Formed in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris, the band went through several lineup changes before releasing their self-titled debut in 1980. Their discography contains thirty-eight albums in total, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four Eps, and seven compilation albums.
Originating from the New Wave of the British Heavy Metal movement, Iron Maiden was one of the most successful rock bands of the 1980s. After Bruce Dickinson replaced Paul Di’anno on vocals in 1982, they released a string of multi-platinum selling albums which to this day are considered classics of the metal genre such as 1982’s The Number of the Beast, 1983’s Piece of Mind, 1984’s Powerslave and 1986’s Somewhere in Time.
They experienced something of a decline in the 1990’s when Dickinson left and was replaced by Blaze Bayley. Bayley was not a terrible vocalist, but Dickinson’s boots were ultimately to big for him to fill, with the two albums he recorded with them being considered by most to be their worst. Thankfully, after he left in 1999, Dickinson decided to come back and they have experienced a second wave of popularity ever since, with their most recent offerings such as “The Final Frontier” reaching number 1 in 28 countries and being very well received by critics. The Book Of Souls achieved similar success.
Despite being largely ignored by mainstream radio and television, they are one the all-time most successful heavy metal bands, having sold over 100 million albums worldwide. In addition to this, they have reportedly played over 2000 live shows over their four decade career. Here is a list of 10 of their songs that show what makes Iron Maiden so special to their adoring and extremely loyal fan base:
# 10 – These Colours Don’t Run
The second track of 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death is without a doubt one of the most poignant Maiden songs of the post-millennial era. Seen by some as a song promoting nationalistic flag waving, the point of view that the song takes is not so one-sided. The song deals with the idea of soldiers being sent to war and is not openly pro or anti-war with the position it takes. The song’s title means that whatever you think of what the military are doing, they are just doing their job, which can refer to any war across modern history. The opening riff shows Iron Maiden at their melodic best starting off quietly with the guitar riff and the rest of the of the group quickly kicking into action, the highlight though is undoubtedly Dickinson’s “whoa” chant before the epic chorus is performed for the final time.
# 9 – The Wicker Man
The lead single from Dickinson’s comeback album, 2000’s Brave New World it opened the album making it his official reintroduction to the band. Inspired by the cult horror film of the same name, it is classic maiden through and through. The return of Dickinson’s voice brought back the epicness that the band was known for, which was lacking on the Bayley-era albums.
# 8 – Wrathchild
One of the best-known songs from the Di’anno era, “Wratchchild” from 1981’s “Killers” is one of Di’annos finest moments. It has that feel of the band in their early days slogging about in clubs and pubs in the London Scene, thanks to his gritty and punky style-even if the band claimed to hate punk!
# 7 – Man On The Edge
The Bayley era may not be the best, but it was not without its moments. Lyrically inspired by the film “Falling Down”, it deals with the subject of mental illness and having a nervous breakdown. Despite this subject matter, it is a rather upbeat sounding tack, with an energetic sounding tempo, and a strong performance from the riff section. Taken from Bayley’s first album with the band, 1995’s “The X Factor”, it stands out as one of its highlights.
# 6 – No Prayer For The Dying
The title track from the first Iron Maiden album of the 90s, specifically 1990, this track shows that Iron Maiden can do emotive ballads very well. The song has a slow pace most of the way through, not exploding until towards the end. Lyrically, the song deals with feeling lost in life, with certain lines hinting at a slight criticism of religious faith.
# 5 – Running Free
The best-known single entitled “Running Free,” from the self-titled debut, is perhaps Di’annos finest moment as an Iron Maiden vocalist. Still a fan favorite to this day, it is a true fist in the air song about teenage rebellion, with Di’annos edgier-sounding style suiting it more than Dickinson’s operatic style ever has.
# 4 – Fear Of The Dark
The title track from the final album of Dickinson’s first stint with the band was released in 1992. It featured Dickinson going out with a bang, as it has become one of Iron Maiden’s greatest songs. With its epic chorus, classic riff, and epic build-up, it is a song that is an absolute staple of the band’s live sets. Lyrically, the title speaks for itself, literally being about a man who is afraid of the dark.
# 3 – The Number Of The Beast
The title track of band’s third breakthrough album, and the one that caused much controversy upon its release with religious censorship activists. One of their most famous songs, they just have to play it live at every show. With its dark riff and Dickinson’s high-ranging vocals, it is a true milestone of traditional heavy metal.
# 2 – The Trooper
Another one of the band’s greatest hits was released on 1983’s Piece of Mind. With yet another of the all time classic metal riffs, lyrically it deals with what Iron Maiden does best which is simply charging into battle! Chronicling a battle that took place during the Crimean War, it was so good that years later they named their own beer after it.
# 1 – Run To The Hills
Perhaps an obvious choice, but it would seem wrong to have it any other way. It is probably the one Maiden song that people who have never heard any other Iron Maiden song have heard. Also from Number of the Beast, it was the band’s lead single of the album, charting at number 7. Another track that is almost the ultimate metal number, from its defiant intro, to when it kicks in and Dickinson starts chanting the lyrics which deal with the native Indians fighting the white man coming over to their homeland, it is a true battle cry and is Maidens number one track for a very good reason.
Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.