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grmagne

Top 6400 Rock Songs

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I’ve put together a list of the top 6400 rock songs from 1950-2012. These are based on the results of 37 other top rock lists that I got off the internet and then I added the scores for all the songs, which were based upon how often and how high each song ranked on various lists. So these aren’t my personal opinions, and I definitely don’t agree with everything on the list. But I have discovered lots of great songs in putting this together.

http://toprocksongs1950-2012.blogspot.ca/

Nirvana beat out Led Zeppelin for the top spot. I don’t agree with it, but that’s the way it goes…

Here’s the Zeppelin songs that made the list:

#2: Stairway to Heaven #8: Whole Lotta Love #27: Kashmir #44: Rock and Roll #59: Black Dog #119: Ramble On #201: Over the Hills and Far Away #231: Immigrant Song #296: Heartbreaker #298: Dazed and Confused #334: Fool in the Rain #369: D'yer Mak'er #425: All My Love #443: Misty Mountain Hop #534: Going to California #555: What Is and What Should Never Be #568: The Ocean #655: Communication Breakdown #710: When the Levee Breaks #760: Houses of the Holy #783: Good Times Bad Times #884: Trampled Under Foot #974: Thank You #1047: Nobody's Fault But Mine #1099: Since I've Been Loving You #1150: Hey Hey What Can I Do #1274: The Song Remains the Same #1311: How Many More Times #1341: Ten Years Gone #1484: Bring It On Home #1624: Dancing Days #1635: In The Evening #1716: Babe I'm Gonna Leave You #1795: The Lemon Song #1839: The Battle of Evermore #1877: The Rover #1962: Boogie With Stu #2145: No Quarter #2373: The Rain Song #2422: Achilles Last Stand #2435: Custard Pie #2526: Living Loving Maid #2656: Travelling Riverside Blues #3094: Tangerine #3524: Hot Dog #3857: Bron-Y-Aur Stomp #3986: Down by the Seaside #4215: Moby Dick #4219: Four Sticks #4299: That's the Way #4356: The Wanton Song #4752: Your Time Is Gonna Come #4803: For Your Life #5057: South Bound Suarez #5328: You Shook Me #5576: Carouselambra #5669: In My Time of Dying #5705: The Crunge #5796: Darlene #6125: Gallows Pole #6251: I Can't Quit You

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Was there any actual basis for determine how to rank these songs or just how much you like them?

I have to throw out at least one criticism: Smells Like Teen Spirit, a sloppy song about deodorant, is the greatest rock song of all-time?

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That is your first post??????

Almost like we're being spammed or something. :bait:

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Was there any actual basis for determine how to rank these songs or just how much you like them?

I have to throw out at least one criticism: Smells Like Teen Spirit, a sloppy song about deodorant, is the greatest rock song of all-time?

Each song gets a score based on where it ranked on 37 different Top Rock lists. Here’s four examples of the total score and rank:

#6271 They Say by Scars on Broadway with 103 points.

#1099 Since I’ve been Loving You, 831 points.

#2 Stairway to Heaven, 7813 points.

#1 The Deoderant Song,8816 points.

A song at the bottom of the list, like “They Say” only appeared once out of all the lists I looked at. It ranked 958th on a top 1000 list, and so it finished near the bottom of my list.

Since I’ve Been Loving You, which I think should be ranked much higher (love the guitars and vocals!), got onto 4 lists, generally ranking in the 200-400 range on each. Decent, but not enough to crack the top 1000.

Stairway made it onto 17 lists, including four 1st place, one 2nd, two 3rd, two 4th, etc. (Some of the lists focus on Heavy Metal, Soft Rock, Alternative, Classic, Oldies; that’s why an all-time great song might not appear on half the lists).

Teen Spirit made it onto 20 lists, including five 1st, two 2nd, one 3rd, one 4th, one 5th.

I was very surprised that Teen Spirit came 1st. I used more Classic Rock than Alternative Rock lists (because it reigned for longer) but Alternative Rock stations very often ranked Teen Spirit #1, probably as a tribute to the song that popularized the genre. Classic Rock stations usually ranked Stairway at or near the top but sometimes it ranks outside the top 10, and so lost some potential points.

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I would like to know the criteria for what is a "good song."

Much of what most people love about Zeppelin is their improvisation, hence why there is so much obsession about their live performances....their "songs" are popular, but the band would never be as popular as they are without the instrumental solos, Plant's scat improvisations, and the variety of improvisation in their live performances

The definition of "song," I believe, is words put to music. Therefore, a good "song" would include, I think: 1. An interesting and hopefully original melody, 2. Meaningful or clever lyrics, 3. good vocals and 4. good accompaniment. By those criteria, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" doesn't make it because although the melody is sort of interesting, the lyrics are vague and minimal, the singing is awful, and the accompaniment is just ok. "Stairway to Heaven" would be ahead because it has a beautiful melody and great vocals...in a way it cannot be called a song at all, however, because it is really a combination of musical performances in different sections, more like a symphony than a "song."

Glancing at your list, it seems to be a collection of popular contemporary tunes, many of which will be forgotten in 50 years if not sooner.

Most of the best songs ever written were by people like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. They aren't the same thing as Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin has more in common with Tchaikovsky than with the genre of popular song. My personal favorite song of the past 50 years is "Sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel because it has a beautiful melody, great lyrics, great singing by Garfunkel and a structure and rhythm that is a bit unusual. I realize it's maybe not a "rock" song. One of the best "rock songs" imo is "Paint it, Black" going by the criteria I listed above. I don't see it near the top of your list though.

Edited by ScarletMacaw

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In my humble opinion, songs that were released between 1980-2000 are over represented while songs from the 1950s are greatly under represented. Nirvana was a very good band with some very good songs but no way should "Smells Like Teen Spirit" be in the Number 1 spot on any list of great rock songs. Not one song from the 1950s is included in the list's top 100 songs. No Jerry Lee Lewis, no Fats Domino, no Elvis Presley or Everly Brothers. Chuck Barry's "Johnny B. Goode" comes in at #225 while Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" is ranked at #358. Not only were these great songs but they were also important songs in the history of rock. Their ranking and lack of other great rock-and-roll songs from the 50's makes me wonder how much the list's compilers know about rock music's history.

No songs by The Who in the top 20? Come on! The Who are one of the top 5 bands to come out of the UK and their highest ranked song, "My Generation", is ranked at #30? "Won't Get Fooled Again" is ranked at #38 and "Baba O'Riley" is ranked at #47. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" perhaps their most important album, doesn't have any songs in the top 50. "Money" is ranked at #52. "Us and Them" is ranked at #379.

I could go on but you get my drift.

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In my humble opinion, songs that were released between 1980-2000 are over represented while songs from the 1950s are greatly under represented. Nirvana was a very good band with some very good songs but no way should "Smells Like Teen Spirit" be in the Number 1 spot on any list of great rock songs. Not one song from the 1950s is included in the list's top 100 songs. No Jerry Lee Lewis, no Fats Domino, no Elvis Presley or Everly Brothers. Chuck Barry's "Johnny B. Goode" comes in at #225 while Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" is ranked at #358. Not only were these great songs but they were also important songs in the history of rock. Their ranking and lack of other great rock-and-roll songs from the 50's makes me wonder how much the list's compilers know about rock music's history.

No songs by The Who in the top 20? Come on! The Who are one of the top 5 bands to come out of the UK and their highest ranked song, "My Generation", is ranked at #30? "Won't Get Fooled Again" is ranked at #38 and "Baba O'Riley" is ranked at #47. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" perhaps their most important album, doesn't have any songs in the top 50. "Money" is ranked at #52. "Us and Them" is ranked at #379.

I could go on but you get my drift.

Each of the last two posts hit on some of the same points, especially that my list is too commercial and overlooks influential 1950s rock. I’ll modify my blog to note that it’s largely a commercial list. The Rolling Stones top 500 sounds more like what you’re looking for, since they ranked most of your songs very highly. Most of the lists that I collected came from radio stations, so they reflect songs that receive the most airplay rather than influential songs of the past.

I did lots of google searches to collect “Top 1000 rock”, “Top 500 rock”, “Top Classic Rock”, “Top Alternative Rock”, “Top Soft Rock”, “Top Hard Rock”, etc. so that the list would have some variety. But it was really difficult to find lists that included 1950s music. I ended up getting five that included at least some ‘50s. The problem is that the other 32 lists didn’t even consider oldies, so the pre-Beatles era had a hard time cracking this top 300.

Songs from 2007-2012 were also under-represented but I’m not sure if that’s because so few kids listen to rock music these days, or because it will take years before the music of Muse, Wolfmother, etc. are fully appreciated. I’d guess a little of both.

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I will say this and only this for the time being. How any U2 song can make the top ten list of your top 6400 rocks songs of all time is beyond me. You list "One" in the top ten (10 as a matter of fact). That right there seems to negate any and all the others past the 10th song (to me).

There are about 100 other Led Zeppelin songs that should rank way higher than any U2 song. Just my opinion.

Edited to add one more comment:

I feel the same way about rem making the top 20. Whoever comprised this list and if it was you who started this topic, I think that you need to really reassess what you consider to be some of the Greatest songs ever and not over 6000 songs.

Edited by kingzoso

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"Child in Time" by Deep Purple and "Rainy Day Woman" by Bob Dylan didn't make the top 650.

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Each song gets a score based on where it ranked on 37 different Top Rock lists. Here’s four examples of the total score and rank:

#6271 They Say by Scars on Broadway with 103 points.

#1099 Since I’ve been Loving You, 831 points.

#2 Stairway to Heaven, 7813 points.

#1 The Deoderant Song,8816 points.

A song at the bottom of the list, like “They Say” only appeared once out of all the lists I looked at. It ranked 958th on a top 1000 list, and so it finished near the bottom of my list.

Since I’ve Been Loving You, which I think should be ranked much higher (love the guitars and vocals!), got onto 4 lists, generally ranking in the 200-400 range on each. Decent, but not enough to crack the top 1000.

Stairway made it onto 17 lists, including four 1st place, one 2nd, two 3rd, two 4th, etc. (Some of the lists focus on Heavy Metal, Soft Rock, Alternative, Classic, Oldies; that’s why an all-time great song might not appear on half the lists).

Teen Spirit made it onto 20 lists, including five 1st, two 2nd, one 3rd, one 4th, one 5th.

I was very surprised that Teen Spirit came 1st. I used more Classic Rock than Alternative Rock lists (because it reigned for longer) but Alternative Rock stations very often ranked Teen Spirit #1, probably as a tribute to the song that popularized the genre. Classic Rock stations usually ranked Stairway at or near the top but sometimes it ranks outside the top 10, and so lost some potential points.

Very good then. We get a ton of posts like this based upon how much someone likes a song. Btw, the Nirvana song was accidentally about deodorant.

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Well, what do you expect when you rely on the internet as your database for your list? Of course it's going to be flawed.

It's like relying on wikipedia for information.

Btw, the Nirvana song was accidentally about deodorant.

What are you talking about? There was nothing accidental about it...Kurt got the idea for the song title from the Teen Spirit ads that were prevalent at the time.

Edited by Strider

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What are you talking about? There was nothing accidental about it...Kurt got the idea for the song title from the Teen Spirit ads that were prevalent at the time.

I'm no Nirvana fan, but, from my understanding, Kurt Cobain got the name of the song when a friend wrote "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on a wall. The friend was referencing the deodorant Kurt's girlfriend used, but Kurt thought it had a deeper meaning and so used it for a song title. Only later did he find out that Teen Spirit was a deodorant.

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I will say this and only this for the time being. How any U2 song can make the top ten list of your top 6400 rocks songs of all time is beyond me. You list "One" in the top ten (10 as a matter of fact). That right there seems to negate any and all the others past the 10th song (to me).

There are about 100 other Led Zeppelin songs that should rank way higher than any U2 song. Just my opinion.

Edited to add one more comment:

I feel the same way about rem making the top 20. Whoever comprised this list and if it was you who started this topic, I think that you need to really reassess what you consider to be some of the Greatest songs ever and not over 6000 songs.

Think of this list as a popularity contest. All the songs at the top have an enormous base of devotees, even if no individual person loves every single one of them. To each his own. I took lots of top rock song lists off the internet (mostly they were published by radio stations, but there were other types too), and this compilation is an aggregate of songs that other people like. I did this as an experiment, because AFAIK nobody has tried this before for an all-time rock list. It’s also much faster than listening to tens of thousands of songs and then forming my own opinions, because everyone has different tastes and nobody would agree with my opinions, anyway.

To address your point, groups like U2 and REM are high on the list because they appear so frequently on many top rock lists. A few times I excluded a list from my compilation because the songs were of such poor quality. But for the most part, I accepted most lists as worthy, compiled the full results and let the chips fall where they may...even if I didn’t agree with the ranking order of the final list.

After looking it over, I think there are about 2000 great rock songs that have been published since I found that I liked the top 2000 much better whereas the bottom 4400 is very hit-and-miss as to whether or not I like the song. I could have just published the top 2000, but it took very little extra effort to publish the next 4400 so I figured, why not just post them?

Specific songs asked about by another poster:

Rainy Day Women by Bob Dylan ranked #1199 and Child in Time was #1012. Like I mentioned above, most songs in the top 2000 are high quality, so these songs are in good company. Yes, they usually rank much higher on Classic Rock lists but, because the scope of this compilation was much larger and this list was longer, most songs rank lower than what people normally expect. As I mentioned in a previous post, I really like Since I’ve Been Loving You and that didn’t crack the top 1000 either, though it came close.

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With that many songs, how come these so-called classic rock stations play the same damned songs all the time? Payola?

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