Top 10 Bad Religion Songs

Bad Religion Songs

Photo: Cecil / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Bad Religion is one of the longest-running American punk rock bands of all time. The group was formed in Los Angeles in 1980. One of the most intelligent bands around, vocalist Greg Graffin is, in fact, a college lecturer, and the band has always been outspoken about politics and, as their name would suggest, religion. Despite their roots being very much in the underground, they have achieved much commercial success throughout their career, mainly due to their melodic brand of punk, which has often contained pop sensibilities. They have had a lot of line-up changes during their time, with Graffin being the only constant member.

The early releases were through guitarist Bret Gurewitz’s own label, Epitaph. This label was extremely crucial during the ’90s as it released albums from several other bands who were the leading players of the ’90s punk revival, such as The Offspring, NOFX, and Rancid. Gurewitz left to concentrate on the label full-time in 1994. He returned in 2001. Bad Religion has continued to tour and record frequently, remaining popular and successful.

# 10 – Punk Rock Song

The first song on this list from The Gray Race was released in 1996. This album is from their post-Epitaph era when they were signed to a major label, Atlantic Records. It was the album’s second single, and although it did not chart in the US, it is their highest charting single in several other countries. The highest was in Finland at number 5. The album was their first with guitarist Brian Barker formerly of legendary hardcore band Minor Threat, who has remained with the band ever since.

# 9 – The Devil In Stitches

This song was taken from Bad Religion’s 2010 album and was written by Gurewitz. The track sees the band in rather commercial territory as they have adapted their sound for modern times here, with the vibe of the song being more than a little reminiscent of the sound of today’s emo/post-hardcore bands, many of whom owe an enormous debt to Bad Religion. As a result, it was commercially successful, reaching number 38 on the Billboard Rock charts.

# 8 – Los Angeles is Burning

Next on our list of top 10 Bad Religion songs is a great one from 2004’s The Empire Strikes First. It is one of the band’s more political cuts, about sensationalism in the American media. It reached number 40 on the Billboard charts. The album itself reached the same position on the album charts. Many of the songs on the record were lyrically inspired by the war in Iraq, a current global issue at its release. By this point, the Gurewitz was back in the band, and they were back on Epitaph.

# 7 – Watch It Die

This track is taken from 1993’s Recipe For Hate, their major label debut, and is primarily considered their breakthrough album. This is somewhat solidified because this track features Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, who at that time was one of the biggest-selling bands of the then-massive grunge movement, on backing vocals. The track has an element of that kind of sound to it. Grunge was often said to have been the next punk movement, and Bad Religion was a punk band that took the opportunity to make their mark here.

# 6 – Into the Night

Here is an earlier track from the band’s debut album, How Could Hell Get Any Worse? This track sounds quite different from the later material with which the band would find mainstream success. This is pure early 80’s hardcore and somewhat reminiscent of Black Flag, with Graffin’s vocal performance being very similar to Henry Rollins’s. This record had a much faster production than the later materials. Naturally, with it being underground hardcore, no singles were released, and it did not chart.

# 5 – Faith Alone

Taken from the 1990s Against the Grain album, the band evolved from the earlier sound, sounding almost unrecognizable from Bad Religion, who recorded the previous entry in this list. The melodic elements, which have always been a crucial part of the band’s sound, are genuinely coming to the forefront here, particularly with the backing vocals, which add a lot, making the sound accessible enough for radio airplay.

# 4 – Stranger than Fiction

This song is the title track of their 1994 album. It was the record’s third single and is one of their most celebrated songs. The song is a live favorite with the fans, perhaps because it is a very energetic-sounding number and very short and sweet, kicking in at just 2 minutes and 20 seconds. The single was released in multiple formats, with different countries containing different B-sides. It charted in the US at number 28.

# 3 – Infected

At number three on our list of top 10 Bad Religion Songs is one of the group’s signature tracks from Stranger Than Fiction. It is one of the songs responsible for the band’s first true mainstream success. It charted in the Billboard Album Tracks at number 33 and the Billboard Rock Tracks at number 27, respectively. To this day, it is a live favorite with the band. It is evident here that with this album, the band was moving away from punk into more accessible alternative rock; this track received a lot of radio airplay.

# 2 – 21st Century Digital Boy

This track was initially recorded in 1990 for the band’s fifth album, Against the Grain, and was then re-recorded for Stranger than Fiction. This is the version that I am putting at number 2 on this list, as unlike the original, it was released as a single and was a big hit for the band. The reason for the re-recording is that Atlantic wanted a single and felt that this song would make a good choice.

# 1 – American Jesus

At the number one spot on our list of top 10 Bad Religion songs is the first single from the band’s 1993 album Recipe for Hate. Like Watch It Die, it also features Eddie Vedder on backing vocals. One of the band’s political numbers addresses that then-President George Bush Sr proclaimed that America would win the first Gulf War because “god was on their side.” Surprisingly, it did not manage to chart despite the video receiving airplay on MTV.

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