21 Best 2000s Rock Songs

Best 2000s Rock Songs

The turn of the millennia saw an explosion of classic, genre-defining releases. From the emo zeitgeists to songs you still hear every time you turn on the radio, these songs have stayed in pop culture without failure.

Our list isn’t in any particular order, with every song on here being a banger. If you’ve been looking for the best rock songs of the 2000s, we’re here to help! Here are the best 2000s rock songs!

“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World

Song Year: 2001

We all need a bit of encouragement sometimes, and Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” provided that encouragement to an entire generation. Ecstatic and uplifting from start to finish, the song pushes listeners to do their best and stop worrying about what people with bitter hearts think.

The song was allegedly written in response to a letter from a young fan. The fan asked for ways to fit in with the punk crowd and stop feeling like an outcast at school. In response, the song was written, encouraging them not to worry and to just give it time.

“Chop Suey” by System of a Down

Song Year: 2001

System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” is the hard rock anthem that’s helped to define the entire genre. While the band has since taken an indefinite hiatus, the 2000s were filled with non-stop hits from the politically-charged high-octane band.

“Chop Suey” feels somewhat nonsensical at times. With a quick verse and a soothing chorus, the song rips right back into screaming with a tempo change and guitar riffs that stay stuck in your head for days. Few songs have remained as immensely popular as “Chop Suey,” instantly recognizable even if someone reduces the lyrics to gibberish.

“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

Song Year: 2003

You can’t walk into any music shop without hearing someone playing the bass line from “Seven Nation Army.” On par with the near-omnipresence of “Smoke on the Water,” The White Stripes penned one of the most popular tracks of the century with “Seven Nation Army.”

The relatively-simple song is easy to learn and even easier to dance along to. Famous around the world, the song is especially prevalent in sports. Many teams have used the song as a theme, with fanbases commonly adapting the bass line to be a chant for the crowds. Even if you despise rock (for some reason), there’s no doubt that you’re familiar with this song.

“Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon

Song Year: 2008

Kings of Leon penned some of the most popular tracks across the decade, but we’ve narrowed it down to one of their most popular. “Sex on Fire” is more than an objectively-bad idea in this track. The raunchy song focuses entirely on losing yourself in a bout of all-consuming sex with your lover.

It seems that the raunchiness was just what people wanted to hear. As it catapulted to extreme popularity, “Sex on Fire” earned plenty of awards. The track earned multiple nominations, including Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. Additionally, the group won a Grammy in another category and the UK Festival Award for Anthem of the Summer.

“A Favor House Atlantic” by Coheed and Cambria

Song Year: 2003

The prog-rock band Coheed and Cambria has bridged themselves over dozens of genres. The punky “A Favor House Atlantic” has remained a favorite through all of the band’s releases. With an uplifting sound that hides a sinister double meaning in the band’s story, the song is easy to shout along to.

Still played in concert almost two decades later, the band has stood by the popularity of the track. Through the 2000s, you could hardly step into a venue without hearing the song. Placed on playlists, video games, trailers, and more, it remains one of the most popular songs of the 2000s.

“Float On” by Modest Mouse

Song Year: 2004

Songs are at their best when they remind you not to take life too seriously. Modest Mouse’s titanically popular “Float On” accomplishes that as much as any other song. One of the most instantly-recognizable tracks of the 2000s, “Float On” encourages listeners to continue when things get rough.

Through the song, the band lists off a few of the issues you’ll likely run into. Getting fired, getting into a car accident, receiving bad news, but none of it matters. Even when things end up in the rough, you’ll float on until things get better again.

“Yellow” by Coldplay

Song Year: 2000

Coldplay’s “Yellow” is the feel-good love song of the decade. Finding its way onto playlists of all sorts, the song and color were synonymous for quite some time. Taken from the band’s debut album, it cemented the band’s place in popular culture, where they remain to this day.

The track is a romantic, sweet letter to the narrator’s object of desire. Discussing the beauty of the stars, the narrator tells his lover that the stars only shine for them. As they rattle off the silly things they’ve done for each other, it’s hard to keep a tear from your eye while you sing along.

“Holiday” by Green Day

Song Year: 2004

Green Day has cemented itself as one of the most prolific names in alternative rock and pop-punk. Few tracks reach as high in popularity as “Holiday.” Whether you love it for the political message or just to shout along while you lean out of a car window, it’s tough to find anything to dislike about the track.

Written as a protest song, “Holiday” is one of the many anti-war and anti-government songs to come from the post-9/11 United States. Mentioning homophobia and the breaking of protests for profit, there was some level of controversy over the track. Becoming an anthem for punks across the nation, you can still find “Holiday” blasting on the radio – especially around protests.

“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance

Song Year: 2006

You can recognize the start of “Welcome to the Black Parade” from a single key in a piano. Few, if any, songs have reached this level of cultural saturation. “Welcome to the Black Parade” has undoubtedly become one of the most well-known and influential songs in rock and emo, sending waves throughout every other genre.

By the time The Black Parade was released, MCR was already massively popular, but nothing could compare to the level this album would reach. Often considered one of the greatest songs of the decade, the title track encapsulates the incredible album in every way.

“Kids” by MGMT

Song Year: 2007

MGMT’s electro-pop sound is integrated with rock elements to make a song that would quickly become one of the flagships of the decades. Many people recognize the song by the sound of children playing at the start, but if not, the leading keys are unmistakable. The song was especially popular in electronic music, where it was remixed into dozens of different tracks across genres.

The song focuses on childhood and the experience of growing up. Somewhat somber, the nostalgic hints of the track are hard not to get addicted to. Though there’s a bittersweetness to the lyrics, there’s something about the childlike wonder it inspires that makes you want to play the song again and again.

“Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Song Year: 1999

Few songs highlight California more than the ever-popular “Californication.” Contrasting much of the rest of their discography, the song is a quiet and dark critique of the more twisted side of Hollywood that much of the world doesn’t see. Though it was a 1999 release, the song would define the 2000s musically.

Throughout the track, the singer discusses the death of local models and the import of famous stars. Invoking Kurt Cobain, Star Wars, and more, the popular culture references help highlight the darker underbelly. Despite it all, everyone dreams of joining the lifestyle and engaging in “Californication.”

“Fat Lip” by Sum 41

Song Year: 2002

Sum 41’s music has always been the type you want to blast at a house party, but “Fat Lip” takes the cake. Full of teenage angst and teeming with mosh pit energy, “Fat Lip” is as shoutable of a song as you’ll find on this list.

Throughout the track, the narrators vow that they won’t let themselves become another casualty. Considering conformity to be a tragedy, the narrators refuse to back down from their lifestyle and “grow up,” as others have insisted. Through physical violence and non-conformity, the song earned its place among the 25 best tracks.

“Y Control” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Song Year: 2003

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs helped bring alternative rock to another level in the 2000s, bridging genres between electronic music and rock. Though they have dozens of songs that could fill this list, “Y Control” just had to be the best song to put here.

The song has a different vibe from much of the rest of the band’s discography. With a danceable beat, quiet vocals, and guitars that stay in your head for hours, few songs had this cultural prominence.

“Last Resort” by Papa Roach

Song Year: 2000

One of the more aggressive tracks on this list, “Last Resort” is a somber and angsty song. Easily Papa Roach’s most recognizable work, the band would ride this song’s popularity through the modern day.

The song pushes rock towards nu-metal without quite breaking into the next genre. With spoken-word lyrics and a quick breakdown, you’ll find few people that don’t know the words to this track.

“Crawling” by Linkin Park

Song Year: 2000

You simply can’t discuss the 2000s without mentioning Linkin Park. From a duo album with Jay Z to the most recognizable songs of the decade, Linkin Park was (and still is) one of the greatest bands of the decade.

“Crawling” is our pick for this list, with its shouted vocals and immediate slap of emotional angst. Focusing on anxiety, a lack of confidence, and trauma, the track explores the concept of trying to be something you aren’t. In a way, few songs encourage you to be yourself more than this raw and heartfelt cry against conformity.

“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet

Song Year: 2003

“Seven Nation Army” might have the most recognizable bass line, but the intro to “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” gives it a run for its money. Some people consider the band’s music to be “dad rock,” but that doesn’t make this instant classic any less amazing.

Throughout the track, the narrator tries to convince the object of his desire to leave her man and be with him. Highlighting her outfit and gorgeous hair, he asks her time and again if she’ll be with him instead.

“Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz

Song Year: 2005

The virtual band Gorillaz is no specific genre, with guest musicians appearing on more tracks than not. Though many consider “Feel Good Inc.” to be more in line with hip hop than rock, much of the fusion song fits more as alternative rock.

With the signature laugh and the high-pitched “feel good,” the song had the 2000s in a chokehold. Though Gorillaz has remained incredibly prolific in the years since, few tracks in their discography are as recognizable as this song.

“Mr. Brightside” by The Killers

Song Year: 2004

“Mr. Brightside” bridges fans of all genres. No matter what you listen to, you’ve undoubtedly heard this track because it’s played in public constantly.

The fast tempo of the song and the quick-moving lyrics give a feeling of anxiety that matches the lyrical content. While it isn’t exactly uplifting, the soaring vocals and growing instrumentation are hard not to go along with.

“Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand

Song Year: 2004

Franz Ferdinand’s guitars on “Take Me Out” are arguably the most recognizable on this list. Without hearing any other instruments, you’d know what song was being played within a single measure.

The Scottish band took home several awards for the song. Winning the Danish Music Award for International Hit of the Year, the song was a huge hit globally. It also earned MTV’s Video Music Award, the NME Award for Best Track, and the UK Festival Award for Anthem of the Summer. So, it’s a pretty popular song!

“Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence

Song Year: 2003

Unfortunately, much of the popularity of “Bring Me to Life” nowadays lies in memes. But when this track was released, Evanescence took control of the music scene for quite a while. The 2003 track earned multiple awards, including a Grammy and the Billboard Music Award for Soundtrack Single of the Year.

With a loud, aggressive chorus and quiet piano notes, the song’s recognizability is undeniable. While people may find the song meme-worthy, you can’t deny the incredible popularity and artistry.

“Road to Joy” by Bright Eyes

Song Year: 2005

Closing our list is the anti-war song “Road to Joy,” one of the many Bright Eyes tracks that filled the 2000s. Written in response to the war-ready culture of post-9/11 America, the narrator looks through a normal day and how the culture is affecting them.

Highlighting body counts in papers and substance abuse, the song uses the famous “Ode to Joy” as a musical motif. The narrator highlights some of the most important technological advances, including telephones, cameras, and machine guns, all of which had taken over culture by the time the song was written.

Top Rock Songs Of The 2000s, Final Thoughts

The 2000s were some of the most musically diverse years in recent history. Forging some of the most prominent bands and recognizable tracks, there’s a high chance you already know every song on this list of the best 2000s rock songs!

Did we forget your favorite song? Make sure you let us know in the comment section!

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