Foo Fighters' 20 Best Songs Ranked

A look back at the band's most iconic tracks ahead of their 11th album, 'But Here We Are'

Photo: Kamara Morozuk

BY Dave MacIntyrePublished May 30, 2023

In a pop music climate that has become less and less accommodating to straight-up rock bands, Foo Fighters have stood tall through all of it. 

Formed out of the ashes of Dave Grohl's previous band Nirvana's dissolution, the band and their bevy of anthemic, hook-driven rock songs have resonated with millions of fans across the globe. The result? A spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 15 Grammy wins, and eight albums that have gone platinum in Canada. Needless to say, Grohl's decision to step out from behind the drum kit and be the frontman has paid off.

The road to colossal mainstream popularity the world over hasn't always been easy for the band, and especially not recently. Longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins's sudden and tragic death hours before a festival gig in Colombia in March of last year sent shockwaves throughout the music world, and especially within the band itself. Nonetheless, Foo Fighters are soldiering on, and their 11th studio album (their first since Hawkins's death), But Here We Are, is scheduled to drop June 2. 

Ahead of its release, we're taking a look back on the career of one of the biggest bands of the past 30 years by ranking their 20 best tunes. Here's our rundown of the greatest songs Foo Fighters have ever put to tape.

20. "Miracle"
In Your Honor (2005)

Foo Fighters can do earnest, heartfelt acoustic ballads as powerfully as they do hard rocking anthems, and "Miracle" stands as proof of that. Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones plays piano on the track, and the feel of Zeppelin's softer tunes can be heard here a bit, helping unlock a softer side of Grohl that defined the acoustic-driven second disc of In Your Honor.

19. "Rope"
Wasting Light (2011)

It's not often we hear Dave Grohl sing primarily in his lower register, but he made it count here on Wasting Light's lead single. This immediately gets counterbalanced by the primal screams he lets out in the pre-chorus, but the track is all-in-all a potent, daring and dynamic track — one made entirely with analogue equipment.

18. "February Stars"
The Colour and the Shape (1997)

Spending its first half as a decidedly mellow and cashmere-soft tune with only an electric guitar as its instrumental centrepiece, "February Stars" is a five-minute ballad that gradually builds up tension before going full-on rock. It's a gorgeous, glittering and fittingly space-like tune, and it captures a more atmospheric mood one wishes Grohl would tap into more often.

17. "Low"
One by One (2002)

Sonically not that much different than what was being made at the time by Grohl's then-frequent collaborators Queens of the Stone Age, "Low" is one of the rawer and feistier cuts on both One by One and in the Foos' discography in general. The Jack Black cameo in its video is pretty great, too.

16. "Run"
Concrete and Gold (2017)

One of their more recent (and rhythmically distinctive) singles, "Run" is a propulsive and hard-hitting track that challenges both Grohl's screaming capacity and fans' expectations to incredibly satisfying effect. The hilarious clip with the members as senior citizens in a nursing home stands in stark contrast to the song, but it's fantastic nonetheless.

15. "Walk"
Wasting Light (2011)

The closing track on Wasting Light is also one of the band's strongest examples of combining driving, crunching rhythms with memorable pop hooks. Aided by a music video recalling the 1993 Michael Douglas-starring film Falling Down, the song's origin story comes from Grohl teaching his oldest daughter how to walk, and ended in it becoming an absolute force on alternative rock radio.

14. "All My Life"
One by One (2002)

Coming in like a freight train at a time where nu metal was being killed by the wave of garage rock "The" bands, "All My Life" is one of the band's most aggressive, defiant anthems in a career full of them. The track signalled Grohl and co. going all in as a straight-up hard rock band, and shows them grabbing that role by the horns.

13. "I'll Stick Around"
Foo Fighters (1995)

A defiant, high-energy "fuck you" to Courtney Love, "I'll Stick Around" is one of the saltiest and grittiest tunes the Foo Fighters have ever released as a single. Described by Grohl as being about feeling "violated or deprived," he's even confirmed himself that it's about Kurt Cobain's widow, with whom he'd had plenty of beef with over the years.

12. "Breakout"
There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999)

Though some may remember it from its appearance on the soundtrack to the early aughts Jim Carrey comedy Me, Myself & Irene, "Breakout" also remains one of the Foo Fighters' most rip-roaring and flat-out fun tunes. Grohl essentially uses pimples as a metaphor for people who stress him out or piss him off, and the results are far better than you'd imagine.

11. "Exhausted"
Foo Fighters (1995)

One of the rawest and most distortion-heavy tunes in the Foos' catalogue, "Exhausted" is their self-titled debut's closing number, and the promo single that started it all for the band and for Grohl's post-Nirvana career. It's also one of their tunes that sounds most akin to bands from the past (think Dinosaur Jr or Yo La Tengo), and it's easily one of their noisier and grittier ones.

10. "The Pretender"
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)

One of only three Foo Fighters songs to ever crack the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite the band's immense commercial success, "The Pretender" is also one of their most cathartic and anthemic tunes. Between its quiet-loud intro (the clean guitar immediately recalls "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Stairway to Heaven"), explosive instrumentation and familiar lyrical themes of resilience, resistance and "never surrendering," it's no wonder why the band frequently open their shows with it.

9. "Big Me"
Foo Fighters (1995)

While it doesn't sound a whole lot like the music they'd later be best known for, "Big Me" is an early example of the Foo Fighters showing their softer, sweeter side in a song that melodically goes toe to toe with just about anything else in their discography. Its video, a parody of Mentos commercials, remains arguably the band's funniest clip — one that led to fans actually throwing Mentos at the band during shows, much to Grohl's annoyance.

8. "Learn to Fly"
There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999)

Dave Grohl has always been very adept at writing straightforward, no-bullshit pop melodies, and "Learn to Fly" is one of the strongest ones he's ever written — even though he's said it's one of that album's cuts he enjoys the least. Above all, the band's first Top 40 hit manages to find a comfortable balance between being accessible to mass audiences and having a typical '90s alt-rock edge. Of course, there's also that music video, with Dave on a plane in drag and Tenacious D making cameos as janitors.

7. "Best of You"
In Your Honor (2005)

Whenever Prince covered your song (and especially when he did it during the most kickass Super Bowl halftime show to date), there was no higher compliment for a musician. "Best of You" got that honour, and in retrospect, it's not that hard to see why. From "I'VE GOT ANOTHER CONFESSION TO MAKE" onward, the song — written after the band worked alongside then-presidential candidate John Kerry — is pure adrenaline and musical firepower, from Grohl's guttural screaming to its high-flying instrumentation.

6. "This Is a Call"
Foo Fighters (1995)

The song that seems to have predicted the Foo Fighters' ascendance to arena rock superstardom is also their debut album's opening track and perfect tone-setter. Pretty much everything that defines the band — minus its bizarre lyrical references to fingernails, cysts and mollusks — is on display during "This Is a Call," from its pounding drums to its grungy chords and the resolute nature of Grohl's vocal delivery. Speaking of Grohl, he just so happened to play all those parts himself.

5. "Monkey Wrench"
The Colour and the Shape (1997)

Its driving rhythm, chugging guitars and rapturous vocal performance are quintessential Foo Fighters, and "Monkey Wrench" is a masterclass in how to make a song about a crumbling marriage — in drop-D tuning, no less — sound catchy and rock extremely hard. The first single from the band's sophomore album is also one of the band's rawest and most punk-inflected hits, and one that helped set the stage for the Foos to become one of the most arena-ready rock acts on the planet.

4. "Aurora"
There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999)

Perhaps one of the band's most under-appreciated anthems, "Aurora" is also the most shining example of how the Foo Fighters can make a tune that hits listeners in all the right places while turning their usual bombast and urgency levels way down. It's more atmospheric and introspective than we're used to hearing from the band, and the track uses that dynamic to its full advantage. It's arguably the most gorgeous and understatedly emotional six minutes in their catalogue.

3. "Times Like These"
One by One (2002)

Sometimes the best songs can come out of feelings of precariousness and anxiety, and "Times Like These" was certainly one of those songs for the Foo Fighters. Its lyrical themes of love, resilience, hope, and tenacity in the face of life's challenges will always resonate with the hoi polloi, and the conviction in the instrumentation and in Grohl's voice sell it better than many other bands could. Frequently used in movies and sporting events (both in its original and acoustic forms), and covered by artists like Florence + the Machine and late country legend Glen Campbell, "Times Like These" remains one of the Foos' most lasting and emotionally stirring hits. Not bad for a song Grohl wrote on a napkin.

2. "My Hero"
The Colour and the Shape (1997)

Whenever you try looking for a song that best exemplifies the Foo Fighters' innate ability to craft a powerful rock anthem, you could do far worse than "My Hero." A song dedicated to the good deeds of ordinary people — though it's been misinterpreted as being about Kurt Cobain — sounds like it could be about the most important person in the world, and Grohl's roaring, urgent drumming is its perfect engine. The song's sheer emotional heft is such that, when the late Taylor Hawkins' teenage son Shane played "My Hero" on drums during the band's tribute concert to his dad in London, his performance behind the kit went viral.

1. "Everlong"
The Colour and the Shape (1997)

A song that starts off quiet and unassuming before gradually and ferociously building up tension (just like Grohl's previous band did so incredibly well), there's good reason why "Everlong" remains the crown jewel of Foo Fighters' discography. Made while crashing on a sleeping bag at a pal's house as he was going through a divorce (and while two Foo Fighters members were about to leave the band), Grohl decided to write a tune based on his then-romance with Veruca Salt member Louise Post. 

Penned within 45 minutes, "Everlong" is a blistering, rousing alt-rock anthem that captures feelings of intense longing, romantic connection, emotional pain and lovestruck euphoria in a bottle — all while its author was broke and grieving lost love of his own. David Letterman considers it his all-time favourite song, and Bob Dylan even expressed his desire to cover it. It's become one of the '90s most indelible and enduring alternative rock hits for a damn good reason, and it's hard not to feel a whole range of emotions whenever you hear it. In a bittersweet way, it's fitting that it was also the final song Taylor Hawkins played live with the band before his passing.

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