Our top 10 Krokus songs list digs deep into the music of one of the most successful Swiss hard rock/heavy metal bands of all time. The band started out in 1975 with its formation spearheaded by former guitarist Tommy Kiefer and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Chris von Rohr. Initially, the band went progressive rock with a few elements of hard rock. However, the band explored a ‘harder’ sound replacing its progressive rock sound with heavy metal influences. The musical direction change was highly motivated by AC/DC, one of the outfits Krokus members followed closely. Krokus’ amalgam of hard rock and heavy metal sounds influences catapulted the band to mainstream and commercial success.
Specifically, the ‘80s were Krokus’ prime years marked by the band’s mesmerizing hard rock/heavy metal ballads. The band put the land of cheese, Switzerland, on the European metal scene while achieving success in the US. However, the global success of the band was interrupted by creative burnout, drug abuse, and divisive management. Almost five decades since the band was established, we can barely move on from the candid blend of hard rock and heavy metal sounds by Krokus.
Krokus’ Career Beginnings
After its inception in 1975, the band went on to issue its eponymous debut studio album in 1976. Eponymous albums are more likely to be emblematic of an artist’s/band’s musical direction. However, this is not the case with Krokus. The band’s debut, sophomore album (To You All), and third LP (Pain Killer) revealed little to no distinct musical direction. The three LPs saw the band take on a blend of progressive rock, hard rock, and boogie rock. This blend was quite tasteless, arousing no major interest towards the band.
Krokus’ Breakthrough and Albums
Inspired by the success of AC/DC, Krokus sought to explore a blend of hard rock/heavy metal, which seemed quite promising. However, this only meant that the band had to settle for a new lead vocalist with greater vocal adroitness in much ‘heavy’ music influences. The band’s perfect choice for its new musical direction was Marc Storace, a former member of the Swiss heavy rock outfit TEA.
Krokus went on to issue its fourth studio album, Metal Rendez-vous on June 1980. While Metal Rendez-vous never made it to the charts, it remains Krokus’ most definitive album featuring the band’s hard rock/heavy metal signature sound. On this album, Marc Storace takes the lead vocals with the rest of the band members including its former lead singer Chris singing backing vocals. Metal Rendez-vous marked the band’s first commercially successful LP, earning Platinum certification four times in Switzerland. “Heatstrokes,” “Bedside Radio,” and “Tokyo Nights” are the best Krokus songs from the album.
Hardware, issued in February 1981, marked the band’s fifth outing. The album was the first release by the band to make it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and three. Hardware also made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number forty-four. While the album was a mainstream success, it failed to match the achievements made by the album Metal Rendez-vous.
“Winning Man” and “Burning Bones” are the two songs from Hardware that made it to the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. The album is also home to compelling heavy metal tracks “Rock City” and “Smelly Nelly.” Hardware was fairly commercially successful in Switzerland where was Gold certified.
In 1982, the band issued its sixth studio album, One Vice at a Time. One Vice at a Time was issued through Arista Records with its production work handled by Tony Platt. Producer Tony is best known for his successful work with AC/DC, Foreigner, Lillian Axe, Buddy Guy, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. This Gold-certified album performed even better than Hardware on the charts, rising to position twenty-eight and fifty-three on the UK Albums Chart and Billboard 200 respectively. “Long Stick Goes Boom,” “Bad Boys Rag Dolls,” and a cover of The Guess Who’s hit “American Woman” are the best Krokus songs from One Vice at a Time.
Headhunter, issued in 1983, marked the band’s seventh studio album. The album is the band’s highest-charting release on the Billboard 200, rising to a peak position of number twenty-five. Headhunter also made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number seventy-four. The album became Krokus’ first album to achieve Gold certification by RIAA, marking the band’s growing influence in the US.
“Screaming in the Night,” “Eat the Rich,” and a cover of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit “Stayed Awake All Night” are the most popular songs by Krokus from Headhunter. The album’s production work was handled by Tom Allom. Producer Tom is known for his impactful work with other distinguished artists including Def Leppard, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath.
In 1984, Krokus issued its eighth studio album, The Blitz. The Blitz made it to number thirty-one on the Billboard 200. The album was a commercial success earning Gold certification in the US. “Midnite Maniac,” “Our Love,” and a cover of The Sweet’s hit “Ballroom Blitz” are the best Krokus songs from the album. The album also featured the hit “Boys Nite Out,” a song penned by a song penned Bryan Adams and former Prism drummer Jim Vallance.
Change of Address, issued in 1986, is the band’s ninth studio album.
While the album made it to the forty-fifth spot on the Billboard 200, it received heavy criticism owing to the band’s diminishing creativity. Nevertheless, Change of Address managed to feature musical gems by Krokus including “Say Goodbye,” “Let This Love Begin,” and a cover of Alice Cooper’s hit “School’s Out.” Change of Address was recorded without the presence of the band’s co-founder Chris von Rohr.
Heart Attack, Krokus’ tenth studio album, saw Chris return to the band’s lineup. The album was fairly successful in the US, rising to number eighty-seven on the Billboard 200. This is the band’s last-charting album on the Billboard 200. “Wild Love” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Tonight” are the most popular songs from Heart Attack.
Unfortunately, the band’s star dimmed in the ‘90s despite efforts with the albums Stampede, To Rock or Not to Be, and Round 13. However, the band managed to rekindle its successful ways, with its last five albums. The band’s 2003 LP Rock the Block topped the Swiss Albums Chart, earning Gold certification in Switzerland. All the other four albums have topped the Swiss Albums Chart, except the Gold-certified album, Hellraiser which settled for the second spot. The band’s most recent album Big Rocks has seen the band release covers of songs by reputable artists including The Spencer Davis Group, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Who, and Black Sabbath among others.
With over fifteen million records sold globally, Krokus is one of the most successful Swiss outfits of all time. The band made history by becoming an international sensation despite emerging from a nation with no rich history of heavy metal/hard rock influences. Krokus’ hit “Midnite Maniac” saw the band become the first Swiss outfit to have a song rise to the Billboard Hot 100. Here we present the ten best Krokus songs of all time.
#10- Bedside Radio
Ushering us to the top 10 Krokus songs list is the raving hit “Bedside Radio.” The song is among the band’s definitive hard rock/heavy metal hits featured on the album, Metal Rendez-vous. As earlier claimed, Krokus’ blend of hard rock and heavy metal sound on this album was majorly influenced by the success of the Australian mega act AC/DC. Marc Storace’s vocals on this record are also evocative of former AC/DC lead vocalist Bon Scott who passed on in 1980.
The energy exuded on this song was enough to crown Krokus the Swiss AC/DC. “Bedside Radio” went on to become Krokus’ first song to make it to the Swiss Singles Chart, peaking at number fifty-eight. The song would later be covered in 2015 by a Swiss rockabilly band going by the moniker Fishnet Stockings.
#9- Ballroom Blitz
Krokus has quite a huge catalog of original songs that we can feature on this list. However, we can’t seem to move on from the fact Krokus released magical cover hits, especially in the ‘80s. We saw the band’s 1982 cover of The Guess Who’s hit “American Woman” rise into the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart peaking at number fifty-three. Krokus achieved even greater status with its 1986 cover of Alice Cooper’s hit “School’s Out.”
However, the only cover song to make it to our ten best Krokus songs list is the impeccable hit “Ballroom Blitz.” The song was initially issued in 1973 by the UK glam rock outfit The Sweet. Krokus’ cover never made it to the charts but its masterclass delivery lingers in the minds of many metalheads who discovered this Swiss band in the ‘80s. Other outstanding covers of this hit have been released by The Struts, The Offspring, The Damned, and Billy Holiday.
The original version of “Ballroom Blitz” was also sampled in the hits “Hey Ladies” by The Beastie Boys, “Vampire Money” by My Chemical Romance, and “Shame on Me” by Avicii. However, you also need to check on Krokus’ 2017 cover of Neil Young’s song “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Krokus’ version of this song is among the most popular hits by the band issued in the 2010s.
#8- Hallelujah Rock ‘n’ Roll
Coming in at number eight on our ten best Krokus songs list is the tremendous hit “Hallelujah Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The song is a stellar cut off the band’s seventeenth studio album, Dirty Dynamite. “Hallelujah Rock ‘n’ Roll” adds to the catalog of songs from the 2010s that pushed Krokus to newfound success in the 2010s.
This melodic hard rock ballad showcases to rock ‘n’ roll fans Marc Storace’s vocal adroitness. His strained tenor vocals are evocative of AC/DC’s former lead vocalist Bon Scott. “Hallelujah Rock ‘n’ Roll” was among the best Krokus songs featured on the band’s live album, Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust.
#7- Tokyo Nights
“Tokyo Nights” is one of the band’s most revered songs of all time. Together with the singles “Bedside Radio” and “Heatstrokes”, the song remains the most definitive record off the band’s first commercially successful LP, Metal Rendez-vous. This outstanding hit features reggae rhythms about halfway after its intro. Of course, the reggae tune on this track might have come as a surprise to some hard rockers. However, the move just elucidates the band’s ability to incorporate some melodic feel to its hard rock/heavy metal songs.
Marc Storace solidifies his position as the pillar on which the band built its success and legacy in the signature hard rock/heavy metal sound. His enchanting vocal delivery pushes this record to legendary status. “Tokyo Nights” features one of the most memorable guitar riffs by the late Tommy Kiefer.
#6- Rock City
Number six on our ten best Krokus songs list is the headbanging hit “Rock City.” The song is among the top hits featured on the band’s fifth studio album, Hardware. Hardware featured a number of headbangers with some of the most successful tracks in the mainstream charts including “Burning Bones” and “Winning Man.”
However, “Rock City” manages to steal the show, thanks to its fist-pounding heaviness. This is despite the song not making it to the mainstream charts. The song’s rock-solid and bombastic feel is brought to perfection by the raw vocal delivery by Marc Storace. Another cut off the album Hardware that brings almost similar kind of heaviness is the hit “Easy Rocker.”
#5- Hoodoo Woman
2010 was a fairly successful year for Krokus, thanks to the album, Hoodoo. While it failed to make it to the Billboard 200, Hoodoo was critically acclaimed in Europe, bringing Krokus back to commercial success in Switzerland. “Hoodoo Woman” is a lyrical gem that finds the band putting its best foot forward after quite some passive or rather “less creative” records. Together with the band’s superlative cover of Steppenwolf’s hit “Born to Be Wild,” “Hoodoo Woman” guided the album Hoodoo into critical acclaim. “Hoodoo Woman” peaked at the nineteenth spot on the Swiss Singles Chart. The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 2010 horror film Saw 3D.
If we went on a mission to seek the band’s true genesis of success in the hard rock/heavy metal scene, it is most likely that the hit “Heatstrokes” would be the meeting point for most metalheads and fans of the band. “Heatstrokes” is a stunning hard-hitting ballad off the band’s fourth and most definitive album Metal Rendez-vous.
The song is among the earliest releases that served as a turning point for Krokus. Once again Marc Storace’s tonalities on this hit are evocative of AC/DC’s former lead vocalist Ben Scott. Marc almost feels like the reincarnation of Ben Scott showing the band’s strong inspiration from AC/DC. “Heatstrokes” peaked atop the British Heavy Metal Charts. The song paved the way for other hard-hitting yet luscious ballads by Krokus such as “Fire,” “Bedside Radio,” and “Tokyo Nights.”
#3- Long Stick Goes Boom
By now, mentioning that Krokus was like a Swiss shadow of the act AC/DC might feel like a cliché. However, there is no way that we can run away from this fact especially after listening to the hit “Long Stick Goes Boom.” Everything about this hit tells of AC/DC’s influence on this Swiss hard rock/heavy metal band — from Bon Scott-Esque vocals by Marc and the song’s hook/riff sample from AC/DC’s 1979 hit “Love Hungry Man.”
The song’s lyrical content, allusive of some intimate intentions, isn’t the major catch here. It is the simplistic yet infectious and enjoyable hook that draws our attention to this classic hard rock/heavy metal ballad. “Long Stick Goes Boom” was a mainstream success, peaking at number twenty-two on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. The song is the best cut off the band’s album, One Vice at a Time.
#2- Midnite Maniac
The Blitz, the band’s eighth studio album, is home to the second pick on our ten best Krokus songs, “Midnite Maniac.” A closer look at the album tells more of the band’s potential to give its audience rip-roaring power ballads. We can see songs like “Our Love” and “Boys Nite Out” come out strong as outstanding and hard-hitting power ballads. However, “Midnite Maniac” soars even higher than all these hits, claiming its spot as the album’s most revered track.
This outstanding album opener kicks off with some big energy that makes it a perennial classic rock ballad. “Midnite Maniac” went on to shatter mainstream feats achieved by previous Krokus hits by becoming the band’s first song to grace the Billboard Hot 100. Krokus’ cover of Alice Cooper’s hit “School’s Out” is the only song to have surpassed the mainstream feat achieved by “Midnite Maniac.” This cover hit peaked at number sixty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100.
#1 – Screaming in the Night
Number one on our top 10 Krokus songs list is the imperative hit “Screaming in the Night.” After its release on the band’s album Headhunter, it rose imminently to become the band’s signature hit. Unlike most AC/DC-Esque hits by the band, “Screaming in the Night” boasts of originality. Marc Storace is at the peak of his vocal range on this hit. However, some critics went on to classify his vocals as the borderline between Bon Scott and Accept’s singer Udo Dirkschneider’s delivery.
“Screaming in the Night” went on to become a mainstream success, peaking at number twenty-one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. The song’s accompanying music video received heavy airplay on MTV back in the ‘80s. “Screaming in the Night” has its glory live on with the song being among the most played Krokus songs to date.
Feature Photo: Krokus, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Krokus Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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