The 100 greatest rock songs of the century... so far

80. Manic St Preachers - (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love

With the ghost of Richey Edwards having been exorcised on 2006’s Journal For Plague Lovers, the Manics returned with two self-described “big radio hits” that represented their “last attempt at mass communication”. Crammed with strings, standout single (It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love arrived like a sunbeam puncturing a storm cloud, echoing Everything Must Go’s widescreen drama. Brilliant. 

From: Postcards From A Young Man, 2010

79. The Answer - Nowhere Freeway

Upon its release, Classic Rock said that Nowhere Freeway “is irresistible, an AOR Born To Run, shot through with dead-end romanticism”, and we still stand by that assessment. This is The Answer at the top of their game. The band glide irresistibly through a song that hums with poise and class. It has roots in the styles of Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher, but also offers a passing nod to Aerosmith, The Black Crowes and Sammy Hagar.

From: Revival, 2011

78. The Rolling Stones - Doom And Gloom

By 2012, nothing more was expected from the Rolling Stones, a band with nothing left to prove, long settled into the lap-of-honour business, with a glittering back catalogue from which their set-list wrote itself. Doom And Gloom pricked up the planet’s ears, not just because Jagger, Richards, Wood and Watts in a studio is always an event, but also because it was so damn good. Strutting like a peak-period peacock, all insolent vocals and last-gang-in-town hand claps, it could have fallen through a wormhole from ’69.

From: GRRR!, 2012

77. The Hives - Hate To Say I Told You So

Subsequent Hives mega-hits such as Tick Tick Boom were more polished, but Hate To Say I Told You So was the most fiery of them all. With gloriously frantic, frills-free guitars – pitched somewhere between the Ramones and Nirvana – and a Pistols-esque refrain to match, it paved the way for this century’s wave of danceable garage rock. 

From: Veni Vidi Vicious, 2000

76. Prince - Guitar

Various musos have rocked with a disco swing in their step, but none quite like Prince, the pint-sized, Minnesota-born enigma who made guitar heroism fun and sexy. And if you thought his heyday was confined to the 80s, this banger from 2007 provided serious evidence to the contrary. Building rhythm and riffage around the brilliant line ‘I love you baby, but not like I love my guitar’, Guitar is a sass-filled highlight of Prince’s sort-of-twilight years. 

From: Planet Earth, 2007

75. Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet

Porcupine Tree fans will likely tell you that 2002’s In Absentia is the band’s best album overall, but the title track of Steven Wilson and co’s biting 2007 record (heavily influenced, among other things, by Bret Easton Ellis’s postmodern ghost story Lunar Park) was their rock/metal song to beat. Stinging, smart and heavy as hell, it packed a layered, evocative punch against the growing media overload experienced by 21st-century teenagers. 

From: Fear Of A Blank Planet, 2007

74. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - The Last DJ

In 2002, Tom Petty took the brave step of releasing an album that aimed stinging bile at what he saw as the homogenisation of the US’s network of independent radio stations. As a concept, The Last DJ comprehensively dismantled the industry’s promotion of mediocrity, image and manufactured fluff. The superb title track bemoaned the loss of independent radio, and is dedicated to “everyone who loves music just a little bit more than money”. 

From: The Last DJ, 2002

73. Dream Theater - The Dark Eternal Night

Prog-metallers Dream Theater have built a 35-year career upon Herculean levels of musicianship, and also an ability to write songs that tell stories. At almost nine minutes long, The Dark Eternal Night boasted a brilliant juddering guitar riff – voted by readers of Total Guitar magazine as the fourth-finest of the decade – and its storyline of a pharaoh that returns to life as a rampaging monster was conceived by guitarist John Petrucci after reading HP Lovecraft’s short story Nyarlathotep

From: Systematic Chaos, 2007

72. Whitesnake - Steal Your Heart Away

By the time Whitesnake recorded 2011’s Forevermore David Coverdale might not have been hitting all the high notes he once nailed with gusto, but his voice was still on splendid form, and his band had the flair to bring the best out of rock’s most exuberantly lascivious frontman. Steal Your Heart Away was a case in point. Brash, muscular and yet still infused with that bluesy oomph that the band somehow lost around the time of 1989’s Slip Of The Tongue, it was the perfect combination of Whitesnake’s much-revered pre-poodle era and the strutting bravado of the chart-ruling LA years. 

From: Forevermore, 2011

71. Feeder - Buck Rogers

‘He’s got a brand new car/Looks like a Jaguar…’. Feeder frontman Grant Nicholas has written smarter lyrics, but none have become asingrained in the music listener’s subconscious as the opening words of this buoyant, sun-drenched classic. Emulated by scores of millennials learning their first guitar chords ever since, it was proof of how effective ‘simple’ can be. 

From: Echo Park, 2001