Top 14 Most Underrated Rock Songs
These Songs Need More Love
They didn’t get enough radio airplay. Some fans have either forgotten them or probably didn’t even know they exist. But these songs are just as good (if not better) than other more popular tracks.
In case you’re just discovering these, you’re welcome.
14. The Beatles – “Old Brown Shoe”
George Harrison’s songwriting talent has always been underrated during his time with The Beatles. The man wrote fine songs but he was never given as much credit as John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In fact, some would agree he wasn’t exactly provided with enough opportunities for him to reach his potential while with the Fab Four.
“I started the chord sequences on the piano (which I don’t really play) and then began writing ideas for the words from various opposites: I want a love that’s right / But right is only half of what’s wrong. Again, it’s the duality of things – yes-no, up-down, left-right, right-wrong, etc.” – George Harrison
It’s a masterpiece and why few people know about it or listen to it on a daily basis, we absolutely do not know. It’s one of the finest pieces George Harrison ever made and his solo is nothing but pure musical heaven.
13. Pink Floyd – “Summer ’68”
It’s an underrated song from the criminally underrated 1970 album Atom Heart Mother. Rick Wright managed to make his mark in rock history when he wrote and sang this track – if anything, this convinced people of the possibility that Pink Floyd was indeed from a whole different dimension. The opening itself is pure perfection.
The lyrics basically describe touring and meeting groupies in the process.
“the catchiest and most-accessible track on the album…” – Sputnik Music’s Irving Tan
From the groovy chorus and beautifully unique vocal harmonies to the insanely good solo breaks, it should easily be up there among Pink Floyd’s greatest hits. But somehow, it gets lost in the mix which is absurd given how excellent it sounds. It’s one of those that make you wonder why it didn’t get the recognition and appreciation it rightfully deserved.
It’s solid and never fails to keep you on the edge of your seat.
12. Metallica – “Trapped Under Ice”
The guitar riffs are mindblowing and the whole song is just something else. The opening alone is like a punch in the face.
It was written from scratch back in Copenhagen, the lyrics tell the story of someone who woke up from a cryonic state. It may be one of Metallica’s most underrated tracks but it’s now quite famous because they passed up the chance to sing it during their 2013 live performance in Antarctica – a major bummer if you ask us.
Fun Fact: This was inspired by a demo from Kirk Hammett’s former band Exodus. It was called “Impaler.”
It’s fast paced and morbid. As far as metal songs go, it’s on the same level as other Metallica songs but we’re still curious as to why it’s not as well-loved even by hardcore fans. The thing is, it may be underrated but it set the bar high and is actually way better than other cuts.
11. The Killers – “Sam’s Town”
This reminds you of all the classic rock songs you grew up listening to and playing it always brings back so many memories. It’s catchy and glorious. Written by Brandon Flowers, it’s the title track of The Killers’ underappreciated second studio album.
“We didn’t use too many vocal effects. On the first album, we used auto-tune, and I didn’t even realize what was going on with these machines and the computer. I was adamant about not using it this time. You really hear what my voice sounds like, for the first time.” – Brandon Flowers on the highly ambitious “Sam’s Town” album
The band took a risk and while it paid off in the long run, it wasn’t as loved and well-received as “Hot Fuss.” And we think it’s unfair because this song alone is enough to make you want to listen to the whole album. Critics were harsh so just judge it for yourself.
10. The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
This song gets to you in a really good way. You don’t often see this on most people’s list of the top 10 greatest tracks by The Clash. And why it never received the credit it absolutely deserved is beyond us. There’s attitude, there’s punk, and there’s elegance. Seriously, what more can anyone ask for?
While the album, London Calling, has been widely praised by critics and fans, it’s baffling why few actually enjoy this little piece of musical heaven called “Jimmy Jazz.”
“This is an album that captures all the Clash’s primal energy, combines it with a brilliant production job by Guy Stevens and reveals depths of invention and creativity barely suggested by the band’s previous work.” – The New York Times’ John Rockwell
Maybe one thing worth noting here is how Joe Strummer delivered the song. For that, we have no words – the man is a musical genius. Period.
9. Velvet Underground – “Venus in Furs”
A song that’s way ahead of its time but still for some reason, doesn’t get enough recognition. If someone asked you what’s the first song that comes to mind when you think of The Velvet Underground, chances are, this won’t be on your list. Of course for those who know and love it, there’s no denying that it’s the track that sealed the deal and made every other rock band insignificant compared to them.
“There is no intro or buildup to the song; the track starts as if you opened a door to a decadent Marrakesh S&M/opium den, a blast of air-conditioned Middle Eastern menace with a plodding beat that’s the missing link between “Bolero” and Led Zeppelin’s version of “When the Levee Breaks””. – Erich Kuersten
For us, it’s the best song in their 1967 album The Velvet Underground & Nico. It’s haunting, thumping and unforgettable – you can’t shake the melody out of your system even if you tried.
8. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – “Country Girl”
We’ll just get this out there and say what every classic rock fan thinks – today’s music will never compare to this, nothing will even come close. From the melody and hauntingly beautiful vocal performance to the lyrics – “Country Girl” proved what we already know, that these guys were way ahead of their time. It’s often overlooked but the moment you play it, it never fails to hit you right in the feels.
“”Country Girl” was the most unusual song on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s chart-topping 1970 album Deja Vu. Most of that record was chipper romanticism or reflections on the counterculture. By contrast, “Country Girl” was, like many Neil Young compositions, opaque and inscrutable, though comfortably melodic enough for it to fit onto the album without jarring the listener.” – AllMusic reviewer Richie Unterberger
With a fantastic tune and impressive vocals, the song will stay with you for days on end.
7. The Kinks – “This Time Tomorrow”
One of the greatest mysteries in the history of rock ‘n roll is why The Kinks continue to be the most underrated band of all time. Why though? Even at their finest moment, they were practically ignored. And so it goes without saying that their track “This Time Tomorrow” will definitely land a spot on this list.
“I felt that I’d lost contact with my family. Because I’d been in a pop music bubble for five years, and I didn’t know the people around me anymore. ‘This Time Tomorrow’ was about transience, and an ephemeral world. Clouds, and where do we play tomorrow, and what am I doing as a person tomorrow? It’s a floating song, and I was floating into a different era. Going with the flow for a while, until I work out where I want to be.” – Ray Davies on the song’s inspiration
Gotta love everything about this track! It’s Davies at his finest!
6. David Bowie – “Oh! You Pretty Things”
If you know about this song and liked it before reading this list, then congratulations, you have an exemplary taste in music! And anyway, there are several David Bowie songs which are so underappreciated but perhaps this one tops the list. It’s hauntingly beautiful and the opening is simple but splendid because the listener is treated to nothing but the piano and Bowie’s smooth as silk voice.
“David wanted it to be very simple but if I remember rightly he kept cocking up the little riff. He did a few bits of it and I did the rest. He did the beginning.” – Rick Wakeman
Watching this clip now makes you miss him more. There was always something otherworldly about him – his voice, his face, his whole presence. But with this song, it reminds you that David Bowie is a god among gods. And we’re hoping that more people will get to appreciate “Oh! You Pretty Things.”
5. Led Zeppelin – “The Battle of Evermore”
Led Zeppelin probably has some of the most popular rock songs of all time – “Stairway to Heaven,” “Kashmir” and “Whole Lotta Love.” But on the other side of the spectrum, they also happen to have great tracks which were relatively ignored. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch so let’s just say tracks which weren’t given their much-deserved credit. Take this song for example, it’s a masterpiece but it’s not as appreciated as the aforementioned ones.
“”Battle of Evermore” was made up on the spot by Robert [Plant] and myself. I just picked up John Paul Jones’s mandolin, never having played a mandolin before, and just wrote up the chords and the whole thing in one sitting.” – Jimmy Page
In case you think you didn’t read that right, yes they made it ON THE SPOT. Besides, it’s not everyday we get to hear a great song that references The Lord of the Rings.
4. Neil Young – “Cowgirl in the Sand”
No one can do it better than Neil Young. As a songwriter and musician, he is the very definition of “perfect.” His playing is simple but it gets to you. It’s never sloppy and somehow, his songs always leave a mark. This one is no exception, well maybe aside from the fact that it’s not as popular as his other hits even when it should be.
“On “Cowgirl in the Sand” everything works. The lyrics are quietly accusative, while the lead guitar, alternately soaring, piercing, and driving, keeps the song surging forward. But it is Young’s singing which is the real key to the success of this track. “Cowgirl in the Sand” demonstrates quite clearly the peculiar depths of Young’s voice.” – Rolling Stone’s Bruce Miroff
We can go on and on about what makes this an excellent track but the fact remains, it’s not as widely recognized as his other hit songs.
3. Van Halen – “D.O.A.”
It’s kind of sad when people claim they’re huge Van Halen fans and the only song they know (their favorite apparently) is Eruption. Well it’s not like the band made just that one good track. If you don’t believe us, listen to “D.O.A.” This song kicks so much ass but few know or even appreciate its greatness. The guitar tone alone is a real killer!
“By combining Eddie Cochran teenage blues, Tom Waits gutter grit and one-chord punk-rock raunch, Van Halen created a poetic anthem of untamed youth that’s the aural equivalent of the Fifties juvenile-delinquent exploitation film. As acrobatic solo ascends, dives, and spins out of control like a stunt pilot and ends with him wiggling and obnoxious mocking melody with his whammy bar, like a stiff middle finger waved under a police officer’s nose.” – Guitar World
It’s unfortunate that you rarely hear it on the radio and the thing is, you can never play it loud enough.
2. Guns ‘n Roses – “Civil War”
Guns ‘n Roses isn’t exactly the first band to come to mind when you think underrated. But you’d be surprised to know they have pretty good songs which are lesser known than the ever popular “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle” or “November Rain.” With “Civil War,” GnR took a stand against war with powerful statements like “feeds the rich while it buries the poor.”
“Basically it was a riff that we would do at sound-checks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And… I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that’s when: “Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: ‘Peace could last forever’?” It’s just true-life experiences, really.” – Duff McKagan
It didn’t just deal with the Vietnam War but also civil rights in the United States.
1. Queen – “Stone Cold Crazy”
Queen has probably performed all sorts of musical styles but we all know Freddie Mercury’s versatility – he can go from opera to hard rock and the transition will be smooth and flawless. With “Stone Cold Crazy,” you’d wonder why it didn’t get the credit and recognition it deserved. If you think they couldn’t play thrash, then you’d be surprised.
“straight-up punk-rock drumming. […] In essence, Taylor’s groove is a double-stroke roll split between his bass drum and snare drum with some cool accents played on his crash cymbals. Taylor later re-enters with a dramatic and decidedly non-punk fill to restart the groove.” – DRUM! Magazine on Roger Taylor’s drumming
This is so bad ass, Metallica decided to do their cover version. Still, we have no idea why this song remains in the shadow of “Under Pressure,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You.” More people need to listen to this because it should be appreciated more.