Posted by: bluesyemre | October 3, 2020

The 66 Best #HardRock Songs of the 21st Century by #Loudwire

The end of grunge, the emergence of nu metal and pop punk and Y2K was upon us. It seems like yesterday the 21st Century started, but here we are with nearly two decades worth of amazing hard rock songs. In this list, we’ll run through 66 of the tracks that have left an indelible imprint on the century so far.

In many ways, the year 2000 marked a bit of a rebirth in the rock world, launching the careers of such acts as Linkin ParkA Perfect Circle3 Doors DownDisturbed and Papa Roach, and things only grew from there.

Bands such as EvanescenceFall Out BoyMy Chemical RomanceFive Finger Death PunchParamore and many others sprouted up in the years ahead, ensuring a healthy mix of rock music carrying the torch through the first 20 years.

You also had holdover acts such as Nine Inch NailsKornDeftonesCreed and Red Hot Chili Peppers continuing their amazing runs in the new century.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane as we revisit the 66 Best Hard Rock Songs of the 21st Century. And be sure to check out the 66 Best Metal Songs of the 21st Century here.

3 Doors Down, “Kryptonite” (2000)

3 Doors Down emerged from Escatawpa, Mississippi, ready to take the music world by storm in 2000, much like the superhero referenced in their breakout single, “Kryptonite.” It’s hard to imagine that singer Brad Arnold penned the track while sitting in a math class at age 15. The song was the first of four singles from The Better Life album and started the band on a successful career with plenty more hits to follow. —CC

A Perfect Circle, “Judith” (2000)

Maynard James Keenan began to find creative success with A Perfect Circle at the top of the century on top of his primary project at the time, Tool. “Judith,” the introductory single from the band, consists of brilliant instrumental work along with one of Keenan’s most passionate and powerful vocal performances. The song was named for and written about Keenan’s mother, who despite suffering a stroke and being permanently confined to a wheelchair, still kept her faith in Christianity. —GH

Deftones, “Change (In the House of Flies)” (2000)

Very few acts have the ability to mix hard rock and ambient beauty like Deftones. “Change (In the House of Flies)” is one of the 21st century’s greatest examples of how true creativity and ingenuity can triumph over formulaic, radio-friendly products. Released in 2000 on the band’s White Pony album, atmospheric vocalist Chino Moreno cites “Change” as the turning point when the band truly began to function as a group. The song would also give them a radio breakthrough, hitting No. 9 on the Mainstream Rock chart and No. 3 for Alternative Airplay. —GH

Godsmack, “Awake” (2000)

Godsmack were already emerging as one of hard rock’s brightest hopes when the 2000s began, and with their sophomore set Awake in 2000, it was clear that they were ready to take over. The title track from Awake hit hard with its pummeling drumbeat and the song was destined to become an anthem. In fact, it was so inspirational that the U.S. Navy would later incorporate it in their recruitment commercials. The band had mixed feelings about the usage, stating that while they were not proponents of war, they did support the men and women fighting for our country. —CC

Limp Bizkit, “Rollin'” (2000)

As the 21st century hit, Limp Bizkit were the reigning kings of nu metal. Seemingly made for the stage, “Rollin’” is a party starter with an undeniable groove and the instant earworm of the repetitive chorus, “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.” The song is probably humming through your head as you read this. The track hit No. 10 at Mainstream Rock and No. 4 for Alternative Airplay, while becoming one of their most recognizable tracks. —CC

Linkin Park, “In the End” (2000)

Linkin Park’s diamond-selling 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory is the best-selling debut album of the 21st century under any genre. One of the songs that ensured that success was “In The End,” the fourth single to be released from the album. The song hit No. 3 Mainstream Rock, No. 1 for Alternative Airplay, crossed over to hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been certified four times platinum, making it the biggest single of their career. —GH

Papa Roach, “Last Resort” (2000)

Cut my life into pieces / This is my last resort” are the infamous words that put Papa Roach on the map. The debut single off their Infest album connected with listeners dealing with their own inner struggles. This up-tempo, hard hitting anthem remains one that still gets fans moshing. The track hit No. 1 Alternative Airplay, No. 4 Mainstream Rock and started what’s been one of the more consistent and stellar careers of the 21st century. —LR

Creed, “My Sacrifice” (2001)

“My Sacrifice” by Creed came from their third studio record, Weathered.. The tune was also nominated for a Grammy and remained No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for nine weeks in a row. Arriving in 2001, “My Sacrifice” was a song that communicated to many fans in a time of uncertainty. It would also crossover to hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 —LR

Drowning Pool, “Bodies” (2001)

Nearly two decades after Drowning Pool broke into the mainstream with “Bodies,” the track remains one of the most recognizable songs of the 21st century. With the simple yet powerful progression and the repetitive chorus of “Let the bodies hit the floor,” the song has been misinterpreted and vilified by various mainstream media outlets. Sadly, singer Dave Williams passed away in 2002, but not before he became immortalized as the voice behind “Bodies.” —GH

Incubus, “Wish You Were Here” (2001)

Incubus were primed to become a major band in 2001. After flying under the radar for a few years, the band finally broke out with their 1999 album Make Yourself, which spawned the singles “Pardon Me,” “Drive” and “Stellar.” Fresh off that breakout success, the band was ready to take the next step and decamped to a beachside mansion where they set up shop and got influenced by the oceanside atmosphere on the Morning View album. “Wish You Were Here” captures that vibe at its best, providing a backdrop for Brandon Boyd’s poetic delivery. The track hit No. 4 Mainstream Rock and No. 2 for Alternative Airplay in 2001. —CC

Nickelback, “How You Remind Me” (2001)

It’s no shocker that Nickelback’s massive track “How You Remind Me” makes it onto this list, especially since it was named the No. 1 most played song of the first decade of the 21st century. According to the Nielsen Soundscan, “How You Remind Me,” off of the album Silver Side Up, was played 1.2 million times on U.S. airwaves from 2001 to the end of 2009. It’s one of the few songs on this list that not only hit No. 1 at Mainstream Rock radio and for Alternative Airplay, but also was a Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. —LR

P.O.D. “Youth of the Nation” (2001)

“Youth of the Nation” was a mega tune off of P.O.D’s fourth studio album Satellite. The song’s inspiration stems from a school shooting. While the band was in traffic on their way to record their album, they learned that the holdup was due to a school shooting at Santana High School. “Youth of a Nation’ remains as powerful today as it was during its release in 2001. The song topped the Alternative Airplay chart and hit No. 6 at Mainstream Rock radio. —LR

Puddle of Mudd, “Blurry” (2001)

Amid the nu metal era bombast in which Puddle of Mudd delivered ass-smacking lyrics in “Control” and the female backlash anthem “She Hates Me,” the group showed a surprisingly sensitive side with the rock love song “Blurry.” The heartfelt ode struck a chord with listeners, becoming their biggest single from the breakout Come Clean album, hitting No. 1 Mainstream Rock and for Alternative Airplay. —CC

Staind, “It’s Been Awhile” (2001)

Staind arrived on the scene in 1999 and enjoyed some moderate success, but were primarily known for being signed by Fred Durst, who also co-produced their debut disc. So when 2001’s Break the Cycle album came along, it was time for the band to stand on their own. The group avoided the sophomore slump with what would become the biggest single of their career. “It’s Been Awhile” spent double digit weeks at the No. 1 spot on both the alternative and rock charts. Singer Aaron Lewis dug deep for this personal track about taking stock of his life and referencing his past romantic and substance issues. —CC

Sum 41, “Fat Lip” (2001)

Amid the rise in rap/rock at the turn of the century, a fresh new voice came from Canada. Sum 41’s youthful exuberance shone through on “Fat Lip,” a track that also embraced a bit of metal influence as well. The song was totally relatable for the younger generation, as the band simply served up ideas from their hangs as the basis for the track. The anthemic track would become the band’s breakout single and still endures as one of the top songs of the 21st century. —CC

Tool, “Schism” (2001)

Tool may be the most eclectic band to have ever been embraced by the empire of mainstream music. With the group having already developed one of the world’s most rabid fan bases, they released a work of brilliance in 2001 with Lateralus. The first single from the album, “Schism” is nearly seven minutes of sudden time signature changes and brilliant lyrics reaching for introspective depth. Tool found true beauty in the dissonance of “Schism,” receiving a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2002. —GH

Chevelle, “The Red” (2002)

“The Red” was a massive breakthrough single, going double platinum for rock trio Chevelle off of their major label debut Wonder What’s Next. With crunchy guitar riffs and the infectious chorus “So lay down / The threat is real / When his sight goes red again” complete with themes of anger and aggravation, the song ensured its place for years to come as a fan favorite. —LR

Nirvana, “You Know You’re Right” (2002)

Sadly, Nirvana’s touring and recording career ended with the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain. But luckily for fans there was additional material from the band that would be mined in the coming years. In 2002, fans were treated to the self-titled hits collection with one special addition, “You Know You’re Right,” a track penned in 1993. A studio version was recorded in January 1994 and became the centerpiece for a legal battle between Courtney and former Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. This was no simple add on, as “You Know You’re Right” stands among the band’s best works. Eventually the track was released becoming the final No. 1 single for the group. —CC

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “By the Way” (2002)

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ follow-up to Californication brought RHCP into the 21st century with an increasingly sturdy sense of importance, as “By the Way,” the title track of the band’s 2002 album, began a run which would allow the band to sell over 13 million copies of the album worldwide. Frontman Anthony Kiedis would refer to the single as “an über-bombastic assault of non-commercialism,” despite its commercial success. The chart-topping single would go on to be certified double platinum for sales. —GH

Queens of the Stone Age, “No One Knows” (2002)

In yet another unexpected and much-needed embrace of originality within mainstream music, Queens of the Stone Age created one of the weirdest and most explosive tracks of the 2000s with “No One Knows.” With an incredibly catchy, yet somewhat uncomfortable guitar hook, and the stoner rock voice of Josh Homme, the first single from the band’s third studio album was instrumental in launching Songs for the Deaf into platinum certification. The song also topped the Alternative Airplay chart. —GH

System of a Down, “Aerials” (2002)

The third single from the hugely successful Toxicity album shows a more solemn side, following on the heels of “Chop Suey” and the title track. The track ebbs and flows with heaviness, but the emotion in Serj Tankian’s vocal delivery puts the track over the top. Culminating a huge album cycle for the band, the track would top both the Mainstream Rock and Alternative Airplay charts. —CC

AFI, “Girl’s Not Grey” (2003)

Having developed from more of a SoCal punk style into a somewhat gothic post-hardcore band, AFI hit new heights with the single “Girl’s Not Grey” in 2003. Released on AFI’s sixth album, Sing the Sorrow, the spearheading single showcased a huge main riff while frontman Davey Havok displays his range and depth as a vocalist. “Girl’s Not Grey” thrust AFI into mainstream consciousness, with a bright spotlight being aimed upon them ever since. —GH

Audioslave, “Like a Stone” (2003)

Audioslave were arguably the biggest supergroup of the 21st century when they arrived. Composed of Chris Cornell and the instrumental section of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave churned out a masterpiece with “Like a Stone.” The track chronicles the mind of an old man waiting for death. Cornell explains, “It’s a song about concentrating on the afterlife you would hope for, rather than the normal monotheistic approach.” It was a chart-topper for Mainstream Rock and Alternative radio, also crossing over to hit No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. —GH

The Darkness, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” (2003)

There’s a good chance that The Darkness’ song “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” got stuck in your head when it hit airwaves in 2003. Singer Justin Hawkins’ unreal falsetto vocals and the tune’s epic melody set it apart from other songs on radio at the time. The tune was the band’s third single from their debut studio album Permission to Land. The song received a gold certification by the RIAA, while enjoying success on MTV and at Mainstream Rock and Alternative radio. —LR

Evanescence, “Bring Me to Life” (2003)

Grammy Award winning rock band Evanescence first invaded our eardrums with their infectious single “Bring Me to Life” featuring Paul McCoy of 12 Stones. The tune, off their 2003 debut studio album Fallen, went double platinum and topped charts internationally. The song was significant in that it marked a major breakthrough for a female-fronted band at a time when rock music was dominated by male artists. —LR

Blink-182, “I Miss You” (2004)

What’s this? The pop-punk kings took a walk on the goth side, delivering a heartfelt love song with a definite Cure influence on “I Miss You.” While the track was definitely viewed as a departure in their catalog, it was warmly embraced by fans and danced around the “yed” of many a listener. The track would receive a gold certification, while also topping the Alternative Airplay chart. —CC

Fall Out Boy, “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” (2004)

As the early 2000s arrived, a new musical movement started to emerge, with Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” being one of the songs to finally push the newest wave of emo into the mainstream. The infinitely catchy single tells of a twisted relationship, but remains defiant in its delivery. The track hit No. 3 for Alternative Airplay, crossed over to hit No. 8 on the Hot 100, made the group MTV stars and went on to be certified four times platinum. Way to swing, Fall Out Boy. —CC

Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (2004)

Green Day’s American Idiot was one of the 21st century’s first critically hailed albums, thanks in part to its conceptual nature and an all killer, no filler collection of songs. Tops among them was “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” the melodic and somber “me against the world” anthem. The acclaimed song hit No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock and Alternative Airplay charts, No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100, won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and received MTV’s Video of the Year award. For a song about a solitary path taken, there appeared to be universal love for this standout cut. —CC

Foo Fighters, “Best of You” (2005)

Foo Fighters have been and continue to be responsible for many rock anthems over the years. One of their most popular tunes, “‘Best of You,” came from their 2005 album In Your Honor. The inspirational and uplifting track would be nominated for a Best Rock Song Grammy and radio responded sending the song to No. 1 at Mainstream Rock and Alternative Airplay. It also crossed over to hit No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the biggest songs of the band’s career. —LR

Nine Inch Nails, “The Hand That Feeds” (2005)

After the mixed bag that was Nine Inch Nails’ 1999 double album, The Fragile, Trent Reznor took his time in honing down what it is his band does well. It may have taken six years to turn around a new record, but 2005’s With Teeth was exactly what the album title said it was. Reznor regained the aggression of his early works, and was off and running with “The Hand That Feeds.” The hard-driving song had an infectious beat and Reznor took a dip into the political pool by crafting the song about American politics and targeting George W. Bush. —CC

Breaking Benjamin, “The Diary of Jane” (2006)

Breaking Benjamin released “The Diary of Jane” in 2006 as the lead single from their third album, Phobia. The track was one of the band’s most successful and sonically accessible songs, taking more of a metallic approach than their other hits. With memorable hooks and a catchy chorus, the song hit No. 2 at Mainstream Rock Radio, No. 4 for Alternative Airplay and has been certified as a triple platinum single. —GH

Korn, “Coming Undone” (2006)

A slow-grooving stomp-clap beat lays the soundtrack for one of Korn’s biggest singles of the 21st century, “Coming Undone.” The track chugs along with a sludgy groove as Jonathan Davis makes the path to his unraveling undeniably catchy. The song peaked at No. 4 on the Mainstream Rock chart and remains one of their most popular tracks. —CC

My Chemical Romance, “Welcome to the Black Parade” (2006)

The theatrical side of My Chemical Romance was one of the drawing points for their 2004 album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, but fans wouldn’t see exactly how far the band were willing to take it until the 2006 album, The Black Parade. With a full head of steam, My Chemical Romance took on a concept record and set the stage with the epic lead single, “Welcome to the Black Parade.” It went from the lone opening sing-along, faint piano playing and taps-style drumming to the major bombast of wailing guitars and a giant chorus in one fell swoop. The group was rewarded with a triple platinum single. —CC

Five Finger Death Punch, “The Bleeding” (2007)

With metal growing somewhat stagnant in 2007, Five Finger Death Punch came along to give it a jolt. Influenced by the metal greats of their youth, the five-piece band came out of nowhere to deliver the breakout album The Way of the Fist. Led by former Motograter singer Ivan Moody, the band served up possibly their most commercial song, “The Bleeding,” as the lead single. The track itself had a more haunting and moody feel, though the metal guitar licks gave it a sound reminiscent of some of the great ’80s power ballads. —CC

Paramore, “Misery Business” (2007)

Relationships can be tricky, especially at a young age. While “Misery Business” first put Paramore on the charts back in 2007, singer Hayley Williams has retired the song live admitting that she no longer relates to some of the sentiments dredged up in the romantic conflict. The high energy rocker did give us one of the first tastes of Williams’ vocal power, helping to put the band on the map during the 21st century’s first decade. The song peaked at No. 3 for Alternative Airplay, crossed over to hit No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified four times platinum, giving them their breakout hit. —CC

Seether, “Fake It” (2007)

Seether were coming off a live album to fill the void while singer Shaun Morgan completed a stint in rehab and dealt with the suicide death of his brother. The band was experiencing their biggest break between records and had established a fairly definable sound when the Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces album arrived in 2007. The group surprised everyone when they returned with the single “Fake It”’ The opening guitar twangs and swinging beat from drummer John Humphrey were something different for the band, but their fans loved it. The song was a chart-topper at both Mainstream Rock and for Alternative Airplay, going on to be a platinum seller. —CC

Three Days Grace, “Never Too Late” (2007)

Three Days Grace have a full two decades of chart-topping hits, but it’s hard to argue that any song is more affecting from their catalog that “Never Too Late.” From their hugely successful 2007 album One-X, singer Adam Gontier revealed that “Never Too Late” “came from a very dark place, but being able to see a way out.” Issued nearly a decade before depression became a major talking point in the music industry, the song connected with many listeners going through struggles in their daily lives. The chart-topping track has been certified double platinum. —CC

AC/DC, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train” (2008)

In 2008, AC/DC had become somewhat of an afterthought while disappearing from the scene following their 2000 release Stiff Upper Lip. It was safe to wonder about their future after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. But fans were in for a surprise as the veteran rockers returned with the Black Ice album. It featured the chart-topping single “Rock N Roll Train” that helped catapult the disc to No. 1 in 29 countries. —CC

Shinedown, “Second Chance” (2008)

Shinedown had success in the early 2000s, but their album The Sound of Madness catapulted them to new highs with an incredible six singles spanning two years. One of the biggest was the heartfelt ballad, “Second Chance,” which Brent Smith wrote to his parents speaking of the strained relationship as he left home to pursue his dreams. The anthemic track hit No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart, but crossed over to hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would go on to achieve triple platinum sales status and has become one of the group’s signature songs. —CC

Alice in Chains, “Check My Brain” (2009)

“Check My Brain” came from Alice in Chains’ 2009 album Black Gives Way to Blue, their first album in almost fourteen years. It was also the first release with new singer William DuVall, who took over after the passing of vocalist Layne Staley. “Check My Brain” was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2010 at the 52nd Grammy Awards, and it also hit No. 1 at Mainstream Rock and Alternative radio. —LR

Pearl Jam, “The Fixer” (2009)

Pearl Jam rebounded in a big way in 2009 with their Backspacer album. The group followed one of their least-receptive albums with one of their best in years, and the centerpiece of the disc was the lead single, “The Fixer.” Eddie Vedder credited drummer Matt Cameron with bringing the opening riff to the table, and the song showed off a more collaborative approach for the band. The song would hit No. 10 Mainstream Rock and climbed higher for Alternative Airplay peaking at No. 2. —CC

Rise Against, “Savior” (2009)

Politically minded Chicago punk rockers Rise Against make this list with their track “Savior” from the 2008 release Appeal to Reason. The tune has poetic verses, crunchy guitar riffs and a fast pace, so it’s no surprise why this song enjoyed huge success and still gets fans going at their live shows. —LR

Avenged Sevenfold, “So Far Away” (2011)

A slow-burning, largely acoustic number that goes right to the heart of the loss Avenged Sevenfold were experiencing when making fifth LP Nightmare, “So Far Away” is a highly emotional tribute to their fallen comrade, The Rev. What this song lacks in metallic crunch it more than makes up for with its raw feeling, frontman M. Shadows laying his sorrows on the line for all to hear. The guitar solos present throughout, meanwhile, are simply sublime. —JR

Dead Sara, “Weatherman” (2012)

In the early 2010s, Dead Sara were primed to take over modern rock, mixing a grunge influence with more classic Fleetwood Mac sensibilities. “Weatherman” was their breakout hit, introducing the world to the tornado of a frontwoman named Emily Armstrong. Dead Sara have yet to match the impact of “Weatherman,” but the song marks a high point in 2010s rock and further cemented the timelessness of one guitar, one bass, one kit and a singer. —GH

Halestorm, “Love Bites (So Do I)” (2012)

Halestorm showed promise on their self-titled 2009 debut album, but absolutely took a major step forward with their sophomore set, The Strange Case Of …. Leading the way was the high energy lead single “Love Bites (So Do I),” a kick ass, raucous and unapologetic anthem as Lzzy Hale cops to her desires and her competitive spirit as she fights for her love. The gritty rocker became the band’s signature song, climbing to No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and earning the band their first Grammy for Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance. —CC

In This Moment, “Blood” (2012)

After primarily leaning more metal early in their career, In This Moment enjoyed their rock radio breakout with “Blood,” the title track from their fourth studio album. The song provided a perfect showcase for vocalist Maria Brink, allowing for a more vulnerable vocal in the verses, building to her more empowered and aggressive vocals in the chorus. The song would climb to No. 9 on both the Active Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, while opening new avenues for the band. —CC

Slash, “You’re a Lie” (2012)

Slash and Myles Kennedy had an obvious chemistry from their very first songs together on 2010’s Slash, which featured a handful of other guest vocalists. The duo released their first full collaborative effort in 2011 with the Conspirators — Apocalyptic Love — and “You’re a Lie” was the first taste of what the group had in store as a permanent entity. The song not only made the statement that Slash was going to continue on with the whole solo thing, but that he found a damn good team to do so with. Kennedy showcases his vocal range like never before, and Slash has just as much of the spotlight with his bluesy riffs and crisp solos. —LS

Stone Sour, “Gone Sovereign / Absolute Zero” (2012)

Nothing about Stone Sour’s House of Gold & Bones was ordinary, and Stone Sour set the tone for that by unleashing the rare double-single at the top of promotion for the record. “Gone Sovereign” and “Absolute Zero” tied together to kick off their album, with the opening furious guitar-driven salvo setting the story of a man tasked with a mission most would not take, while the secondary portion finds Corey Taylor singing from the perspective of a reluctant hero ready to get the job done regardless of what others may think of him. The driving “Absolute Zero” portion of the double single would eventually peak at No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart. —CC

Alter Bridge, “Addicted to Love” (2013)

It will come as a surprise to no one that Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti is a die-hard metalhead. And while “Addicted to Pain” maintains an upbeat, catchy rock ‘n’ roll beat, the shredder manages to sneak his love for heavy into small pockets of this song, tinging this Fortress anthem with metallic tones that beautifully compliment Myles Kennedy’s bright, soulful vocals, ultimately making this opus a standout track on the band’s most memorable album. —KI

Bring Me the Horizon, “Can You Feel My Heart” (2013)

An early precursor to the band’s full-on electro evolution on their most recent album amo, “Can You Feel My Heart,” the opening track from 2013’s stunning LP, Sempiternal, saw U.K. rockers Bring Me The Horizon give in to their desire to pen a mainstream-friendly rock anthem. Built around catchy electronic beats and seeing frontman Oli Sykes deliver an impressive vocal performance, “Can You Feel My Heart” set the tone for the more measured and mature approach of Sempiternal, in the process displaying the tremendous songwriting ability of its creators. —JR

The Pretty Reckless, “Heaven Knows” (2013)

We thought choirs of school children were really a Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper thing, but The Pretty Reckless recruited one of their own for the anthemic Going to Hell single, “Heaven Knows.” After the chime of a school bell and some stomping effects, vocalist Taylor Momsen comes roaring in with a sing-along chant about belonging “way down below.” The song is the first of the band’s catalog to reach the top of the Mainstream Rock Songs chart, starting a string of consecutive No. 1’s all the way into their follow-up album. What ended up being even more appealing about the single later on was its censored video, which showcased Momsen’s no-fucks, rock ’n’ roll attitude. —LS

The Struts, “Could Have Been Me” (2013)

There’s something to be said for persistence. The Struts somewhat quietly released the song “Could Have Been Me” in 2013, followed by their debut album Everybody Wants in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2015 that their breakout single finally caught fire in the U.S. The uplifting anthem about living life to the fullest captured the attention of listeners, singer Luke Spiller opening the track with, “Don’t want to live as an untold story / I wanna go out in a blaze of glory.” The message connected, serving as the band’s calling card and catapult to a buzzy rise in the rock world. “Could Have Been Me” hit No. 5 Alternative and No. 12 on the Mainstream Rock chart. —CC

Rob Zombie, “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” (2013)

One of the most important choices in a band’s career is picking an album’s lead single. When Rob Zombie opted to set the tone for 2013’s Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor with “Dead City Radio and the Gods of Supertown,” he made it clear that he was here for a good time. The song has a poppy flare to it, complete with keys, tambourines and some snazzy accents from guitarist John 5. The overall feel-good attitude is certain to ignite the listener’s instincts to party. —KI

Royal Blood, “Figure It Out” (2014)

The U.K. duo of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher had started making inroads at rock radio over the course of 2014, but things really began to blow up for the band with the release of the fourth single from their self-titled debut disc. Kerr’s sick, solitary distortion-fueled bass guitar opens the song before Thatcher kicks in with the drums and beats. Kerr’s dance around trying to figure out a new relationship is ultimately quite danceable. The track ended up being the big hit from their debut, peaking at No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart. —CC

Baroness, “Shock Me” (2015)

Baroness’ transition from sludge metal to art rock became complete with 2012’s double album, Yellow & Green, but this Purple track delivered the cathartic anthem Baroness were always capable of. “Shock Me” combines every strength in Baroness’ sonic tool kit, from unbridled emotion to lush guitar work and a monster chorus. Baroness can do no wrong, and there’s nothing shocking about that. —GH

Disturbed, “The Sound of Silence” (2015)

A brilliant cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic, Disturbed’s take on “The Sound Of Silence” was one of the most unexpected triumphs the rock world saw this decade. Remaining faithful to the original but incorporating some of the dramatic tendencies the band are known for, David Draiman and co. did a fine job here. Four years later, this cover is now arguably the song Disturbed are best known for. —JR

Faith No More, “Superhero” (2015)

In 2015, Faith No More returned with their first album in nearly two decades, Sol Invictus. Though “Motherfucker” was the album’s first single,“Superhero” was the track that gloriously explored Faith No More’s full sonic spectrum. The bombastic and cinematic track is unapologetically odd, yet extremely fulfilling and catchy — the exact dynamics that brought Faith No More their cult status. The push-and-pull of Roddy Bottom’s unnerving keyboards and Jon Hudson’s crushing guitar is expertly balanced by Mike Patton, who performs his trademark vocal acrobatics throughout the piece. —GH

Highly Suspect, “Lydia” (2015)

2015 gave us a solid new voice in the rock world, as Highly Suspect arrived with their lead single “Lydia” from the Mister Asylum album. A lurching guitar lick helps set the tension for singer Johnny Stevens’ tale of a tortured love story. His angst drips off the vocals as he sings, “I’ve seen better days / So unafraid in my youth / I can’t breathe / Much less believe the truth.” The powerhouse performance certainly caught the attention of many in the rock world with the song climbing to No. 4 at Mainstream Rock radio and earning Highly Suspect a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song. —CC

Puscifer, “Grand Canyon” (2015)

One of Puscifer’s secret weapons is the inspiration Maynard James Keenan takes from his home state of Arizona. The influence of nature is found throughout Puscifer’s gorgeous Conditions of My Parole album, but even more lavish and addictive is “Grand Canyon” from 2015’s Money Shot. “Grand Canyon” is a grounding track for those lost in the ether, encouraging listeners to find comfort in Earth’s physical wonders and reawaken their appreciation for the gift of existence. —GH

Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out” (2015)

Musically, there’s little that makes Twenty One Pilots a rock band in the traditional sense, but despite their electro-heavy sound, they’re a band born out of the rock scene. Break-out single “Stressed Out” currently stands at over ONE BILLION Spotify streams — proof if ever it was needed that the Ohio duo are a seriously big deal — and listening to its lyrics, it’s not hard to see why the song has resonated with so many music fans. A meditation on nostalgia and the trauma of adulthood, “Stressed Out” is a modern classic. —JR

Starset, “Monster” (2016)

What have we become? Technology has definitely impacted how we interact with others, but at what cost? Starset vocalist Dustin Bates analyzes that moment of self-awareness where the darker tendencies of a less socialized world are realized. The synth-heavy and highly catchy track would enjoy a monster 2017, peaking at No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart, but also finishing as the second most played song at Mainstream Rock radio for the year. —CC

Greta Van Fleet, “Highway Tune” (2017)

That scream. Now, you hear it daily in radio and TV commercials, but when the then unknown Greta Van Fleet launched “Highway Tune” in 2017, it instantly catapulted the Michigan band’s name to the top, penetrating the consciousness of generations of rock fans. It’s a sublime reminder of everything that made the burgeoning era of late ‘60s and early ‘70s rock so captivating — primal vocal passion, hot-to-the-touch guitar playing and a defined sense of rhythmic swing that made this music such a physical force long before moshing was ushered into tradition. —JD

Nothing More, “Go to War” (2017)

War can be a lot of push and pull, and you get some of that musically with Nothing More’s “Go to War,” which provides solitary falsetto one minute and in-your-face aggression the next. Tribal Depeche Mode-esque drums and powerful synths propel the song forward, as Jonny Hawkins unspools the torment of a relationship fracturing. The hard-hitting track was a monster single in 2017, topping the Mainstream Rock chart and earning the band their first Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. —CC

Fever 333, “Made an America” (2018)

Fever 333 arrived on the scene in 2018, providing an intense passion and ferocious political-mindedness not seen since Rage Against the Machine two decades prior. While the comparisons are easy to make, the Jason Aalon Butler-led group are carving out their own place in the rock world, with the title track to their Made an America EP unleashing a no holds barred aggression over some swinging verses and an anthemic chorus, all while addressing America’s problematic history with discrimination. —CC

Ghost, “Dance Macabre” (2018)

Originally forming as a doom metal throwback, Ghost progressed into an arena band by the late 2010s. The softening of Ghost could have been disastrous, but the gigantic “Dance Macabre” proved doubters wrong, giving the rock world a Queen-sized anthem that can tickle thousands of concertgoers at note one. The twist of “be wit chu / bewitch you” made the track even more satisfying, crushing a pop cliche with a touch of the occult. Expect “Dance Macabre” to remain a cessation for Ghost’s set list for years to come. —GH

Machine Gun Kelly With Yungblud + Travis Barker, “I Think I’m Okay” (2019)

There’s nothing like a great and unexpected collaboration, and a 2019 breakout pick in that category came from Machine Gun Kelly and hyperactive upstart Yungblud with Blink-182’s Travis Barker keeping the beat. The three musicians teamed up on a track called “I Think I’m Okay,” which examines one’s self-destructive patterns and self doubts. Kelly raps the verses, while Yungblud brings some emotional heft to the chorus. — CC

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