43 Best 2020s Rock Songs

Best 2020s Rock Songs

Everyone has their favorite era of rock music, whether you like classic rock, grunge, alternative, or heavy metal. Rock music in the 2020s has been innovative, with songs that sound fresh but clearly show that musicians are learning from what’s come before them. Check out the best 2020s rock songs and see what bands catch your ears.


“American Crisis” by Bob Mould

Song Year: 2020

Bob Mould is well-known in alternative rock circles, so it’s not surprising that he released this angry track during an election year. He’s upset that he’s already lived through so much political upheaval with people not caring about individual rights, and now he’s facing it again. He mentions several major issues Americans face, all over a pounding rock track.

“Chinatown” by Bleachers ft. Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 2021

As you continue down this list of the best 2020s rock songs, you’ll see that many of the tracks feature a guest artist. Bruce Springsteen is one of the biggest names, and he elevates this song into something timeless.

The men turn the chorus into a duet that makes you feel like you’re escaping the city right along with them. Despite the addition of an acoustic guitar and a synthesizer, the single truly rocks.

“Monsters” by All Time Low ft. blackbear

Song Year: 2020

All Time Low released “Monsters” right after lockdown when everyone wanted something to take their minds off the pandemic. This rocking song was the perfect distraction. One verse is a rap courtesy of blackbear, but the overall track is pure alternative rock, just what the band’s fans want to hear. It even hit number one on Billboard’s alternative charts.

“The Steps” by Haim

Song Year: 2020

All three sisters sing on this track, and their voices each add something different to the music. The song is about a relationship that’s unraveling. The woman still feels invested, but her partner gets angry at the slightest thing and doesn’t seem to share his life with her anymore.

“The Steps” rocks in a light way, making you feel more from the lyrics than the instruments. The song ends without a resolution, so you’re left wondering if they understand each other in the end.

“No Flag” by Elvis Costello

Song Year: 2020

Elvis Costello manages to stay relevant even while playing music that sounds decades old. You’d think this song was coming across your college radio station’s airwaves, but the music works for the lyrics. Costello sings about wanting to leave the public and stop caring about the mess around him. This anger seems to egg him on so he can rock harder than you’d expect.

“Ode to the Mets” by The Strokes

Song Year: 2020

The Strokes always manage to sound fresh and classic at the same time. “Ode to the Mets” takes that a step beyond because it feels like Julian Casablancas is channeling Frank Sinatra himself. The seven-minute song is epic, though the lyrics don’t have deep meaning. The title is for the baseball team, but you can twist the lyrics into whatever you want them to be.

“Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers

Song Year: 2020

Phoebe Bridgers keeps delivering stellar songs, and “Kyoto” is one of the best. The lyrics follow her to Japan, where she’s playing her music but feels like an imposter. She’s so far removed, physically and mentally, from where she was when she wrote it that she couldn’t even relate to it anymore. It’s an interesting concept, made even better put to rocking music.

“OK” by Wallows

Song Year: 2020

This single came out before the COVID-19 lockdown, but something about the earnest chorus gives off major pandemic vibes. The lead singer wants to know if we can ever feel okay again, and there’s no definitive answer by the end of the song.

In reality, the song is about love, and he’s asking his partner to trust him because they love each other, and that should be enough. But the lyrics work on several different levels and are catchy to boot.

“Fox” by Dogleg

Song Year: 2020

The lyrics to this song read like poetry, much deeper than you’d expect from a rock song. The song ends with the idea that waiting for someone else to make a move will cause you to disintegrate. It inspires you to take control whenever you can, even though you’re in a painful situation. It’s emotional yet empowering, with a catchy rock track running below the lyrics.

“Care” by beabadoobee

Song Year: 2020

This song takes you back to the 1990s heyday of alternative rock with a hint of grunge. The song starts soft, then amps up before getting soft again. The vocals work well with that type of music. The lyrics also embody the concept of grunge, with the singer accusing everyone else of pretending to care when they don’t really pay attention to her at all.

“Bloody Valentine” by Machine Gun Kelly

Song Year: 2020

Most people know Machine Gun Kelly as a rapper, but his venture into pop-punk has been surprisingly well-received. For “Bloody Valentine,” the singer partnered with Travis Barker of Blink-182 fame.

The music has heavy guitars and bass along with synthesizers, keeping it upbeat despite the title. Overall, the lyrics are pretty sweet, though a rock song with “Bloody” in the title doesn’t really sound like your typical love letter.

“Mood” by 24kGoldn ft. iann dior

Song Year: 2020

“Mood” is a mix of rap, rock, and pop, but there’s something impressive about a song you could hear on all radio stations. The lyrics are relatable, too, as they accuse someone of always being in a certain mood. Instead of being receptive to others, the listener bristles because 24kGoldn isn’t putting up with your attitude.

This song will definitely get stuck in your head when you’re frustrated by everyone around you; it’s incredibly catchy and understandable.

“Sweet Little Lady” by The Big Push

Song Year: 2020

The Big Push is a great British rock band that uploads its music to YouTube. They’ve gained tons of followers because they mashup popular rock songs, giving them the reputation of a unique cover band. But they also started releasing original music, and “Sweet Little Lady” is one of those tracks.

While it’s definitely a rock song, it also has elements of blues and ska, which no one expected from this band. The lyrics are a little repetitive and not too deep, but they’re catchy.

“Scissorhands” by Maggie Lindemann

Song Year: 2021

Maggie Lindemann came onto the scene with upbeat rock music, but the industry must have stolen her innocence because she quickly started making moody rock. As you might expect from the title, the song is about the Tim Burton movie “Edward Scissorhands.” But Lindemann puts her own influence on the story, creating a punk-rock song that will make you sing along.

“Ohms” by Deftones

Song Year: 2020

Deftones are one of the biggest, most consistent names in hard rock, and it’s amazing that they’re still putting out new, quality music. Their albums always pound, but there’s at least one breathtaking song on each release. “Ohms” is that stand-out track. It’s the titular track, but you have to wait until the end of the album to hear it.

Don’t let the song’s slow start fool you. Let the riff build, and then you’ll feel Chino Moreno’s vocals rip through the song and take you away.

“Say Less” by Nothing

Song Year: 2020

This catchy rock song is heavy on the instruments, which works out nicely because the lyrics aren’t really relatable. Still, you’ll find yourself singing along because they’re nonsensically catchy. The random lyrics are by design, as the band recorded the album during the lockdown and wanted to explore isolation and the possibility of human extinction.

Perhaps not the happiness subject matter, but once you hear the track, you won’t mind. The song is beautiful, even if the subject matter isn’t.

“How Will I Rest in Peace if I’m Buried by a Highway” by KennyHoopla

Song Year: 2020

The title alone is enough to grab your attention and stick in your mind, but the song is just as catchy. KennyHoopla mixes new wave and emo, a style most people would never have thought of as decent. The lyrics add a lot of depth to the music, with KennyHoopla attacking culture and people who put you in a box without letting you explore your options and find yourself.

“Run” by Joji

Song Year: 2020

Joji is best known as a YouTube star, so it might seem strange that he’s gone on to release one of the best rock songs in the 2020s. “Run” sounds like a classic rock ballad, complete with a stunning guitar color. This song is a great example of how you can take classic rock and revamp it into something fresh and unique.

“Girls & Boys” by Viagra Boys

Song Year: 2021

Viagra Boys mix punk and new wave into a fresh rock style that uses pounding bass to keep the song going. The verses are like spoken-word poetry, and the band uses a saxophone to ensure they stick out among other new artists. This catchy song is sure to be a permanent fixture on your current rock playlist.

“The Beachland Ballroom” by IDLES

Song Year: 2021

IDLES has always relied on their powerful vocals, but “The Beachland Ballroom” gives off rock ballad vibes. Not the stereotypical sugary songs you’re thinking of, but something very heavy and emotional. The guitars are strong, and the lyrics are powerful.

“Wake Me Up” by FOALS

Song Year: 2022

“Wake Me Up” has the vibe of a Talking Heads song, but it’s definitely a funky rock track. You’ll want to dance along because this song encourages you to release your anxiety and move forward with hopefulness and optimism. Even though it’s a catchy song, there’s trademark rock in terms of drums and bass that shakes your core.

“7 Seconds” by Porridge Radio

Song Year: 2020

Many rock fans won’t want to dance, but “7 Seconds” might make you change your mind. It has a slight influence from the Go-Gos and 1980s rock thanks to the synthesizers. But it has rock elements, too, with guitar riffs galore and heavy drums. Singer Dana Margolin is trying to end a relationship that never seemed right, but she never directly answers if she gets away or not.

“Circle the Drain” By Soccer Mommy

“Circle the Drain” By Soccer Mommy

Song Year: 2020

Like many songs released in 2020, “Circle the Drain” took on a different meaning when the pandemic began. Even the title alone sounds heavier, but the track itself rocks, as well. The lyrics are about feeling like you’re falling apart, doing the same thing all the time until you ache from the effort. Still, you want to be calm and peaceful like rain.

“Me & You Together Song” by The 1975

Song Year: 2020

“Me & You Together Song” will transport you back to your first crush. The lyrics are about the singer asking out a friend after developing feelings. It tracks the things they did together and how he’s been in love with her forever. Though he’s loved her his entire life, there’s no clear end to the song and the story it’s telling, as the singer claims he needs more pages.

“Backyard Boy” by Claire Rosinkranz

Song Year: 2020

Claire Rosinkranz started uploading her songs online, with one of them becoming a TikTok dance craze. But you should feel thankful for that strange app because Rosinkranz’s full-length single is a rock hit. It’s good enough to secure a record deal, so you’ll hear more than just this summer rock song from the talented young singer.

“Here’s the Thing” by Sports Team

Song Year: 2020

Sports Team is an indie band that seems to make music for the fun of it. In a time where musicians can let their egos impact their output, it’s a refreshing change. The lyrics aren’t anything special, but when you hear them with the solid indie rock backdrop, they feel just classic enough to take you back in time to the good old days.

“Seventeen Going Under” by Sam Fender

Song Year: 2021

Sam Fender was on the cusp of rock or pop with his first album, which was light on guitar. But now, he’s recruited a full band and gives off pure Springsteen rock vibes in this song. The lyrics tell the story of high school days and feeling like your teenage emotions were out of control.

“Fleabag” by YUNGBLUD

Song Year: 2021

YUNGBLUD is a complete rock star, whether you love him or hate him. He looks like a 1980s hair band throwback, but his music is pretty commercial-sounding. Much of his music sounds like he’s ripping off of the late 1990s and early 2000s rock, which wasn’t the best even then. But his songs are so catchy that it’s worth looking past the theft and enjoying the tunes.

“White Elephant” by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Song Year: 2021

Nick Cave always sings darker rock songs, but this track makes it seem like he’s boiling over. When you listen to the lyrics, you’ll understand why. Cave sings about issues plaguing American culture, so understandably, there’s anger behind his words.

“Three Wishes” by Stone Temple Pilots

Song Year: 2020

Stone Temple Pilots emerged during the grunge era, but they’ve stayed innovative as music trends changed. Now, the band is back with a new lead singer, Jeff Gutt, years after original frontman Scott Weiland’s death.

This song isn’t an upbeat rock song, but with lyrics about bad timing, it shouldn’t be. The new singer addresses a lover who can’t return his feelings. The song rocks, but it’ll also bring you down a bit.

“Oh Yeah!” by Green Day

Song Year: 2020

Green Day can pull off any style of music, from punk to alternative to pure rock. They’ve released power ballads and songs that make you scream along. With this single, the band is channeling classic rock queen Joan Jett. You’ll hear powerful rock guitar, a beat that asks you to clap in time, and catchy “Oh yeahs,” to sing along with Billie Joe Armstrong.

“Work” by Pop Evil

Song Year: 2021

This song broke the top 10 of the mainstream rock charts, but it’s not as rock-sounding as you might expect. The verses have a rap-style delivery, and the music gives off an electronic vibe. While it’s not an earth-shattering song about the world, it definitely helped distract people newly working from home, with lyrics about breaking free and finding happiness.

“Change” by Pale Waves

Song Year: 2020

Pale Waves are an indie-pop band from England. The single “Change” gives off an Avril Lavinge vibe, right down to the teenage angst bubbling out of the chorus. Whether you’re going through heartbreak now or remembering your high school relationships, this song will hit you in the right spot. It addresses how quickly someone can change their mind after they claim to love you.

“U&ME” by Alt-J

Song Year: 2022

Alt-J has a signature sound, and while many people wouldn’t classify it as rock, this track definitely qualifies. The vocals are melodic, and the tempo is very laid-back. The lyrics tell an equally relaxing story about summer vacations and flashes of memories.

“Dance of the Clairvoyants” by Pearl Jam

Song Year: 2020

Pearl Jam has the staying power you wouldn’t have expected from a grunge band, but they continue to reinvent themselves and release rocking albums. “Dance of the Clairvoyants” is their first new song since 2013, and fans were hungry for their music.

It’s not what you’d expect from the band, with keyboards added into the band and Eddie Vedder sounding more like David Byrne than his usual self. But it’s a catchy rock song that shows Pearl Jam can stay relevant.

“Our Love” by Incubus

Song Year: 2020

The song starts off with drums, and they keep the beat moving along throughout the track. Brandon Boyd sings over the band about how love protects people. While someone is trying to hold them back and work as an oppressive force, love is something that lifts you up. If you display it proudly instead of hiding it away, you’ll feel empowered and unaffected.

“Paradise Lost (A Poem by John Milton)” by The Used

Song Year: 2020

This song is sure to tug at your emotions while it rocks you. The lyrics are about tragedy and trauma in a relationship and how those issues somehow make it harder to distance yourself from a bad partner. You’ll battle trying to selfishly free yourself or struggling eternally with the wrong person, all within a four-minute song.

“Dear Agony (Aurora Version)” by Breaking Benjamin ft. Lacey Sturm

Song Year: 2020

Breaking Benjamin released “Dear Agony” back in 2009, but they re-release songs between albums. It’s a cool way to hear something new from your favorite bands while you wait for a full album. Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf joins the band to elevate this rocker into a stunning duet. The original track still rocks, but Sturm’s vocals really change the song.

“Hero” by Weezer

Song Year: 2020

Weezer’s always bridged the gap between rock and emo, so this song about being an outcast perfectly suits their signature style. The band manages to keep its timeless spirit while updating its sound enough to fit right into the 2020s. Even though the song is about outcasts, it’s super catchy and makes you feel understood, even if you’re alone.

“Ordinary Man” by Ozzy Osbourne ft. Elton John

Song Year: 2020

Back in the 1970s, the idea of Ozzy Osbourne partnering with Elton John would get you kicked out of rock circles. But times have changed, and the piano backing of this rock ballad is the perfect touch. Osbourne sings about his life in the spotlight and wonders if he’s done enough to make an impact on the world.

There’s a guitar solo thrown in, so you won’t think Osbourne has gone completely soft. This song rocks—but it’s also a touching memoir told in five minutes.

“Rue” by girl in red

Song Year: 2020

This song makes you feel trapped in the best way possible. Singer Marie Ulven said it’s not actually about her own life because the person in the song is battling an addiction. But the feeling of trying to escape the life you’re in is something everyone can relate to at some point or another.

Whether your brain is racing and holding you captive or it’s truly your circumstances, you’ll enjoy the reality in the lyrics of this rock song.

“Atlas Falls” by Shinedown

Song Year: 2020

This rock anthem by Shinedown came out at the right time—the band had written it years ago but didn’t release it until the pandemic began. It’s an uplifting song that talks about learning from the past and looking forward to the future. There are lots of great songs about hardships, and this track is one you don’t want to miss.

“Death by Rock and Roll” by The Pretty Reckless

Song Year: 2020

After listening to all these rock songs, you might feel like you’ve reached your end, so why not end on “Death By Rock and Roll”? This song starts just as heavy as you’d expect, with guitars chugging along while the drums push the beat. Taylor Momsen’s vocals are as sweet as sugar while she sings about people who have lost their lives, claiming she just wants to die by music.

Top Rock Songs Of The 2020s, Final Thoughts

Regardless of the specific type of rock you like, there’s something for everyone on this list of the best 2020s rock songs. Musicians are pulling from the past, and older bands keep reinventing themselves. These are just a few of the best rock songs of the 2020s, with more to come over the years.

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