37 Best Punk Songs

Best Punk Songs

Punk rock's rebellious nature has made it an enduring part of the pop culture landscape for nearly five decades.

From New York City to London, punk has proven itself evergreen by tapping into the angst of youth. Check out our list of the best punk songs to see – punks not dead!

Contents

1. “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones

Song year: 1976

“Blitzkrieg Bop” is the first song of The Ramones' first album, signaling a shot across the bow of mainstream music.

The song's buzzing guitars and anthemic, sing-along chorus are as catchy as they are menacing. But this song is not only a classic punk single.

2. “Marquee Moon” by Television

Song year: 1977

While much of punk music is visceral blasts of aggression, Television's sprawling guitar work and oblique song structure of “Marquee Moon” gave punk a jazz feel.

For its moody tone and sinewy guitar heroics, this single is one of the earliest examples of just how unique the presentation of punk rock music would be.

3. “London Calling” by The Clash

Song year: 1979

The Clash's iconic single “London Calling” was written by the band during a time of heightened paranoia about nuclear war.

From the song's staccato blasts of guitar to singer Joe Strummer's growl, the band feels on the verge of a meltdown. The single sets the tone for The Clash's classic double album London Calling.

4. “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” by X Ray Spex

Song year: 1977

X-Ray Spex's single “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” perfectly encapsulates the themes ensuing generations of punk artists would pursue. The song's anticonsumerism and antiauthoritarian content make it a rallying cry for freedom of expression.

Lead singer Poly Styrene's feminist perspective was pioneering and would inspire the riot Grrrl movement of the '90s.

5. “Personality Crisis” by New York Dolls

Song year: 1973

The New York Dolls were a gritty rock and roll band that dressed in drag and shocked audiences in the early '70s.

The ragged spirit of their music and the attitude of their live performances would be a forebearer to the punk scene that would develop in New York in the late '70s.

6. “God Save the Queen” by Sex Pistols

Song year: 1977

British punk pioneers Sex Pistols took aim at the English monarchy with their controversial single “God Save the Queen.” The song's title comes from the U.K.'s national anthem, and its lyrics equate the Queen to a fascist.

Despite its controversial nature, the song hit the number two spot on the British charts.

7. “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones

Song year: 1978

Irish punks The Undertones capture the reckless spirit of youth in their ode to young love, “Teenage Kicks.”

Thanks in part to a ringing endorsement by influential radio DJ John Peel, the song's three-chord barrage has become one of the most notable songs from the first era of punk rock.

8. “Alternative Ulster” by Stiff Little Fingers

Song year: 1978

Stiff Little Finger's single “Alternative Ulster” is about restless youth in Ireland during the civil unrest known as The Troubles.

The song's iconic guitar intro and ragged vocals are a jolt of energy for any teen bored in their bedroom. The song's anthemic chorus is made more impactful by its political background.

9. “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Song year: 1976

Former Television bassist Richard Hell struck out on his own with his group the Voidoids and recorded what amounts to punk rock's mission statement of nihilism with “Blank Generation.”

The song's obtuse references to drug use and existentialism capture the hopeless feeling that spawned so many to gravitate towards punk music. The single inspired the Sex Pistols' “Pretty Vacant.”

10. “Sonic Reducer” by Dead Boys

Song year: 1977

“Sonic Reducer” is a classic blast of snotty punk rock by Cleveland, Ohio's Dead Boys. The band was known for their wild stage shows and became one of the CBGB's frequent performers.

The band's career would be short-lived, but their influence can be seen and heard in punk rock to this day.

11. “In The City” by The Jam

Song year: 1977

The Jam's mod-influenced debut single, “In the City,” is a jagged punk anthem that helped create a new avenue for the genre to travel down.

Throughout the band's career, they would continue to incorporate the sounds of the first British Invasion into their music. Their mod-inspired punk sound would influence the more rhythmically inclined post-punk bands of the '80s.

12. “All Kindsa Girls” by The Real Kids

Song year: 1977

Often overlooked in the annals of punk rock, The Real Kids' “All Kindsa Girls” takes the energy of '50s style rock and roll and injects it into a pogo dance-worthy banger.

This Boston-based band wouldn't stick around for one full-length record, which has become highly sought after by collectors and punk historians.

13. “(I’m) Stranded” by The Saints

Song year: 1976

Australian group The Saints' first single, “(I'm) Stranded,” is a highly influential punk rock track. The record's success transcended Australia and put the band firmly in the ranks of notable first-wave punk acts.

Released before singles by The Clash or Sex Pistols, the frantic speed of the record and its roaring guitars were a blueprint for punk moving forward.

14. “We Got the Neutron Bomb” by The Weirdos

Song year: 1978

The Weirdos' “We Got the Neutron Bomb” helped establish California as fertile soil for the burgeoning punk rock sound.

While New York is considered the birth city of punk, The Weirdos were contemporaries of The Ramones. Their influence on L.A.'s punk scene would help the genre flourish and eventually branch off into new musical territory.

15. “Sex Beat” by The Gun Club

Song year: 1981

The Gun Club helped usher in roots and blues influences into punk rock with their song “Sex Beat.”

The track is a classic example of punk in Los Angeles and serves as a forebearer for heavy roots acts like The Blasters and The White Stripes that would infuse punk attitude into the blues.

16. “Los Angeles” by X

Song year: 1980

X's gritty punk rock single about life in the City of Angels, “Los Angeles,” is one of the most iconic American punk songs ever.

With their boy/girl vocals and classic rock and roll sound cranked to 11, X would become one of the most successful and influential California punk bands of the '80.

17. “Waiting Room” by Fugazi

Song year: 1988

After the breakup of hardcore pioneers Minor Threat, singer Ian MacKaye would form Fugazi. The group would go on to shape the world of post-punk through the new Millenium.

Fugazi's best-known song, “Waiting Room,” is a dancey amalgamation of hardcore and reggae that simultaneously builds and breaks the mold of post-hardcore.

18. “Shake Some Action” by Flamin’ Groovies

Song year: 1976

The Flamin' Groovies dropped their Rolling Stones-inspired pretense and recorded the sparkling punk rock single “Shake Some Action.”

With a '60s inspired jangle that comes across as anxiously dangerous, the track transcends punk and enters the rarified status of a song so good it's almost beyond description. It's punk rock perfection.

19. “Neat Neat Neat” by The Damned

Song year: 1977

The Damned's single “Neat Neat Neat” is a high octane rock and roll assault.

Over one of the most iconic basslines in punk history, The Damned thrash their way through the song in a blistering fashion. The band's influence is instrumental in creating the faster, more intense hardcore sound of the '80s.

20. “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” by Buzzcocks

Song year: 1978

As punk rock bands go, The Buzzcocks were one of the most musically accomplished. Their compositional skills and song structures helped them stand out amongst their punk peers.

With their classic single “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've),” the group exhibits their electric playing while dazzling with a pop sensibility.

21. “Holiday in Cambodia” by Dead Kennedys

“Holiday in Cambodia” by Dead Kennedys

Song year: 1980

The Dead Kennedy's surf-inflected single “Holiday in Cambodia” is a classic punk rock song that signaled, along with earlier work by The Clash, the beginning of hyperpolitical awareness in punk rock lyricism.

The band's eight-year career often found them at odds with conservative groups. Singer Jello Biafra would go on to found the punk label Alternative Tentacles.

22. “Nervous Breakdown” by Black Flag

Song year: 1979

Hardcore punk band Black Flag was perhaps the most influential punk rock group of the '80s. Their single “Nervous Breakdown” signaled a new, more aggressive chapter of punk.

Through booking their shows and releasing records on their own SST label, the band blazed a trail for independent artists to embrace and thrive in the DIY scene.

23. “Do Anything You Wanna Do” by Eddie & The Hot Rods

Song year: 1977

When punk rock captured the spirit of the U.K.'s youth, the prevailing pub rock bands of the country turned their direction to the new sound.

Eddie and the Hot Rods' classic single, “Do Anything You Wanna Do,” is a prime example of pub rock gone punk. The mixing of these two genres opened the door for what would become known as power pop.

24. “Another Girl Another Planet” by The Only Ones

Song year: 1978

The Only Ones' “Another Girl, Another Planet” is a classic mix of power pop and punk that has grown from a cult hit to one of the most beloved songs in punk.

Singing of a love so great it must be out of this world, the band's ragged sound comes across as celebratory and triumphant.

25. “Search and Destroy” The Stooges

Song year: 1973

The Stooges are considered the grandfathers of punk rock, and their ferocious single “Search and Destroy” shows why.

Over a thundering band so loud it sounds like a field recording from a battleground, singer Iggy Pop sings and screams his way to outlining the nihilistic and world-weary ethos of punk rock.

26. “Keep On Knocking” by Death

Song year: 1976

Death has the misfortune of being too visionary for its own good. The Detroit trio was one of the first punk bands in the country and the first all-black punk band, but their aggressive style and band name turned many away from the group.

They disbanded a year after releasing the cult hit, “Keep on Knocking.”

27. “Break It Up” by Patti Smith

Song year: 1975

Patti Smith was a rock and roll obsessed poet living in New York during the creatively fertile '70s. She began performing with a band and turned her love of rock and roll into the seminal punk album Horses.

“Break it Up” is a stand-out track from the album. Smith wrote the song with Television's Tom Verlaine, inspired by a dream about Jim Morrison.

28. “Chartered Trips” by Husker Du

Song year: 1984

As part of Husker Du's classic double album Zen Arcade, “Chartered Trips” helped stretch the boundaries of hardcore punk into psychedelia and alternative rock.

Husker Du's innovation helped breathe new life into the hardcore genre. The influence of their work echoes through post-punk, hardcore, and alternative music to this day.

29. “I Found That Essence Rare” by Gang of Four

Song year: 1979

Gang of Four balance dancefloor sensibilities with political overtones on their classic song “I Found That Essence Rare.”

One of the stand-out tracks on the group's classic album Entertainment!, the song's class consciousness and heavy rhythm inspired a generation of art punks to examine society and the dancefloor in equal measures.

30. “Minor Threat” by Minor Threat

Song year: 1981

Minor Threat helped usher in the hardcore wave of American punk music. Ian Mackaye's lyrics would also popularize the straight edge lifestyle within the hardcore community.

The band's eponymous track is a blistering anthem of the enduring spirit of youth. Minor Threat would only last three years, but their influence continues four decades later.

31. “Last Caress” by Misfits

Song year: 1980

The Misfits pioneer horror punk with their song “Last Caress.” The track's disturbing lyrics and raw sound are incredibly catchy, making its upsetting imagery even more taboo.

The song's influence on heavy music has led to dozens of covers, most notably by metal band Metalica, who have made “Last Caress” a staple of their live performances.

32. “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill

Song year: 1993

Feminist punk band Bikini Kill's iconic single “Rebel Girl” is an anthem of the riot grrrl movement. The song's theme of female empowerment is full of spirit and driven home by production and guitar work from trail-blazing female rocker Joan Jett.

The song remains a vital part of the canon of punk rock, which unfortunately remains disproportionately male.

33. “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways

Song year: 1976

All-female band The Runaways laid the foundation for heavy and melodic pop-punk with their classic single “Cherry Bomb.”  The song's tale of rebellious youth is an empowering song for young girls and a voice often underrepresented in rock and roll.

Guitarists Joan Jett and Lita Ford would go on to highly successful solo careers.

34. “Hanging on the Telephone” by Blondie

Song year: 1978

Initially written and recorded by power pop band The Nerves, Blondie's version of “Hanging on the Telephone” would be one of several hits off their record Parallel Lines.

Blondie became one of the early New York City punk scene's biggest breakout bands. As the decade continued, they would gain notoriety by injecting dance, reggae, and hip hop into their punk sound.

35. “Mannequin” by Wire

Song year: 1977

Approaching the already threadbare genre of punk with a stripped-down sound, Wire's sinewy guitar work is highly influential in post-punk circles. Their song “Mannequin” is the band at peak form, combining minimalism with classic pop melodicism.

With short songs and skeletal arrangements, the band's influence can be seen today in the quick singles by hyper pop artists.

36. “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers

Song year: 1976

Heavily influenced by the Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers' “Roadrunner” serves as a bridge between the earliest proto-punk of '60s rock and roll and its hyperactive mutation into '77 style punk.

The single is the signature song of The Modern Lovers, a band with a cult following that never made it much further than their native Boston, Massachusetts.

37. Bloodstains” by Agent Orange

Song year: 1980

By mixing surf music with hardcore, Agent Orange created skate punk. Their classic single “Bloodstains” is the highwater mark of a genre that grew with the popularity of skateboarding in the U.S.

The band's influence on Californian punk is particularly pronounced, with bands such as The Offspring noting them as influences.

Top Punk Songs, Final Thoughts

From the artistically inclined groups of early New York punk to the British anarchists and California skaters, every person to play punk put their unique stamp on the genre.

The sound and style of punk may morph over the years, but as long as angsty kids are smashing away at instruments, there will always be punk music. We hope you enjoyed our list of the best punk songs. Oi!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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