The Foo Fighters are one of the biggest bands in the world. With eight albums to their name, multiple Grammys under their belt and having sold 20 million albums worldwide, The Foos are an institution. This makes it such an obvious decision that the Foo Fighters should be announced as the Saturday headliners of Glastonbury Festival 2017.
Whether you think of the Foo Fighters as arena-destroying behemoths or an average dunderheaded rock band that appeal mainly to people who like to refer to rock as “rawk”, everyone can agree on two things about them. One: Dave Grohl is a tattooed, beardy, gum-chewing demigod who has manners that would impress your mother and is loved by pretty much everyone on the planet. Two: they will utterly destroy the Pyramid Stage when they play, leaving nothing in their wake but a scorched barren wasteland that is occupied by nobody except a few stray crying hippies who have been left sobbing into the remains of the Stone Circle.
In celebration of the announcement that Foo Fighters are headlining Glastonbury, here are the top 10 Foo Fighters songs as chosen by us.
10) Best of You
Every rock band needs their stadium rock song. The song that is designed to have thousands of people singing along to every word with their lighters firmly in the air. The song that you and your friends drunkenly scream into each others faces when performing at karaoke. The song that is played over the slow motion highlights of every football match that has ever been screened on TV. This is Foo Fighters answer to that.
Originally written as a throw-away song for the sessions that lead to 2005’s In Your Honor, the song wasn’t even originally included in the albums track listing until their manager insisted it be re-added. It’s a good thing they listened to him as Best of You has gone on to become one of their best-loved songs, recognisable instantly from Dave Grohl’s throat-shredding accapella intro. Nowadays the song has become the centre piece of The Foo’s live shows, guaranteed to push any of their performances into becoming legendary. Prince also rather surreally covered the song when he headlined the Superbowl Half Time Show to glorious results, so if the song is good enough for Prince then it’s probably good enough for you!
Low probably wouldn’t rank on many peoples’ lists of the top 10 Foo Fighters songs, but it should!
Remembered more for its frankly hilarious video which featured Grohl and Jack Black portraying two rednecks who go to a motel and indulge themselves in a night of heavy drinking, crossdressing and pornography-watching, the song itself seems to have been forgotten somewhat. Sounding more like a band such as Deftones, Low is a complete anomaly in The Foo’s career. The heaviest song the band have ever put their name to, the song is four-and-a-half minutes of grimy noise that is full of relentless drumming, with unsettling lyrics somewhat buried in the mix under droning guitars that have been distorted within an inch of their lives. All together this gives the impression of having a power drill forced into your ear canal. Why this was released as a single is somewhat of a mystery given its lack of mainstream characteristics leading to it become one of their lesser-known singles. Don’t expect this song to be brought out when they swing by Glastonbury later in the year, but it should be as it’s up there with the Foo Fighters’ very best.
Nearly 20 years into their carer, it would be expected that the Foo Fighters would mark this milestone by slowing down, putting on fedoras and embracing middle age. It was, for this reason, somewhat of a shock when they unleashed 2011’s Wasting Light onto the world, a snarling back to basics album that was not only one of that year’s best but also arguably the best Foo Fighters album full stop. Rougher and angrier than anything the band had done in years, the album has many highlights from its furious and unrelenting opener Bridge Burning to the hardcore punk-inspired White Limo. For many though, the album’s highlight came at the end with its second single, Walk.
Starting off slow and measured, the song gradually transforms into an all out rock masterclass with its shout along chorus and it’s inspirational lyrics that would appeal to anyone who has ever fallen on hard times. By the time Grohl is literally screaming the lyrics over the song’s final crescendo, the band have not only created a new standard that they are yet to top, but also a new standard for hard rock in the 2010’s itself.
07) This is a Call
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 25 years, you will know that Dave Grohl used to drum in iconic grunge band Nirvana. Being just the drummer, few at the time would have expected Grohl to become the world-renowned superstar that he is today so it came somewhat of a shock when he released the debut Foo Fighters album in 1995, shortly after the demise of Nirvana.
Playing every instrument himself, the album was more of a cathartic release for Grohl to get over the suicide of Kurt Cobain than the start of an overall plan towards world musical domination. Considering the depressing circumstances, it is rather unexpected to be greeted – upon pressing play – with a euphoric beatlesque anthem.
Whilst many hardened Foo Fighters fans would point towards the grungy I’ll Stick Around as being the album’s true highlight, it would be a disservice to the sheer brilliance of This is a Call to overlook that song in favour of I’ll Stick Around. This is a Call features everything that fans of the Foo Fighters would come to love: from its melodic verses to its frantic drum tattoos during the bridges, this song has it all. The less said about the song’s nonsensical lyrics the better though. “Fingernails are pretty/Fingernails are good” anyone?
06) Times Like These
It was somewhat of a surprise to find – in the middle of The Foo’s heaviest and most bitter album – a song which sounds like it would fit just as well being used at a wedding as a couple’s first dance as it would being performed in a stadium. Times Like These lyrically deals with the theme of having to go through a hard time to appreciate the good around you, a shinning light within an album that is otherwise full of aggressive songs like the previously mentioned Low. An acoustic version of the song was released after the electric version and became a minor hit on pop and adult contemporary radio in its own right. This version showed that underneath the frantic guitar-playing of the original, there is a sweet song waiting to get out. Times Like These is a perfect pop anthem: any band would happily trade their entire discography just to have a song even approaching the heights that this reaches.
05) The Pretender
Despite being a Grammy-winning, platinum-selling album, many were underwhelmed by the band’s sixth album, 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. The same cannot be said for its first single however, which was hailed as one of The Foo’s very best upon release.
The Pretender is a perfect slab of modern rock, catchy and radio-friendly enough to appeal to the masses yet confrontational and aggressive enough to appeal to the rock crowds. Indeed, I couldn’t have been the only person who thought – back when it was released – that the “I’m finished making sense/Done pleading ignorance” part of the songs intro was the most hardcore thing they had ever heard up until that point. Metallica this song may not be, but that is not to take anything away from The Prentender’s driving force that erupts out of it, grabs you by the neck and forces you into submission until its closing moments . Don’t be surprised if this ends up being the highlight of their Glastonbury set!
04) Learn to Fly
In 2015 a YouTube video was released where 1,000 Italian musicians played and sung the song in unison, showing us just how big the universal love for Learn to Fly is.
Released as the lead single from 1999’s There is Nothing Left to Loose, the song took off and became the band’s first charting song on the Billboard Hot 100. Learn to Fly sounds utterly effortless; a chilled out near four minute stroll that sounds more like Tom Petty than Kurt Cobain. The song is firmly melodic, relying on an ear worm chorus and catchy verses to sell the song rather than any flashy gimmicks or heavy guitars. I can’t go any further without mentioning the songs now legendary music video, that showed Dave Grohl, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins playing nearly every character in a parody of the film Airplane! The mixture of the song’s irresistible melody and music helped it become a definitive slice of 90’s rock.
03) Monkey Wrench
It would be wrong to suggest that Foo Fighters wouldn’t be the world-conquering force of nature that they are today if they hadn’t released Monkey Wrench, but they certainly wouldn’t have been as fun. Now a staple of rock club nights, this is The Foos at their most gleefully adolescent. Grohl shouts and howls his way through the first single from 1997’s The Colour and the Shape like a man in pain. The album itself is considered by many to be the seminal Foo Fighters album. This metaphorical pain would, however, be the result of his recent breakup from his wife leaving. Armed with a descending guitar riff that is guaranteed to get anyone running to the mosh pit and one of the most quotable shout along’s during the song’s bridge in the history of music, few could ignore the grenade of sheer angry joy that Monkey Wrench is. Breakups have never sounded this fun!
02) All My Life
In the early 00’s the Foo Fighters were in disarray. Recordings for the album that would go on to become 2002’s One by One were plagued by infighting and for a period of time it looked like The Foo’s would break up. Taking a break from the band, Grohl upped sticks and drummed on stoner rock legends Queens of the Stone Age’s seminal album Songs for the Deaf. When he returned back to Foo Fighters, obviously re-energised, Grohl quickly bashed out this piece of noisy alt rock that clearly shows more than a little bit of an influence from his time with Queens of the Stone Age. The song is The Foo’s at their best, firing from all cylinders with this all-out rocker that bursts out of the speaker with every syncopated guitar hit. Built around a jerky and menacing white noise-esque guitar riff, the song sounds like it’s Grohl’s attempt at doing a metal song until it’s arena-ready chorus kicks in and becomes a song that only Foo Fighters seem to be capable of. All My Life is a firm fan favourite that would convert even the most closed-minded people into becoming a Foo Fighters fan.
Could it be anything else?
Anyone who dismissed the Foo Fighters as just being a comical fluke by Dave Grohl were proved deafeningly wrong when they discovered the band’s second album contained one of the greatest rock songs of all time.
Starting with an atmospheric guitar intro, the song slowly builds until it leads into Grohl’s most emotional and pained vocal performance. Written when Grohls first marrige was falling apart, the lyrics are also deeply romantic with Grohl stating “that song’s about a girl that I’d fallen in love with and it was basically about being connected to someone so much, that not only do you love them physically and spiritually, but when you sing along with them you harmonize perfectly.” The contrast between these two themes gives Everlong a unique feel that is both deeply romantic and yet also creepy and unsettling. Once paired with Michel Gondry’s mind bogglingly surreal music video, you have one of the defining post grunge anthems of the 90’s and beyond.
If you think that we are missing a song from this list then let us know. The Foo Fighters will be headlining The Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2017 on June 24th.
The top 10 Foo Fighters songs
A list without MY HERO isn’t a list at all. Pass.
Agreed. And dodgy spelling upsets me …
Well written – enjoyed reading it.