Dave Grohl’s healthy balance between his quiet-to-loud vocal yowls never appear overplayed, and his excellent command of the guitar showed his range as the guy who was, up until that point, known as “the drummer from Nirvana.” In 1994, Grohl went into the studio to record what would be known as the Foo Fighters’ debut album; he played all of the instruments on the record, and by 1995, he’d get a record deal with Capitol Records. Germs guitarist Pat Smear, who was already the fifth member of Nirvana, soon joined the Foo’s. From there, they’d thereafter go through a few lineup changes before permanently enlisting bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins, and lead guitarist Chris Shiflett.
After eight records, millions of sales, critical praise, and undeniable respect in the music industry, it’s no wonder why the Foo’s still sell out stadiums and put out tasty music more than twenty years later. Dave Grohl has certainly proved why he’s the coolest and most beloved rock star of his generation, and he still continues to do things that make us adore him even more. So for our list, we’ll be pulling Foo Fighters songs from each of their albums that show a glimpse into why the Foo Fighter’s are a band not to mess with.
There Is Nothing Left to Lose, their third studio album, not only showcased the genesis of their new drummer Taylor Hawkins, but it also shined a light on a new direction for the Foo Fighters. They ditched their post-grunge ferocity for a more melodic essence, and Aurora is a glistening example. It’s got a soft and sweet progression to it, with just the right texture of amplification to turn this song into the perfect open road anthem. It’s also the perfect song to open up our Top 10 Foo Fighters Songs List.
Their self-titled debut was the kind of record the world of rock needed after the very band that was the voice of their eon was laid to rest, along with their spokesman, Kurt Cobain. As the title suggests, this really is an exhausting Foo Fighters songs. It’s loud, it’s rude, it’s nauseating, but it has heart within its context. It’s got a real “Nirvana” swagger to it without riding on its coattails. Grohl’s drumming really makes this song, too.
8.) New Way Home
This was the song to close out their great sophomore effort, The Colour And The Shape, and it’s everything you’d come to expect from the catalog of Foo Fighters songs. It glides through a wave of different dynamics that came to define the band. It kicks off the opening with a blistering riff that wears Grohl’s shoe-gazing vocals with style, but not until it turns everything down a notch halfway through with a quiet intensity, before exploding into a hopeful finale.
7.) Dear Rosemary
When the Foo Fighters recorded their seventh record, Wasting Light, they wanted to go back to the rudimentary basics that made their previous work raw to the bone. So they cut the album in Grohl’s garage using only analog equipment, with Butch Vig serving as producer; he produced Nirvana’s Nevermind, among other things. Dear Rosemary is one of their most craziest yet masterfully composed numbers that shows a darker side to the Foo’s. Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü also makes a guest appearance on the song.
6.) Skin and Bones
This song was released as a B-side for their hit single DOA, and later appeared on their EP, Five Songs and a Cover. A stripped down, acoustic version subsequently made its way into the set list of their live album of the same name; Skin and Bones is on here because of that version. It’s a beautiful bundle of harmony with very poignant lyrics that are every bit as depressing as they are stimulating.
5.) On The Mend
In Your Honor, released in 2005, was something of an unexpected work of art for the band, because it was their double album. It was in the same vein as Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home in that one side of the record was nothing but electric arrangements, while the other side was comprised of acoustic numbers; On The Mend is of the latter side, and it’s absolutely stunning. Definitely one of the Foo Fighters most capturing songs.
4.) I Am A River
Sonic Highways is probably their most original record to date, and one of their best, because they took this great concept and turned it into a history lesson for music. Dave Grohl produced this great miniseries on HBO a few years back titled Sonic Highways, where him and the band toured different cities across the United States that were home to some of the most monumental recording studios; they interviewed a wide variety of musicians from their collective home states who pioneered the particular genre that area was known for. Everywhere from Seattle, Nashville, Austin, all the way to Chicago, New Orleans, D.C., L.A., and New York; an amazing documentary on the history of music if you haven’t watched it. I Am A River is an emotional epic that cleanses the soul with a shower of that organic Foo Fighters rain.
3.) Let It Die
This one is, hands down, one of their most badass tunes; it’s like two polar opposite songs conjoined to the hip. It was only released as a promotional single, but it has every component to make it a commercial success. The first half starts out in a Stairway to Heaven fashion, building up its moving chord changes into a volcanic climax of distorted madness. This is the Foo Fighters we know and love.
Everlong harbored a sound that came to silhouette a shift in the mid-nineties; music was moving forward for the bands of that time who realized they weren’t going anywhere if they didn’t switch their style up. There’s a certain nostalgia to a song like this, and it’s also one of Grohl’s most personal compositions because it was written about the break-up of his first marriage. It’s also worth noting that Everlong is David Letterman’s favorite song; the Foo Fighters performed it at the end of the final Late Show episode.
1.) Best of You
After much consideration, it wasn’t a very daunting task choosing Best of You for the number one spot on our Top 10 Foo Fighters songs list. “Best of You,” is one of the best songs of the 2000’s and certainly the golden child of the Foo Fighters catalog. It’s riveting, powerful, and oh so inspiring; a song about overcoming the obstacles that try to bring a person down. Grohl has stated that he got the inspiration behind Best of You after being on presidential candidate John Kerry’s campaign trail. It’s a song that equates to their legacy as a bona-fide arena band, and it’s definitely their live performance of the song that puts them in a category all the own when it comes to retaining a spiritual connection with their fans. For further proof, check out their 2008 Wembley Stadium performance; that’s a band feeding off of the emotional unity of the crowd singing the words right back to them.
Updated Nov 9, 2020