fills, an almost laughably exuberant lead vocal and a guitar lead that could bring down an airship. Even the supposedly “quiet” bridge on this thing has been mixed within an inch of its life to stand 10,000ft tall.
24. Arrows (Concrete & Gold, 2017)
My personal favourite from Concrete & Gold, Arrows stands alone as one of the best Foo Fighters songs of the past decade. While retaining all of the high-stakes power that the band has injected into much of their modern day output, the song feels both modern in its cleaner production and classic in that it contains one of Grohl’s best choruses since One By One.
23. White Limo (Wasting Light, 2011)
Another track that would’ve been higher up on this list in a past life, White Limo, in an era where Foos were *explicitly* not doing the heavy stuff anymore, is the heaviest song in their catalogue. With guitars that are more overdriven than a nine-year-old Nike manufacturer and drums packing a Saitama-level punch, the song goes like a rusted hot rod with a rocket engine, and ends in a similarly explosive conclusion.
22. My Poor Brain (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
Almost universally seen as their strongest album, The Colour And The Shape absolutely packs some of the Foos’ strongest deep cuts. One of the strongest is the unapologetically noisy My Poor Brain, a track that opens on pure racket, calms down for a brief minute and then is all go from that point on. Furthermore, somewhat in keeping with the song’s title, Grohl’s lyrics here are dishevelled, surreal but ultimately quotable — “Sometimes I feel I’m getting stuck/Between the handshake and the fuck” anyone?
21. My Hero (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
Once again we have a legitmate anthem on our hands — it’s almost like they’ve got fuckin’ aplenty. Of course, you know My Hero; you know that iconic drum pattern, the chant-a-long chorus, the amazingly celebratory lyrics. Dave’s ode to the everyman remains a working class tribute and, while Grohl has had far from a working class existence for the majority of his life, it’s somewhat touching to see one of the biggest rock bands in the world tout it as a signature song. A nice guy!
20. The Pretender (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Yeah, it’s pretty safe to assume at this point that from this point forward, it’s all untouchable bangers — the big bois. Being my introduction to the band, this is everything a six-year-old needs in a rock band — big guitar bits, catchy chorus, cool fucking dudes. A sheer stroke of genius from the entire band really, it’s the peak of when Foo Fighters really did become one of the biggest bands on the planet.
19. Halo (One By One, 2002)
Often dismissed by fans, critics and even the band themselves as their worst album, it’s songs like this that really show why One By One is most definitely worth your time. Despite his personal demons at the time, Taylor’s drumming is still remarkably unique, crafting a whole new rhythm to the guitars and bass. Melodically blissful, the chorus and, particularly, the powerful bridge are like seratonin rivers to my ears — it’s golden songwriting.
18. Resolve (In Your Honor, 2005)
Admittedly, I am known to chuckle when I hear the plodding “duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh” that opens this otherwise classeeek Foos track; it’s heavy-handed to say the least. It should say something, then, that, despite that, it remains in the top 20 songs they ever done did! Of course, this is down to the diamond songwriting throughout this one, with an infectious, feelgood chorus and a gentle, accessible rhythm.
17. Good Grief (Foo Fighters, 1995)
With mile-a-minute drums and ripping, power-pop guitars, something about Good Grief makes me wanna boot up a Playstation and get on some vintage Pro Skater vibes. It shows that, even on their debut, the band have always been about straightforward, fun rock music, not worrying about subversion or acting out, but also not compromising on noisiness or being too pop — it just is what it wants to be, and Good Grief really encapsulates that to me.
16. Enough Space (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
One of my favourite heavy Foos cuts, Enough Space just bleeds volume from the very get-go, of course taking a break for that quiet verse (this is Foo Fighters we’re talking about), which has slinky lil bassline, as groovy as it is kind of menacing. However, it’s that nuclear chorus and bridge that just screams (quite literally) furious unfuckwitabilty; it’s riling and savage.
15. Stranger Things Have Happened (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Taking it down a decided notch, Stranger Things Have Happened, quite possibily the most lowkey Foo Fighters track (at least outside of In Your Honor‘s godawful second disc), is remarkably solid acoustic cut. Packing an instantly engrained main riff, there’s an organic feel to it that oozes homemade charm. At the same time, though, it’s pristinely produced and mixed, something that, on such a barebones track, works lengths and wonders in its favour.
14. Rope (Wasting Light, 2011)
In my mind, the last true “classic” that the band put out, Rope, from the first chord, has that magic that makes Foo Fighters songs so transcendently great. That said, it also remains one of their oddest songs, with weird, syncopated-sounding guitar leads in the verses that give way to catchy and poppy chorus. In paying tribute to bands like Rush, the band added a touch of prog to the song, making it a beautiful oddity in the process.
13. Home (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
The closing track of Echoes, Home is heart-wrenching solo piano ballad with Dave at the forefront. The lyrics, dealing with the very human longing to be home, are specific enough to feel directed at you personally, while also vague enough that anyone can feel that, in a way that I think only a handful of people on the planet are able to relate. Instrumentally, the piano playing, while relatively rudimentary, is emotive and swelling, especially as the strings and other backing come in for the finale.
12. Best Of You (In Your Honor, 2005)
There’s not much to say about Best of You that either hasn’t been said before, or that you can get from just listening to it. Easily one of the most upper echelon rock songs of the 21st century, it’s a relatable song, with a powerful instrumental and a guttural vocal performance. Hate it for its repetition? Valid, sure, but there’s a spark in it that touches millions of people, and that has to count for something.
11. But Honestly (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
A seemingly inconspicuous deep cut, everything comes together with But Honestly, for me. Structurally similar to countless songs on Echoes, the merits of this song lies solely in the melodies – I swear, he’s just the best at them. In the bridge of this song, the building chords, ramped up by the anticipatory drums, are enough to get you hair-raisingly hyped for the eruptive closer of the song, with harmonic solos a-plenty. Widdily-diddily.
10. Low (One By One, 2002)
Offensively underrated, Low is far-and-away Foo Fighters’ nastiest song, in all the right ways. Grottily reflected in the video (one of their best), the suffocating, distorted guitars and bass, especially when coupled with the frantic drumming, is effortlessly ominous. This is doubled when taking into account Dave’s uncharacteristically subdued vocals. If there was ever a song to make a case for Foo Fighters being filthy bastids, this would be the one.
9. Alone + Easy Target (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Ever since I first heard it, Alone + Easy Target has been my favourite song off the debut by some distance. It personifies the record perfectly; the grimy post-grunge guitars still reverberating from Nevermind, but with an uplifting aura that defies Grohl’s past. It’s straight-forward, yes, but in its simplicity, the band (or basically just Dave) has enough room to really let the song breathe.
8. Lonely As You (One By One, 2002)
Here we, are, on the brink of the proper GOD-like tracks, and what better wattershed to this than my favourite album cut the band ever put out. Befuddingly not a single, Lonely As You boasts, while maybe not their catchiest song, some of Dave’s strongest ever songwriting. The chugging verses, the descending choruses, everything is on the downturn. The song ends on one of my favourite yelled vocals from Dave Grohl or otherwise. It’s a slow burner, in terms of Foos songs anyway, but it’s rarely topped.
7. Breakout (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
Now we’re here, the best of the best. Movie tie-ins often bring out the best in artists; I mean Aerosmith and Smash Mouth *chef’s kiss*, c’mon. However, with Breakout being tied into Me, Myself & Irene literally has no significance whatsoever (why mention it then (shut up)). Coming off an album widely seen as their softest, Breakout is in there, 2 songs in, to chew up the furniture and leave threatening lipstick messages on all the walls — it’s a rabid dog of a song, with a great hook and, as ever, a killer Grohl performance.
6. Long Road To Ruin (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Up until very recently, this ode to melodrama was my favourite Foo Fighters song — period. While that may not be the case anymore, this underrated classic (with an also underrated video) is the band at their soft rock best. Not to say that they don’t still make some noise, but there’s a vintage ear for tune on this one that’d be just as at home on some kind of easy listening album from the 70s. Sure, the rocket-powered solo and thrashing drums might be a little out of place.
5. Learn To Fly (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
You don’t get more fan favourite than Learn To Fly. Not a heavy metal track by any means, this mid-paced rocker, with its giant guitar sound and lyrical “flying” motifs, was made for alt rock radio. With a silly but often-gigglesome video to boot, there’s an inoffensiveness to Learn To Fly that’s actually quite nice; there’s no posturing, no edge, just a catchy pop song about flying that happens to be really fucking great.
4. Times Like These (One By One, 2002)
A song so universally adored that people have been horrifically covering it in lockdown (I say that, I haven’t actually seen any of them, I social distanced the fuck away from that), Times Like These house possibly Grohl’s most adored sets of lyrics, ones that are admittedly quite poignant in this lockdowny bullshit era of bastards (as it’ll be known). The staggered drums and new wave-ish lead solo embellish what is a pure peach of tune, it’s the band at their relatable best.
3. No Way Back (In Your Honor, 2005)
Surprisingly few people talk about No Way Back, a prominant single for In Your Honor, when mentioning the untouchably fantastic Foo Fighters tracks. This is a pity, as you can see, because it’s an indescribably feelgood romp. The breakneck instrumental, which eases up precisely nil throughout the runtime, is adrenaline pumping and smile-inducing. As the song gets to the chorus, though, it’s that warm, comforting chord progression that just gives me chills whenever I listen to it. For an extra lil treat, hunt out the live cut that they did for Wembley ’08 — ’tis gorgeous.
2. Everlong (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
In a move that shocks literally no-one, Everlong makes to the top three. Joking aside, there’s a reason that this remains Foo Fighters’ signature showstopper. I mean where to start, the drumming is fiery and energetic, while the guitars are played so dynamically throughout and Dave’s vocals perfectly capture the idyllic beauty of the song. Even forgetting the incredible music video, immortalised lyrics and unfathomable kinetic energy in the track, the tune at the heart of it is simply stunning. It’s this concept — crafting a melody that pierces into the heart of the listener — that has kept Dave Grohl in the business of making beloved rock music for 25 years now.
1. All My Life (One By One, 2002)
However, when all is said and done, there’s not a Foo Fighters song, nary many a song that’s ever been written, that’ll have me flipping my total shit like this one. A gutter-bound rager of a track from beginning to end, this is what hard rock should look like. Crashing cymbals, crunchy guitars, a rock-solid bassline and Dave Grohl being the most charismatic motherfucker to ever make a hit about going down on the ladies (because of course that’s his favourite — nicest guy in rock). While there is a cuddliness to Foo Fighters that makes them so approachable nowadays, and I have a huge amount of emotional attachment to pretty much every song on this list, it’s crucial to remember that these guys are a rock band — and they have rocked as hard as anyone you’ve ever heard: this is the proof.
There we have it, the Top 50 Foo Fighters songs that ever done did be, compiled by someone who loves them with an intenseness only matched by their love of Thatchers Gold and chatting shit. Over the few times I’ve made this list over the years, it’s always been ever-shifting and the hardest to compile. So, if you have any Foo tracks I’ve missed, or any thoughts in general, keep them to yourself, yeah? This took me fucking ages.