The 20 Classic Rock Rebel Songs To Headbang To
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - American Girl (Live Aid 1985) - Live Aid / Youtube
Headbanging, in the end, is the ultimate form of devotion for a rock fan. If you want to show off how much music really shakes you to your core, there’s no better way to do it than by whipping your head up and down in a rhythmic, repeating manner. When compared to other bodily responses, beating one’s head requires essentially no mental processing whatsoever. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 20 songs that, when played loud enough, always make us want to bang our heads.
The Who – “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971)
It’s no surprise that a Pete Townshend song would have a lot of layers, and that’s certainly the case with “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Simply said, he attributed the song’s inspiration to “the power of music and congregation.”
Ramones – “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” (1977)
“Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” the Ramones’ first Top 40 hit, launched a career that few groups can match in terms of unrestrained defiance. “Sheena” was the first song written about “surf punk-rock” adolescent rebellion, and that’s according to Joey Ramone.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Rebels” (1985)
“It’s a story song, about a guy being arrested for being drunk and disorderly,” Petty clarified, “and his frustration at basically what a screw-up he is – and he’s trying to blame it on his heritage. And it’s not really working.”
Skid Row – “Youth Gone Wild” (1989)
Skid Row became known as pretty nasty boys with an axe to grind thanks to their debut track “Youth Gone Wild,” which was featured on their self-titled debut album.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Almost Cut My Hair” (1970)
Many young people in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s were associated with the spirit of independence and nonconformity embodied by the song “Almost Cut My Hair.”
Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” (1983)
Using Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” as their rallying cry, a whole new generation of rock fans will enthusiastically demand “more, more, more.”
Guns N’ Roses – “Out ta Get Me” (1987)
Rage is palpable throughout the band’s album, Appetite for Destruction, but it boils out in “Out to Get Me,” with its explosive riffs and Axl Rose’s caustic rejections of his oppressors.
T.Rex – “Children of the Revolution” (1972)
Marc Bolan mastered defiant bravado, and it shows in T. Rex’s “Children of the Revolution.” Despite being a one-off release, this song inspired many future musicians.
Steve Miller Band – “Take the Money and Run” (1976)
“Take the Money and Run” is a road trip classic in every way. If it didn’t make breaking bad sounds so enjoyable, it could have served as a cautionary story about the perils of having too much free time.
Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation” (1980)
The former Runaways singer’s troubled past served as inspiration for the song, which she wrote after struggling to sign a record deal as a solo artist.
The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” (1968)
Who knows, maybe “Helter Skelter” was the first true headbanger in rock. In the first lines, there is a sudden, devastating drop that jerks the listener’s entire upper body forward.
Judas Priest – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (1982)
Because it captures and intensifies the band and its fans’ indomitable spirit, this Judas Priest headbanger “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” would have quickly become a regular in the band’s setlist had it been included.
Bruce Springsteen – “Growin’ Up” (1973)
A spoiled brat, the narrator of Bruce Springsteen’s “Growin’ Up” defies authority at every turn: “When they said sit down, I stood up,” “when they said come down, I threw up,” “when they said pull down, I pulled up.”
John Mellencamp – “Authority Song” (1983)
There is a lengthy and tangled history between John Mellencamp and those in positions of power. The track “Authority Song” was featured on the debut album released under his then-stage name, John Cougar.
Mötley Crüe – “Shout At The Devil” (1983)
A spoof and a master class in heavy metal history, “Shout at the Devil” is a masterpiece. The song’s tremendous popularity and gang-vocal chant give it an air of cheese, on the one hand.
Judas Priest – “Metal Gods” (1980)
Although many Priest songs are about crushing, slapping, and slaying, few match the constant pace and leaping riffs of “Metal Gods,” which has come to represent the band even though it’s about being slain by robots.
Pantera – “Walk” (1992)
Dimebag Darrell’s musical prowess relied more on gut instinct than fancy precision, as seen by the finger-licking guitar riff at the heart of Pantera’s “Walk.”
Alice Cooper – “School’s Out” (1972)
When compared to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” the summertime song that Alice Cooper released in 1972 carries much less emotional weight. It’s true that at one point the school is “blown to pieces,” but it’s all in good fun, so don’t worry.
Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
The majority of the song consists of the band performing a sort of madcap opera that is full of insane lyrics. However, the massive guitar break that occurs in the middle of the song, complete with its massive riff and whiny lyrics, makes it a great headbanger.
Black Sabbath – “Children Of The Grave” (1971)
Black Sabbath was one of the few bands to fully appreciate the significance of headbanging as a physical oath of commitment. Headbanging is a rather combative sign of gratitude for them.