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2011's Best Rock Songs

The Top Rock Tracks of 2011


In 2011, great rock songs came from everywhere. Whether it was metal or modern rock, country or alternative, a good tune was a good tune -- period. Hopefully some of your favorites made my list -- and, even better, maybe I can help turn you on to some songs you missed.

25. Lou Reed and Metallica - "Dragon"

Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
No 2011 album was more divisive than Lulu, the unlikely pairing of Metallica and Lou Reed. Its boldest moment comes in the form of the 11-minute "Dragon," in which the ferocious riffs fly in every direction while Reed tells off a lover in angry, violent terms. For people who loved the guitar fury of Reed's "The Blue Mask," you need to check this out.

24. Arctic Monkeys - "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair"

arctic monkeys don't sit down i moved your chair
Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images.
Not just a great title but a great song, "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" nicely captures an anxious, wary vibe. Arctic Monkeys main man Alex Turner details all the ways we take risks -- whether it's dancing to "The Macarena" in public or getting involved with the wrong people -- and the track does a terrific job of making you feel ill-at-east from the start.

23. Rev Theory - "Justice"

rev theory justice
Photo courtesy SKH Music.

Rev Theory specialize in high-octane rock tunes, and "Justice" is very much meant to get your blood pumping. Rich Luzzi bellows his vindictive, taunting lyrics while the guitars slash and burn behind him.

22. Alter Bridge - "Ghost of Days Gone By"

alter bridge ghost of days gone by
Photo courtesy Total Assault.

Alter Bridge encourage the listener not to look back on "Ghost of Days Gone By," a soaring song that mixes melancholy with determination. Singer Myles Kennedy understands that it's hard not to regret the past, but "Ghost" is about trying to focus on the future and the possibilities of what could be.

21. Chevelle - "Face to the Floor"

chevelle face to the floor
Photo courtesy MSO.
"Face to the Floor" proves that even after all this time Chevelle are some angry little punks. Frontman Pete Loeffler spews his nasty lyrics more than he sings them, and his bandmates just lock into the groove until there's no one left standing.

20. Incubus - "Adolescents"

incubus adolescents
Photo courtesy Epic.

Incubus get moody on "Adolescents," a shimmering mid-tempo song about feeling emotionally lost at sea. Frontman Brandon Boyd can't quite pinpoint what's wrong, but he knows something's not right, and the song's shifting groove adeptly reflects the singer's uncertainty.

19. Linkin Park - "Iridescent"

linkin park iridescent
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
The latest Transformers movie was pretty terrible, but this Linkin Park single from the film more than compensated. On "Iridescent," the sextet go for a sweeping anthem that feels like Coldplay but with a lot more edge to it.

18. Beady Eye - "The Roller"

beady eye the roller
Photo courtesy Permanent Press.

Nobody was surprised that Beady Eye, the new band from Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, would sound a lot like his old group. But probably what was a surprise was how enjoyable the group's first record, Different Gear, Still Speeding, turned out to be. "The Roller" finds Beady Eye diving deep into Liam's Beatles obsession with very pleasing results.

17. R.E.M. - "Mine Smell Like Honey"

rem mine smell like honey
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.

R.E.M.'s latest disc, Collapse Into Now, is a more stylistically diverse record than 2008's Accelerate, and "Mine Smell Like Honey" recalls the jangly guitar rock of the band's '80s efforts while embracing the pop accessibility of their '90s Warner Bros. albums. And as with the band's best songs, it's highlighted by great background vocals from bassist Mike Mills.

16. Mastodon - "Curl of the Burl"

mastodon curl of the burl
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
If Mastodon aren't careful, the acclaimed metal band may eventually become mainstream faves. With "Curl of the Burl," they stumble into an incredibly catchy melody upon which they attach their dependably headbanging riffs and gnarly energy. Mastodon are on metal's cutting edge, but they're also figuring out how to be accessible without sacrificing a lick of their intensity.
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