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

70. Fountains Of Wayne - Stacy's Mum

Fountains Of Wayne’s super-hit Stacy’s Mom has the hallmarks of a one-hit wonder. Silly band name that you struggle to recall for anything else? Check. Primary school-level refrain? Check. A tune that just won’t leave your head? Check. In truth Stacy’s Mom sells the band rather short – across their five albums there was plenty of strong stuff – but none of their releases were anything like as big as this glittering masterclass in Cars-come-Weezer power-pop. 

From: Welcome Interstate Managers, 2003

69. Bon Jovi - It's  My Life

Many of Bon Jovi’s biggest hits of the 80s and 90s, from You Give Love A Bad Name to Keep The Faith, were co-written with so-called ‘hit doctor’, Desmond Child. But with 2000’s It’s My Life it was Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin, author of Britney Spears’ hit …Baby One More Time, among many others, whose commercial savvy paid dividends. The result was a very modern rock anthem – bang on trend, and a monster hit around the world. 

From: Crush, 2000

68. Deep Purple - Vincent Price

Alice Cooper isn’t the only classic rock heavy hitter to have capitalised on Halloween. With Vincent Price, Deep Purple enjoyed their own spook-tastic late-period hit, powered by a big swaggering monster of a groove from guitarist Steve Morse. Gimmicky? Hell yes. But it worked.

From: Now What?!, 2013

67.  Blackberry Smoke - Ain't Much Left Of Me

In an otherwise highly changeable set-list – with their six albums of supersweet southern rock they’re spoiled for choice – Ain’t Much Left Of Me is one that always gets requested and played. Described by frontman Charlie Starr as “a ‘nobody knows you when you’re down ’n’ out’ kinda song”, it was a warm, uplifting swell of harmonised, heartstring-tugging southern charm. 

From: The Whippoorwill, 2014

66. Uriah Heep - Overload

It was a mark of Uriah Heep’s recalibrating stature that Wake The Sleeper, their twenty-first studio album, was one of the nominees for Album Of The Year at the 2008 Classic Rock Awards. Although Whitesnake stole the gong with Good To Be Bad, Wake The Sleeper still resonates as a consistently strong collection. And Overload was an early reinforcement of the album’s greatness, from those trademark step-vocal harmonies to Mick Box’s unmistakable wah-wah guitar parts.

From: Wake The Sleeper, 2008

65. Marillion - Living In Fear

Most bands don’t sound this urgent, ambitious or just plain good by the time they get to their eighteenth album. Then again, Marillion are not most bands, and Living In Fear is not your average politically charged progressive anthem. Led by plaintive piano chords and singer Steve Hogarth’s uniquely expressive vocal tone, it escalates into emotional fierceness, soaring guitars and a sublime earworm of a chorus.

From: F.E.A.R., 2016

64. Buckcherry - Crazy Bitch

Even in 2006 Crazy Bitch wasn’t exactly PC, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a killer rock song – complete with the sort of more-is-more approach to profanity that would later lead to 2014’s Fuck EP. On a level with their breakout hit Lit Up, this was the song that brought Buckcherry back from the brink. 

Three members had quit, the band were floundering, and singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson were smarting following rejection from Slash’s supergroup (who went on to bring in Scott Weiland and become Velvet Revolver). With 15, and Crazy Bitch especially, Buckcherry sounded like a group just getting started. 

From: 15, 2006

63. The Cadillac Three  - Tennessee Mojo

This strutting, charismatic slingshot of buzz-saw chops, treacly slide guitar and country-fried tones was our introduction to the Nashville three-piece, and eight years later it’s still one of our favourites. 

The Cadillac Three’s unique ‘country fuzz’ brew of guitars, lap-steel and drums – tied together by frontman Jaren Johnston, the most gloriously southern-sounding man in the south – was a zingy breath of fresh air that cut through the stale side of Music City and found a devout following in the UK. No wonder the song remains a staple in their live sets.

From: Tennessee Mojo, 2013

62. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising

As America mourned in the wake of 9/11’s terrorist attacks, Bruce Springsteen made The Rising. For the first time in 18 years, he had the E Street Band at his side to give heart, soul and heft to his songs, and crucially, a new producer in Brendan O’Brien to harness their elemental power. Here the guitars of Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren were as hard as diamond, Max Weinberg’s drums like blows to the solar plexus. 

It was no accident that The Rising was Springsteen’s most vibrant-sounding record in years, its surging, uplifting title track (with vivid lyrics telling the tale of an NYC firefighter on that fateful day) offering the comfort that light could be found even in the cruellest, most impenetrable-seeming blackness. 

From: The Rising, 2002

61. The Virginmarys - Bang Bang Bang

Slash was an early fan of these Macclesfield rockers, taking them on tour, featuring them on his compilation CD for this magazine (2012’s This Is Radio Slash) and wearing their T-shirts on stage. Judging by this scorching punch-in-the-face of a tune (incidentally, the one Slash chosen for his aforementioned compilation), it wasn’t difficult to see why. 

Boasting that elusive combination of eloquent imagery, untamed ferocity and the sort of instantly effective brass-balls hooks that many bands would sell a kidney for, Bang Bang Bang had depth, originality and immediacy. The fact that singer Ally Dickaty and drummer Danny Dolan look like they’re about to kill someone every time they play it only adds to its power. 

From: King Of Conflict, 2013

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.