If it wasn’t enough that QOTSA came out with Villains, the goddamn Foo Fighters are also out with their new record, Concrete And Gold, today! With a career spanning over 20 years, Grohl’s bunch of merry rockers have spented those years producing some of the best alt rock music in the genre and have become both one of mine and millions of the people’s favourite bands. They manage to have a tremendous amount of worldwide pop appeal but still somehow retain a hard rock edge to every album they put out. And don’t even get me started on frontman Dave Grohl, who is probably my favourite person on the planet that I’ve never met, and continues to inspire me, especially as a drummer.
To celebrate the release of LP no. 9, I’ve taken it upon myself (cus no one else is interested) to top 25 the best of the best in the Foo-niverse, in my opinion. Keep that in mind, my opinion, because I am expecting to rile up a good few of ya here. Also keep in mind that out of the three top 25’s I’ve had to do, this had definitely been the hardest to compile.
Anyway, here’s a celebration of all things Foo.
25. Big Me (Foo Fighters, 1995)
In a way, it’s fitting to open this badboi up with one the early singles. The eponymous first LP by Foo Fighters, then just one-man project, is the ultimate in post-grunge but you wouldn’t expect a song like this on there. Coated in a sugary, power pop guitar riff, Big Me’s repetitive nature is a very remeniscent of a commerical jingle, which the band decided to pastiche with the video. Despite this, the song is a major earworm and has a welcome feel-good factor amidst the fuzzy, punk-influenced songs on the rest of the album.
24. Monkey Wrench (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
NOW THIS IS A BIT MORE LIKE IT!!!!!! Two years after the debut was released, Grohl was back, this time with an actual band, and released sophomore effort The Colour And The Shape, which is widely revered as the band’s best. While I wouldn’t stretch that far, the volume of fan favourites does speak for itself. Kicking the door in at first beat, Monkey Wrench is an angry song, reflective of Grohl’s roots in hardcore punk, with a non-stop riff and a vocal delivery with copious amounts of attitude. Perhaps, however, the song is notable for it’s bridge, which sees Grohl spit out his venom-laden lyrics in one go, leading to one breath lasting 30 seconds of continuous shouting/screaming. Not impressive? Try and sing along then.
23. Best Of You (In Your Honor, 2005)
Grohl’s phat pipes come in handy once more on this fan favourite. Probably the most arena rock tune in the Foo’s discography, Best of You’s lyrical motifs lie in having the strength to break away, carry on and, you guessed it, not letting someone get the best of you. While I’ve always thought it had an element of cheesiness, it’s always had a special place as a song from my childhood. However, as I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate the absolutely monster drum work from Taylor, putting the “fill” in “HOLY SH*T MAN LOOK AT ALL THOSE DAMN FILLS”. Now, everyone! THEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBESTTHEBEST
22. Rope (Wasting Light, 2011)
Lead single from 2011 beast of an album Wasting Light, in my opinion the last great Foos album released (I’m writing this in June, so no Concrete & Gold yet), Rope rocks, hard. With a great stop-starty riff, this song has all the finesse you get from a 20+ year career but retains the youthful spirit of earlier works. However, like Best Of You, the star of the show, for me, once again is Taylor Hawkins. The fills in this song go up there as some of his best, as well as some killer solos. And even when he’s not the song’s focal point, he drums up an offbeat something fierce, while also providing some killer backing vocals, giving the song, weirdly, a kinda-Beach Boys-esque vibe in the vocal department.
21. Stranger Things Have Happened (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Let’s slow things down a minute, eh? The Foos’ 2007 masterpiece Echoes, Patience, Silence & Grace (my favourite album of theirs) presents an awesome level of variety, and not in the lazy and annoying way In Your Honor did. One of the few acoustic tracks on the listing, Stranger Things Have Happened serves as the best unplugged song in their discography. A gentle listen, while there is no empassioned screaming, there is still bucketloads of emotion behind Grohl’s performance here. If you know me, you’ll know I’m more for the “plug it in, turn it up” ideology, but this song showed me the wonders of a softer approach.
20. My Poor Brain (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
The first of many non-singles on this list, while My Poor Brain may have thinking exactly that with it’s mind-f*cking intro, the song quickly shapes up into one of the best on their widely acclaimed sophomore effort. Taking the Pixies concept of “quietLOUDquietLOUDquietLOUD”, My Poor Brain has one of the most aggressive screaming from the frontman, as well as punchy, punky riff and crashing cymbals. Not often do you get to see Foo Fighters truly rage, but this is one of those songs.
19. Low (One By One, 2002)
Maybe the most underrated single in their history, Low is a demented song characterised by the grimey guitar tones and schizophrenic drum patterns in the instrumental. The tone of the track is akin to that of a modern horror masterpiece, with Grohl’s eerily quiet vocals, coupled of course with such a dirty riff. At points we are treated to effects-riddled guitar parts, elevating the sense of unpredictability about the song. It’s disturbing, but you won’t stop listening. Also, it’s probably their best music video as well.
18. Walk (Wasting Light, 2011)
Another arena rock behemoth, Walk is the epitome of the genre, for me. Opening on a bare riff with Grohl’s empassioned vocals, the song quickly develops into a huge anthemic beast, with multiple layered guitar parts and a trogladytic pounding of the drums. Lyrically, it’s nothing special in the Foos later catalogue, but it’s hard not to be moved as Grohl screams “I never wanna die!” at the apex of the song. There is a definite sense of grandeur to the song, making it the perfect closer to Wasting Light.
17. Statues (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Structurely similar to Walk in places, Statues is another big ol’ song with many sonic components, such as the opening piano, that pervades through the song, as well as the accordion (contributed by now-member Rami Jaffee), fiddle and strings, making it one of the more varied songs in the Foos’ discography. The slow tempo and chilled atmosphere of the song, not to mention the great guitar and drum parts, are why I think this is a particular highlight on Echoes.
16. Generator (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
A divisive song from There Is Nothing Left To Lose, there some out there who wouldn’t rate this as highly as I would, including me from about three/four months ago. The song is particularly notable for Dave’s use of the talk box, which is what initially turned me off, even though watching someone use one of those things never fails to crack me up a bit. However, once you get past that, you get one of the best, if a little dated, alt rock tunes of its era. The chorus is one of my favourites from the band and I love the drifty guitar of the verses.
15. Overdrive (One By One, 2002)
It’s songs like this that make One By One oh-so-close to being my favourite Foos record, with the non-singles being some of the best put out by the band. While nothing special in particular, Overdrive sports an overall fun atmosphere, with some great supporting bass work from Nate, plus Taylor’s top quality snare work. It’s a song that will undeniably put a smile on your face whether you like it or not.
14. I’ll Stick Around (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Maybe the angriest song in the Foos’ catalogue, I’ll Stick Around oozes the grunge roots of Grohl’s music, with raw guitars and cymbal-heavy drumming. His vocal delivery and lyrics in particular are very aggressive, with many theorizing that they are aimed at Courtney Love, now that’s something to think about. Aside from this, the song is full of energy and remains a song to get pumped up to.
13. Lonely As You (One By One, 2002)
Another song I only recently got into to the extent that I do, Lonely As You has one of the best build-ups in the band’s history, with the verses having these killer guitar/bass parts and is up there with one of my favourite chord progressions, period. There is a sense of building throughout these verses which is paid off with the chorus and, later, the song’s closing moments, where Grohl screams the hook with one of his best vocal performances to date.
12. Resolve (In Your Honor, 2005)
Here’s one you can debate me on. Resolve may not be the Foos’ highest ranked song among many, but it’s a favourite of mine nonetheless. The main drawing point of the song is the big blow-out chorus, with Grohl yelling out the hook with a phat riff and cymbal-heavy drums behind him. I really dig the atmosphere of this track and I definitely see this as a highlight of In Your Honor. It’s not particularly frantic or too soft, it really hits the sweet spot right in between.
11. The Pretender (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
OOOOH, and this one, you can argue me here as well. Perhaps putting one of their biggest hits outside the top ten was a bold choice, but one I’ll stick with. The Pretender kicks ass, that’s the most you need to know about it. A definition of hard rock, the guitar and drum parts scream heavy, almost as much as Grohl screams heavily. This is probably of the first favourite songs of mine that I can remember, with 6/7 year old me enjoying the hell out of the energy of this track.
10. Alone + Easy Target (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Let’s slow things down a bit with my favourite non-single from the band, ever. Coming as the fourth track on their eponymous debut, following the three singles This Is A Call, I’ll Stick Around, Big Me, you’d think following such songs would make this track seem worse by comparison. You’d be very much incorrect. The perfect 90s alt-rock riff from Grohl, as well as the stellar kick-drum beat, give the verses a certain shoegazing quality to them, which is instantly dissolved with the introduction of the heavier chorus. Alone + Easy Target is also notable in my book for having possibly one of, if not, my favourite drum part from the band, coming at the climax of the bridge. Moreover, the songwriting on display makes it one of the many songs on the album that would also easily be home on a Nirvana record.
9. White Limo (Wasting Light, 2011)
With Wasting Light, Foo Fighters were attempting to re-capture their garage rock and grunge roots, with producer Butch Vig (of Nevermind fame) and literally recording it in Grohl’s garage. Unfortunately, however, while making an absolutely brilliant album, I’d say they failed in that mission, with many of the songs retaining their arena rock and pop-level accessability. That is, of course, apart from one song; White Limo. The closest thing to a metal song the band have done since Weenie Beenie or Wattershed, the harsh guitar tones and rapid fire drumming come close to injecting adrenaline through your headphones, while the distorted vocals on this song are the definition of what screaming was made for. This song, more than any other in the band’s collection, will kick your ass.
8. This Is A Call (Foo Fighters, 1995)
And now we find ourselves from the latest Foos song on the list to first one they ever released. With absurdist lyrics pervading through the verses (fingernails?), the main motifs is Grohl giving a shout-out to everyone who has helped in his music, which is kind of a nice way to kick off his solo record, eh? Aside from this, I adore the tones and atmosphere of this track, being, most likely, exactly what they wanted to achieve on Wasting Light. The youthful energy and sense of a joint effort is astounding seeing that the entire song (and album) was recorded by one flippin’ dude, which is definitely of note. All I can say is, what a hell to kick off another career.
7. Everlong (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
Okay, I’m fully prepared for the pitchforks. C’mon guys, have at me! What is undoubtedly heralded as the ultimate Foos song, Everlong has characterised the band for 20 years now. The lyrics, written after Grohl’s divorce and finding new love, have a sense of optimism and overall smittenness about them, making the song’s chorus and hook an anthem for all the alt-scene couples since. Instrumentally, Taylor’s hi-hat abundant drumming and wicked fills couple together with the inspired guitar work to make something truly special. It may not be my favourite Foo Fighters song, but even I can’t deny it’s their biggest.
6. Times Like These (One By One, 2002)
I AM A ONE WAY MOTORWAY! Probably one of my favourite, most attention-grabbing opening lines in music history. Notable for its brilliant guitar parts, including a very, very good riff from Chris, Times Like These also boasts a greatly varied performance from Taylor and, once again, an unbeatable set of vocals. It’s one of those songs that, at first thought, might not come directly to your mind, but, when you do remember it, you are reminded of why it’s one of the Foos greatest hits. Also, Florence can f*ck off with her hippie-ass cover of it.
5. No Way Back (In Your Honor, 2005)
Maybe my favourite chorus from the Foos, I first realised this was an astoundingly amazing song when I watched their set from Wembley Stadium in 2007. Watching the passion in Grohl’s face and voice, especially when that chorus came around, made this song instantly one of my favourites from the band. Not since I first heard Rage Against The Machine’s first album have I so instantly fell in love with a piece of music as this. Aside from that, Taylor’s kickdrums and the Chris’ guitar solo are also notably dope-ass areas of the song.
4. Breakout (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1997)
You want attitude? YOU WANT ATTITUDE? Here, have some attitude. Recorded for There Is Nothing Left To Lose and used in the underratedly good Jim Carrey flick Me, Myself & Irene, Breakout shows each member on peak form as far as I can tell. In the intro, we are treated to these effect-heavy winding guitar parts, remeniscent of some kinda… I don’t even know… It’s indescribable. Anyway, as the song gets more into it, we are treated to some tom-heavy drumming, which changes into something else every time the song does, and another frayed vocal performance, reeking of attitude and aggression. As everything kicks off, the bass is also notable for getting into some mad sh*t, Geezer-style boi.
O BOI O BOI, IT’S TOP THREE.
3. All My Life (One By One, 2002)
Diablo Road Runner t-shirts at the ready, lads, it might get messy. The dirty opening riff, accompanied by an ominous vocal, is just a signal of what All My Life is capable — that being rocking your f*cking socks off. Reportedly, after released singles such as Learn To Fly and Next Year, Grohl fancied himself at releasing a heavier single, and that he did. The song definitely a “jump up and kick stuff” factor to it, with Grohl screaming “DONE DONE ON TO THE NEXT ONE” having some kind of Exorcist-like ability to completely possess me at times, which is lovely. It’s just so good man, it is just a complete beast.
2. Learn To Fly (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1997)
But it doesn’t always have to be kick-ass heavy, as our no. 2 pick proves! Equipped with one of the best music videos of all time, Learn To Fly is probably the most hopeful, happy song in the Foos’ catalogue, bringing a smile to the face of everyone listening to it. The deceptive offbeat in the verses make it a devil to replicate on drums, so well done to Taylor for making my life so much harder, while the guitar riff is just so catchy, it’s no wonder it can get stadiums of people to their feet like no one’s business. It also sports the best bridge in their catalogue, for me. I’d say if you were looking to get a good idea of what the Foos are about, there is no better song to give you that idea.
Here are some of the quality Foos cuts that didn’t quite make the list:
Something From Nothing (Sonic Highways, 2014)
Erase Replace (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
In Your Honor (In Your Honor, 2005)
Arlandria (Wasting Light, 2011)
These Days (Wasting Light, 2011)
Summer’s End (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Stacked Actors (There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
My Hero (The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
Good Grief (Foo Fighters, 1995)
D.O.A. (In Your Honor, 2005)
End Over End (In Your Honor, 2005)
The Deepest Blues Are Black (In Your Honor, 2005)
Weenie Beenie (Foo Fighters, 1995)
I’m sure OG Stuff And That fans’ll know what’s coming up. Wait, what do you mean they don’t exist?
1. Long Road To Ruin (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
What the hell is this doing here. I know. We’ve gone through all the hits, even My Hero was an honourable mention? What?! What’s this little known single doing at no. 1??? I’ll tell ya.
It’s my favourite. Or was that not clear?
I can understand that, in the eyes of many, Long Road To Ruin may not be the perfect song, or even the best Foos song. That said, I think I can explain the appeal to this one for me. It’s the ultimate arena-rock song, with a big singalong chorus and catchy-as-all-hell riff. While we don’t get any screaming, Grohl’s performance is full of passion and the lyrics, while not particularly edgy, are just so much fun. Chris’ solo proves to be, in my opinion, his finest with the band, as well as the main riff having a great chord progression, and other parts having a sparkly feel to them. The bass supports all this brilliantly, as per, giving the song a solid backbone. Finally, Taylor’s spectacular drumming does not fail the band, providing some of his best fills, including a favourite of mine also featured on the Grohl-drummed I Sat By The Ocean by Queens Of The Stone Age. Anyway, it may not be the fan favourite of Everlong, but, since I first heard this album 10 years ago, my infatuation with the song has only increased.
So, I’m sure that wasn’t the most agreeable list. I’d love to know what your guys’ fave Foos songs are, so drop a comment if ya fancy. Or don’t and break my heart.
Buy Concrete & Gold: DINGUS.
Lots of hugs, kisses and laceratons