Before I begin, I’m sure there will be a large number of people out there reaching unprecedented levels of boredom-fuelled fury at the audacity of including the songs below in an article with the title above. Aside from the fact that on my best day I must make a special effort to actually care what others think (sad internet trolls with misplaced anger and self-worth issues have no chance), this is a small piece written with the intention of simply consolidating many of the particularly enjoyable songs that have features in my life over the past decade or so.
You’ll notice that many of them barely fit into the rock category, but all have some elements of the genre. Rock doesn’t really mean what it used to, and genres are being bounded around so aimlessly these days that they have lost the meaning and weight they used to carry. These are my favourite songs possess elements of rock, alternative, and even post-hardcore influences. Deal with it.
New Slang, The Shins (Oh Inverted World)
While I wouldn’t describe this track as rock by any means, it is most certainly alternative in style and comes from one of the greatest (and underappreciated) bands to every grace the music industry. New Slang is really about getting out of your current situation, such as your relationships, town, job, etc., and lyrics evoke a sense of longing for something better, of outgrowing surroundings, and of growing more aware of things that you once wouldn’t have noticed in your youth. With a hugely catchy “wooo”-based vocal melody and unbelievably simple chords, New Slang will stay with me forever, particularly after seeing The Shins perform it live in London.
Don’t Panic – Coldplay (Parachutes)
Back before the monstrosity of Paradise in a time where there was none of this “So and so featuring another so and so” ridiculousness, there was Coldplay with their musical brilliance and songs that tugged at your heart strings. Don’t Panic is the perfect opener to their debut album Parachutes, which is a collection of songs that I am sure invokes nostalgia for many, but the song is much more than just an opener on a great album. To this day, this is Coldplay’s greatest track, with clean guitars strumming underneath picked layers of notes that blend incredibly well and lyrics that juxtapose melancholic despair with reverence of the world’s beauty. Just listen and you’ll see what I mean.
Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead (the Bends)
Strumming, singing, and some simple drums: doesn’t sound like one of a band’s greatest hits, does it. Fake Plastic Trees is a favourite for many fans of Radiohead and is recognised as one of the greatest of their songs and by some as one of the best of all time. It’s a little depressing for some people’s tastes, but it sure has beauty and brilliance all in one.
I’ll Find You – Hundred Reasons (Ideas Above our Station)
Having never truly broken out in them music industry in any massive way, Hundred Reasons aren’t really at the top of everyone’s lists, but I’ll Find You is an absolute belter of a song with a memorable and driving riff some distinctive-sounding vocals that comprised the band’s sound. This is a “fist in the air” kind of song and it sits proudly in this list.
After the Rush Hour – Million Dead (Harmony No Harmony)
Before Frank Turner was known as Frank Turner to the commercial side of the music industry, he was merely the frontman for perhaps one of the best post-hardcore/alternative bands of all time. Million Dead didn’t make it to the big time either, but I had a hard time choosing their best song to put in here. I am the Party almost made it, but After the Rush Hour represents a perfect mixture of the band’s sound both old and new. This track is largely melodic but breaks down into discordant sounds and heavier breakdowns that were typical of Million Dead’s older stuff. The guitar melody for this song is unreasonably beautiful and complex in tone however, and the political lyrics don’t beat around the bush.
Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups (Carnavas)
Is this the Pumpkins or the Pickups? This band possesses certain characteristics of the Smashing Pumpkins’ sound, but they most definitely are their own entity. Lazy Eye is yet another simple melody that is based around three or four chords, with layered guitars and a distinctive vocal sound building up to a crescendo and a tune that you may be humming for days afterwards.
Everlong - Foo Fighters (The Colour and the Shape)
This song has had many versions with acoustic takes being lovely to listen to but the original is still the best. Everything about this encapsulates old-school Foo Fighters and it remains the favourite of many to this day.
Stereophonics – All Songs (Word Gets Around)
Just because I’m Welsh doesn’t meant that I’m biased towards welsh bands. In fact, I dislike most bands and musicians of Welsh origin, but the Stereophonics are simply too good to deny. I didn’t really bother with them after ‘You’ve Gotta Go There to Come Back’, but their first few albums were astounding. ‘Word Gets Around’ contains more song-writing talent, catchy hooks, and attitude than the whole top 40 has done for many years. It’s a shame they lost their way but a band as good as the Stereophonics can’t stay underground forever. Remember their performance at Cardiff Castle in 1998 is one of the highlights of my gig-attending career.