The 100 Best Songs Of All Time

I know, the title sounds ambitious. And “best” is about as subjective as it gets. But I got to thinking…what if you could only put 100 tracks on your iPod? What if you were forced to listen to just 100 songs and only those 100 songs and no others from now until forever? Could you choose? I could, and these are them. I put this together mostly because I only know of half of these because someone shared them with me. So now I am sharing them with you. A lot of them you will have heard before I’m sure. But I can guarantee there will be at least one that is new to you. I can’t guarantee you will like it, but I’m pretty confident you will.

The format is simple. First I will list the name of the artist, then I will put the name of the song in quotes. I will follow it up with a quick comment about it. Since listening to songs on iTunes is tough and not every song is there, I’m linking to a YouTube video with the song. They are all on YouTube, either as official music videos or otherwise, so you can find them all and give them a listen if you are curious.

Keep in mind, I’m a musician. I’ve written lots of music. I’m not including any of my own compositions because you can just assume I like them a lot. Soon I will record them and have a YouTube channel for them too. But I won’t put them on this list. With my music background, I appreciate unique sounds, rhythms, chords, progressions, lyrics and all of that. But I also enjoy a classic, cookie cutter song here and there as well. A quick glance at this list will show I don’t play favorites with genres either. Yes, rock is my favorite music. But as a classically trained pianist, you’ll find classical music in there as well as a few others. But as a child of the 80’s and 90’s you’ll probably notice a strong skew towards rock songs of that era as they are still and always will be my favorites.

Now…on with the show!

100. Breaking Benjamin – “Breath” Really an underrated band in my opinion. Because so much of their stuff is really heavy metal sounding with screams and all that people tend to ignore them. But some of their tracks are amazing with great rhythms and melodies. Like this one. Listen here

99. Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child Of Mine” Let’s just be honest here, Appetite For Destruction is one of the best albums ever. This track became one of my favorites once it came out on Guitar Hero 2. I played that a little too often in college. Listen here

98. needtobreathe – “Lay ‘Em Down” Chances are you haven’t heard of this band before. You can hear them on Christian radio stations which is how I discovered them. I love their sound and you’ll be seeing another one from them higher up on this list. Listen here

97. Dashboard Confessional – “Vindicated” This song came out when I was a missionary for the Mormon church so I didn’t hear it until I got home when it was one of the first songs I heard on the radio. Maybe it was not hearing rock music for so long, but it sounded really cool to me. Plus I know it on guitar, which shouldn’t mean anything but for some reason it does. Listen here

96. Michael Jackson – “Thriller” Iconic. That’s about all you can say about this track. You know it as soon as you hear it. You can’t help but move a little to the great beat. You always want to sing along. And just a little part of you wants to do that dance. The laugh at the end alone is worthy of being on this list. Listen here

95. Kansas – “Carry On Wayward Son” Another song made even better by being able to play it on Guitar Hero. What can I say, I love me some classic rock, and this is one of the most classic songs there is. Listen here

94. Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman – “The Last Of The Mohicans” Probably not a super well-known movie or soundtrack, but the main theme is one of my favorites. Also inspired AWOL Nation’s song Sail if you listen closely. Same chords. Here’s the main theme but the whole things is really good: Listen here

93. Avian Sunrise – “Bravery” Shout out to guitarist Luke Volden! He is the pupil and protege of my younger brother. So naturally when he joined a band I was interested. This is their best song to me. Couldn’t make this list without sending some love. Listen here

92. Soundgarden – “Spoonman” Another great Guitar Hero track. Actually this one might have been Rock Band, but same difference. It’s way fun to play on the drums. Great beats. And I’ve been to Seattle to the very place where the subject of this song would hang out. Frontman Chris Cornell is so talented and been involved in so much good music that he had to be on this list somewhere. Listen here

91. Smashing Pumpkins – “Tonight” As a kid me and some friends formed the SPC…Smashing Pumpkins Clan. We liked them. A lot obviously. Why put this song in over Zero, 1979 or others? I don’t know, the radio station here plays 90’s at noon every day and whenever I catch it I love hearing this one. Any song that throws in some strings is good in my book. Listen here

90. John Newton – “Amazing Grace” Perhaps the most famous folk hymn of all time, Amazing Grace has been a powerful influence in the lives of nearly all people of faith. My favorite version is from Andrea Bocelli, who might have the greatest voice on the planet. Listen here

89. Rush – “Tom Sawyer” One of the best drummers ever? No question. I gained a new found appreciation for that when Tom Sawyer came out for Rock Band and I tried it on drums. Wow. Really great song from a really great band. Listen here

88. Megadeth- “Trust” I liked this song so much I went and bought the CD (Cryptic Writings) just to have it to play before every hockey game to pump me up. It worked. Found some other great tracks on there too, but this one holds a place in my heart as I always think of the old hockey rink at the fairgrounds every time I hear it. Listen here

87. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Freebird” What can be said of arguably the most classic of classic rock songs? Super recognizable, epic guitar solo, just an all around great song. Listen here

86. Kansas – “Dust In The Wind” When I was young I would love to play computer games on Sunday afternoons after Church and before dinner. I don’t know where they came from, but we had just two songs to listen to on that computer (before days of Napster). This was one of them. I credit it for getting me into rock and roll in the first place. Might be on this list more for personal meaning than music quality. But who cares, good song still. Listen here

85. Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive” Outside of Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin, there hasn’t been a lot of great music since about 2000. Imagine Dragons made something I actually want to listen to. The crazy cool music video pushed it into the top 100. Listen here

84. David Lanz – “Cristofori’s Dream” I heard someone play this as a piano solo growing up and it may have been what got me to stick with the piano. It’s been a huge influence in my life and it’s an amazing piece of music. Listen here

83. Counting Crows – “Mr. Jones” I love the vocals in this song. Something about a raw sounding voice appeals to me. Means there is no auto tune involved. Listen here

82. Weezer – “Say It Ain’t So” Weezer absolutely had to be on this list. You could really take any song from this album and put it here, but I went with Say It Ain’t So as it was the first I heard that got me hooked. Listen here

81. Cake – “The Distance” I know every word to this song. And yes, I sing along to the whole thing like an annoying person. I fondly remember this from KOME top 8 at 9 (which was actually a top 5 on at 8, weird). This was the first Cake song I can remember and is still my favorite. Best part? Lyrics. “Engines thumping and pumping in time” in the same song as “fighting and fighting and riding on his horse.” Is it an auto race or horse race? I don’t know. Listen here

80. Boston – “More Than A Feeling” Another classic. Remember what I said about Dust in the Wind being one of two songs on my computer? This was the other one. They are what got me in to classic rock. Listen here

79. John Williams – “Hedwig’s Theme” The main theme to the Harry Potter movies is perhaps one of the most hauntingly memorable tracks I’ve ever heard. You know exactly what I’m talking about. There isn’t a person on this planet who has not heard it. Listen here

78. Blues Traveler – “Runaround” This wins the award for best use of a harmonica in a song. Listen here

77. Mormon Tabernacle Choir – “Come Thou Fount” Best choral/orchestral performance ever. The hymn itself is inspiring musically and lyrically, and this arrangement with one of the most famous choirs in the world is truly awe inspiring. Listen here

76. Tupac – “Changes” The only rap song on this list. And as far as I’m concerned, the only rap song. And for anyone curious, it borrows from “That’s Just The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsy and The Range. Listen here

75. The Beatles – “Yesterday” I know at least one person is going to give me grief for only including one song by The Beatles and at No. 75 no less. Let me get one thing straight. I just don’t really like the Beatles. I like covers of Beatles songs though. This original is one of the few I actually like. Listen here

74. Lit – “My Own Worst Enemy” This is on here because it is the song my wife and I like to play together on Rock Band the most. And it’s just really catchy, don’t you think? Listen here

73. Live – “Lightning Crashes” I really like Live. I wish I was doing a top 200 so I could include Overcome and other great songs. As this is my favorite from them, it’s all I’ll include. Listen here

72. Dishwalla – “Counting Blue Cars” If you have heard of Dishwalla, congratulations, I like you. They epitomize 90’s rock. Any fan of 90’s rock is a fan of this song. Period. Listen here

71. Stone Sour – “Zzyzx Road” I’m pretty sure this song is about suicide. Not fun stuff. Music is good though. I liked it enough to learn it on the piano. Funny story. My mom saw the lyrics on my piano once and asked me if everything was ok. Listen here

70. Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Pride And Joy” Stevie left us too soon. Great, great musician. Love listening to this song and playing it on Guitar Hero. Listen here

69. Stabbing Westward – “Shame” This is one of the first truly hard rock songs I ever heard and I fell in love. Save Yourself is an excellent track by these guys as well. This is on the list primarily because as a kid me and my friends made music videos. Our best one was to this song. Well, our best until we got HD cameras and learned how to edit. Listen here

68. Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – “Time To Say Goodbye” Two amazing voices, one amazing song. Performed by every opera singer to ever audition for America’s Got Talent for a reason. Listen here

67. Jon Schmidt – “All Of Me” If you aren’t in to incredibly impressive piano solos, then move along. If that’s your kind of thing and you haven’t heard of Jon Schmidt or The Piano Guys, you haven’t really lived yet. Listen here

66. Journey – “Faithfully” In case you haven’t noticed the trend yet, incorporating a piano into rock music is something I’m a fan of. And when you hear piano and rock, Journey is probably one of the first bands to come to mind. This is my favorite song from them. Listen here

65. John Lennon – “Imagine” Great piano work? Check. Impactful lyrics? Check. So well loved there are a million covers? Check. A truly classic song. Listen here

64. Johan Pachelbel – “Canon in D” Most notorious piece of classical music? Probably. Everyone has heard this song. Everyone has their own version. My favorite is just plain old piano with nothing else. The ironic thing is you have to stretch the definition of a canon for Canon in D to actually be consider a canon, musically. Listen here

63. U2 – “With Or Without You” Chord progressions are a big part of writing music. This song employs what is probably the most commonly used progression in music: 1, 5, 6, 4. And even though that progression is grossly overused (I’m looking at you Blink 182), I love what U2 did with this. Listen here

62. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Soul To Squeeze” I liked Red Hot Chili Peppers a lot before they changed their sound with the release of Scar Tissue. They even make my top ten with another classic of theirs. Listen here

61. Rascal Flatts – “The Broken Road” I dated a lot until I found my wife. This song really speaks to me and I’ve loved it since I heard it the first time years ago. Other stuff from Rascal Flatts? Not so much. Listen here

60. Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” One of the first songs I learned on the guitar. Always been one of my favorites. Listen here

59. Pearl Jam – “Black” Stained does a great cover of this song, but the best is still the original. Listen here

58. Metallica – “Until it Sleeps” Frankly I could have just put 100 Metallica songs on this list and still been happy with it. This is and always has been my favorite band from the moment I heard them. Musicality, lyrics, rhythms, everything is perfect. I had Enter Sandman up the list but dropped it because I didn’t want too many Metallica songs. This song is the first one we ever made our own music video to as kids. Listen here

57. Guns N’ Roses – “Paradise City” Another great one from Appetite for Destruction. Man that is a great album. I always wanted this song to come out for Rock Band because literally every one of the parts would have been a ton of fun to play. Great all around tune. Listen here

56. Eric Clapton – “Tears In Heaven” Clapton is one of the best musicians ever and is a master with the guitar. This iconic tune is one of the first every aspiring guitar player tries to learn. Catchy, memorable, just great. Listen here

55. Dragonforce – “Through The Fire And Flame” If you need to get pumped up, headbang, feel energized, whatever…this is your tune. I discovered these guys because they were on Guitar Hero, and I love the sound of their Nintendo rock as I call it. This song simply takes you on an adventure. It’s crazy. Listen here

54. Papa Roach – “Lifeline” I thought about going with Last Resort or Scars but after thinking it over this is my favorite tune from Papa Roach. Listen here

53. Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” As far as I’m concerned, this is the song that created modern rock. So many bands came from Nirvana when you think about it. The grunge/alternative movement took over the music industry for a while. This song is so classic it defines classic. Like, if you asked me “what’s a classic song?” I would say “well, something like Smells Like Teen Spirit.” And you would know exactly what I meant. Plus, dancing janitor in the music video? Classic. Listen here

52. ZZ Top – “La Grange” Another tune from Guitar Hero. You can’t help but tap your foot to this one. Love it. Listen here

51. Kurt Bestor – “The Prayer Of The Children” Warning, clicking the listen here link will make you cry. Powerful piece of music performed beautifully by the Baylor Men’s Choir and put to a slideshow that accurately portrays the song’s message. Listen here

Well look at that, you’re halfway there! You must be a true lover of music to have made it this far. As a reward, you get my top 50. What? Songs better than those last 50? Yup, they exist. And here they are.

50. Creed – “My Own Prison” The first time I heard this song I thought it was Pearl Jam. There was no Internet to look up this kind of thing back then. Oddly Creed said they were not a Christian rock band. With lyrics like these that seems…well, it is what it is. Great song. Listen here

49. Joe Satriani – “Ceremony” If you don’t know who Joe Satriani is you need to. He is one of the best guitar players to ever live. His music is crazy good and I hear when he gets together with Eric Johnson and Steven Vai it’s quite a show. Anyway, he gets two mentions, here and one more later. Listen here

48. Jimmy Eat World – “Hear You Me” Back to me as a kid making music videos. We made a video to this song and it was our best one of that era. By that I mean we had three eras. The first was play the song behind the cameraman, shoot one scene, fake playing the instruments. The second came when we could edit video and add the music on top. The final era came when we obtained an HD camera. Our video to Hear You Me was the best of the second era for sure. And it’s a great song. Listen here

47. Incubus – “I Miss You” Playing harmonics on a guitar can be tough. Especially acoustic guitar. Which is why the acoustic version of this song is really, really cool. The original isn’t bad, but the acoustic is just really good. Listen here

46. Ludwig van Beethoven – “Moonlight Sonata” Beethoven had it going on. Dude lost his hearing and still produced incredible music. This one is my favorite. Love playing it on the piano. Listen here

45. Van Halen – “Right Now” & “Ice Cream Man” I know, I’m cheating. That’s two songs. But I couldn’t choose. I had to include Van Halen, no question. But to pick which of those songs? Couldn’t do it. Listen to Ice Cream Man here and Right Now here. And yes, that’s the version of right now with the guitar solo, unlike the abomination I hear on the classic rock station here.

44. The Eagles – “Hotel California” What a great song. You know how some songs come on the radio and you debate whether you should change the station to find something better? If Hotel California comes on, that thought never crosses my mind. Listen here

43. Sublime – “Santeria” Sublime was one of my favorite bands growing up. My brother had their CD he played all the time on our way to school and that got me hooked. Great stuff. Listen here

42. Student Rick – “Meet You Halfway There” This is definitely one of my favorite little guitar riffs. I love playing it. I guess this one harkens back to my emo days as well, but I love this song. Listen here

41. Something Corporate – “Konstantine” This song is an anthem to emo. I know I’m not the only one who fell in love with this epic song. I say epic because it is at least 10 minutes long. It just…keeps…going. If you know this song, it means something to you. Really sweet tune and excellent piano work. Listen here

40. Aerosmith – “Cryin” I love Aerosmith. Their blues meets rock sound works for me. Their Big Ones album is still one of my favorites. And of course, this song is on it. Listen here

39. Scorpions – “Alien Nation” Alien Nation? What the heck song is that? I know, read your mind didn’t I? You were probably expecting Rock You Like A Hurricane, weren’t you? Well take that. I like this song better. Give it a listen and you might too. Listen here

38. Sanctus Real – “Lead Me” As a husband and father this song has HUGE meaning to me. You probably haven’t heard it if you don’t listen to Christian rock. Great song with a great message. It really speaks to me like few others. Listen here

37. Rise Against – “Swing Life Away” I love playing this on guitar and love listening to it. It’s a great little tune that often gets overlooked because Rise Against is normally a very loud band. But this gem is my favorite from them. Listen here

36. The Offspring – “Gone Away” Another song that epitomizes 90’s rock for me. The Offspring made quite a few good ones, but for me there’s no choice. This one has always been my favorite from them. I always wish an acapella group would take this one on, but haven’t heard it yet. Listen here

35. Blessid Union Of Souls – “I Believe” Another piano one. Love playing this song. Really a great track. Listen here

34. Billy Joel – “And So It Goes” I got a Billy Joel songbook just to have this music. Probably not his most well known work but it is definitely my favorite. Listen here

33. Ben Harper – “Waiting On An Angel” I love playing this on the guitar too. Nearly everything in my top 50 I’ve tried to learn it seems. I especially like Ben Harper though because he has a voice like mine. I love listening to this one from him, truly good music. Listen here

32. Coldplay – “The Scientist” Another one I love to play on the piano. They took another common chord progression (6, 4, 1, 5) and turned it into something I just love to listen to. And no, you can’t make fun of me for putting Coldplay on this list. They make another appearance higher up too. Hey, at least I didn’t put any Nickelback on here. Listen here

31. Metallica – “Hero of the Day” What?! Two Metallica songs and both from Load? Am I crazy? No, everyone else is. I liked Load. A lot. I don’t know why everyone else hated it so much. Reload…yeah, not so much. But this song is one few people know about and that’s a darn shame. Enter Sandman seems to be the one everyone else loves, and yes, good song, but I wanted to put a bit of variety in here. Give this one a listen, you’ll like it. Listen here

30. Linkin Park – “My December” I had to get Linkin Park on this list. I love their sound. But rather than put one of the popular ones everyone knows, I went with a track that’s not as well known but is still great. Listen here

29. Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue” Man I love Yellowcard. Violins belong in rock music dang it! It’s a great sound. And the beats from their drummer are stellar. This song is an excellent example. Listen here

28. Limp Bizkit – “Behind Blue Eyes” Call me crazy, but I like this cover way better than the original. No offense to The Who. I mean, they did write the song. But this version is simply superior. Listen here

27. James Horner – “Braveheart” What an amazing soundtrack for a movie. I couldn’t pick just one track, so here’s a little video with a compilation of several of them. Listen here

26. Get Up Kids – “I’ll Catch You” Blink 182 bassist and singer Mark Hoppus proposed to his wife with this song. The whole band was influenced by Get Up Kids, along with Fall Out Boy and others. I’m surprised more people haven’t heard of them. Valentine and Out Of Reach are two other great tracks from them, well worth a listen. Listen here

25. Foo Fighters – “Everlong” Great music video. Fantastically difficult yet fun drum part on Rock Band. Easily the best song by Foo Fighters. I love this one. Listen here

24. Creed – “One” Last song on their first album and it’s a great one. Very cool beat and great message too. Listen here

23. Bush – “Glycerine” I think this was the very first song I learned on guitar. What a great tune. I don’t even understand the crazy lyrics, but they seem good for some reason. The music makes up for it. Listen here

22. Aerosmith – “Crazy” When Playstation released their first sing along game (can’t remember name of it) this was on it, and I belted it out proudly. I still sing along every time I hear it. Listen here

21. Yellowcard – “Cigarette” This one predates their popularity so not many people have heard it. But I absolutely love it. The harmonies are great, just everything is great. And yes, very fun to play on the guitar. Listen here

20. The Black Crowes – “She Talks To Angels” Love the raw sound of the vocals. Rhythm is great, tune is catchy, just a great all around song I love listening to. Listen here

19. needtobreathe – “Washed By The Water” Told you there was another one from these guys. I love this song. This one got me in to Christian rock. Kind of reminds me of the previous song actually, total coincidence. Listen here

18. Eric Johnson – “Cliffs of Dover” Unfortunately I have not yet learned this song on the guitar but listen to it and you’ll see why. Crazy guitar solo. Excellent song. Best song ever to come out on Guitar Hero too. Amazing piece of work. Listen here

17. Breaking Benjamin – “Until The End” I totally dig Breaking Benjamin and something about this song has me in love with it. Listen here

16. The Ataris – “Boys Of Summer” The original by Don Henley is fine, but The Ataris took it up a notch. I love their version. Just love it. If you haven’t heard it before, stop what you are doing and listen to it. You’ll like it better than the original too, I promise. Listen here

15. Coldplay – “I’ll See You Soon” Coldplay in the top 15? Am I insane? No, this song is just really good. Tons of fun to play on guitar as well. I love this riff. Few people have heard this one too, so if you’re one of them, you really need to check it out. Listen here

14. Joe Satriani – “Crystal Planet” This song alone got me to buy the whole CD, which is great because that’s how I found Ceremony too. Tremendous guitar playing here and just a great song to listen to. Listen here

13. Apocalyptica – “Nothing Else Matters” See? Metallica on the list again and this song isn’t from Load! Don’t get me wrong here, Metallica is my favorite band. But I absolutely love what Apocalyptica did with this track. So amazing. Plus seeing a bunch of long haired dudes headbanging while rocking out on the cello is a must see. Listen here

12. Thrice – “T & C” If you have heard this song or even heard of Thrice, then I commend you. When I need to get pumped up and energized, this is pretty much my go to song. The syncopation, melody, energy, it’s all good in this song. And the opening scream is classic. Listen here

11. The Verve Pip – “Freshmen” Another one I learned on guitar early on. I don’t know what it is about this song but once I hear it I can’t get it out of my head the rest of the day. It just sticks with me. But I don’t mind. Listen here

10. Early November – “Ever So Sweet” I hear a lot of people argue about whether Early November is punk or emo. But one thing can’t be argued: this is a fantastic song. Yet another one I love to play on guitar. Listen here

9. Rufus Wainwright – “Hallelujah” You might recognize this from the Shrek soundtrack. It’s about five thousand times better than the Leonard Cohen original, which is…well, how to put it nicely…much worse than what Rufus Wainwright did with it. Listen here

8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under The Bridge” Just a great piece of music. Interesting chords, fun rhythm, great tune. Listen here

7. Radiohead – “Creep” Gosh do I love this song. As a kid when we drove long distances on vacations or whatever, we had a limited number of Game Boys. When I didn’t have one, I put in my one and only cassette tape in my walkman. I still don’t know where that tape came from, but it pretty much sucked so all I did was rewind and listen to Creep over and over again for a while. Good times. Listen here

6. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” What an impressive piece of music. Freddy Mercury outdid himself with this one. Everything about this song just works. And being featured on Wayne’s World only helps. Best song from one of the best bands there ever was. Listen here

5. Metallica – “One” There was a time when I would literally rock out to this song with two of my best friends every time I was home from college. This and Ice Cream Man. It was a tradition. And a good one I might add. Because this song can’t simply be listened to. It must be rocked out to. And when it came out on Guitar Hero I almost wet myself with excitement. Listen here

4. Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain” As soon as I was old enough to drive, one of the first places I went was the music store and bought this sheet music. I still have it even though I don’t really need it to play this masterpiece. It features just about anything you would want in a rock song. A true work of art. Listen here

3. Claude Debussy – “Clair de Lune” My favorite piece to play on the piano. Holds incredible sentimental value as well as it was the song my grandfather request I play at the funeral of my grandmother who loved it. Debussy basically did to music what the Impressionists did to painting. He was a genius. I can’t say enough how much I love this song. Listen here

2. Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven” Is there a better rock song? Nope. Even decades after it was released, it’s still the best ever written. Listen here

1. Nobuo Uematsu – “Final Fantasy VI” Ok, so this isn’t a single song but is the whole soundtrack to the best video game ever made. Nobuo Uematsu is hands down the greatest video game music composer of all time. And this is hands down his greatest work. It seems every track is a masterpiece and better yet is perfectly suited to its context in the video game. Even in their original SNES form, they are fantastic. But there are several orchestral arrangements out there of many popular tracks. Here are a few: Mystic Forest, Terra’s Theme, Closing sequence of PS release and Cyan’s Theme. You don’t have to be a video game geek like me to appreciate this music. Perhaps the greatest tribute out there would be all the covers and arrangements people have posted to YouTube, some drawing millions of views. I don’t often use epic to describe anything, but this game and it’s accompanying soundtrack is absolutely epic. It even inspired me to try my hand at an arrangement of my own, so go check it out. If you are really adventurous, go listen to the full 3 hour soundtrack. A literal masterpiece.

There you have it! Discover anything new? Hate my guts for not including an obvious one? Comment and let me know what you think!