Top 10 Decade Defining Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Songs: All Time
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean. These tunes rocked us hard, fast and everything in between. For our series on the Top 10 Decade Defining Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Songs of all time, we've based our choices on a mix of a track's success, popularity and their ability to represent the decades they were released in. This is part of a series of videos spanning hard rock and heavy metal music from the 1970s to the 2000s. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for top 10 decade defining hard rock and heavy metal songs of all time. Special thanks to our users akt, max-Emadness, superpie43, frodo mine, Dark-Knight99, Alex Garvens, SuperUknowuwantit, Jarradw411, Cole Pollock, and Greenhead for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean.
Top 10 Decade Defining Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Songs of All Time
These tunes rocked us hard, fast and everything in between. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for top 10 decade defining hard rock and heavy metal songs of all time.
For our series on the Top 10 Decade Defining Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Songs of all time, we’ve based our choices on a mix of a track’s success, popularity and their ability to represent the decades they were released in. This is part of a series of videos spanning hard rock and heavy metal music from the 1970s to the 2000s.
#10: “Walk” (1992)
Beginning with that swinging riffing style so reminiscent of groove metal, this song is filled to the brim with anger and threats of violence, an embodiment of what Pantera stood for. You mess with them, and you’ll experience a vulgar display of power that you won’t recover from anytime soon. As the most well-known track to diehard fans and casual listeners alike, “Walk” is an anthem that will make you want to slam your fists to the beat.
#9: “Welcome to the Jungle” (1987)
Guns N’ Roses
This song took the hard rock and heavy metal worlds by storm in the late ‘80s. The second single off their debut Appetite for Destruction, “Welcome to the Jungle” introduced a fresh sound into the genres and became a Hot 100 top 10 smash for Guns N’ Roses. The raw talent of Slash’s guitar solos, matched with Axl Rose’s intense vocals, gave us a precise yet powerful tune that’s not only a band live staple but is consistently cited as one of rock’s greatest.
#8: “Ace of Spades” (1980)
You can’t think of Motorhead without thinking of this song. With Lemmy’s signature gravelly vocals, and a speedy style of guitar play, you get a recipe for a classic rock tune with a metal twist. This heavy combination ensures that “Ace of Spades” is a simple yet effective anthem, and that’ll it go down in music history as one of the greats of heavy metal.
#7: “Run to the Hills” (1982)
Known among rock and non-rock fans, this song is the beginning of a new era for the band. With the introduction of Bruce Dickinson as lead vocalist, Iron Maiden released several epic and genre-defining tracks. While “The Number of the Beast” is certainly up there, it’s “Run to the Hills” from the former’s parent album that steals the spot, thanks to its galloping bass line, classic heavy metal sound and vivid imagery of America’s violent history.
#6: “Highway to Hell” (1979)
One of the band’s signature tunes, “Highway to Hell” is a hard rocking song that became an unfortunate reflection of life on the road for the Aussie musicians. The lyrics about a grueling tour, along with the sudden death of frontman Bon Scott six months after the track’s release, has made the single all the more potent. With Mutt Lange’s production work and a signature riff introducing it, this is one AC/DC number that won’t soon be forgotten.
#5: “Peace Sells” (1986)
While “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” is an excellent track, it’s the fact that “Peace Sells” is a landmark in heavy and speed metal that it makes our list. The 4-minute number also helped propel Megadeth from Dave Mustaine’s dream project into a reality, especially since it was released following their signing to a major label record deal. Able to hold its own against the most renowned thrash metal tracks, “Peace Sells” is regarded as a classic of the genre. The opening bass line, along with the sharp vocals, are all you need to hear before the song takes hold!
#4: “Crazy Train” (1980)
While Ozzy’s origins in Black Sabbath may have made him a household name, it was this single that broke him into the United States as a solo artist. Meanwhile, Randy Rhoads’ main guitar riff on “Crazy Train” is legendary. Now one of the Prince of Darkness’ most popular tunes, it also became a top 10 on Billboard’s Rock Tracks Chart during the early ‘80s. And honestly, what more would you expect from the Godfather of Heavy Metal? Keep that crazy train rolling, Ozzy!
#3: “Kashmir” (1975)
This song borrows elements from classical Arabic, African and Asian music, all the while invoking thoughts of an endless journey with its hard rock and progressive rock vibes. Writing the lyrics to such a mighty composition was such a challenge for frontman Robert Plant that he was almost brought to tears. Though we reckon those later turned into tears of joy upon completion, as the band members have stated that Kashmir is the “definitive Led Zeppelin song” and it quickly became an essential live track.
#2: “Paranoid” (1970)
It may have started as an afterthought for the album of the same name, but “Paranoid” became one of the band’s greatest hits. Ozzy and crew managed to create a heavy metal monster of a sophomore effort, with this track spearheading its way into musical history through a blast of sound. Praised for its incredible guitar riff, the less-than-two-minute track is still placed in the top tier of heavy metal to this day and has also found its way into pop culture.
Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Chop Suey!” (2001)
System of a Down
“Killing in the Name” (1991)
Rage Against the Machine
“Wait and Bleed” (1999)
“One Step Closer” (2000)
#1: “Master of Puppets” (1986)
Though we considered the power ballad “One” and their mainstream breakthrough, “Enter Sandman,” it’s this Metallica single that really changed the face of thrash metal and the band’s career as we know it. With its heavy speed and heavier sound, “Master of Puppets” stopped fans of the genre dead in their tracks. The sharp vocals dealing with the all-consuming nature of drugs, and its unforgettable guitar riffs all combine to deliver an 8-and-a-half-minute number that’s since become a Metallica signature tune, a live concert and pop culture staple, as well as one of heavy metal’s most indispensable singles.
Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the greatest hard rock and/or heavy metal song of all time? For more entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.