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Foo Fighters’ 10 Best Songs

In celebration of Dave Grohl's 53rd birthday, here are the Foos' 10 best

foo fighters best songs
Illustration by Steven Fiche
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    Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated.


    Foo Fighters certainly had a hell of a 2021 — after releasing their tenth studio album Medicine At Midnight, the band reopened Madison Square Garden for full-capacity concerts, released a Bee Gees cover album as “The Dee Gees” (and trolled White Supremacists while they did it), headlined festivals all over the US, and gave everyone a much-needed dose of rock and roll.

    This is, of course, just what they do — especially the band’s mastermind, Dave Grohl. We write a lot about Grohl here at Consequence, and that’s because his enthusiasm and appreciation for music is boundless, and he does it all while remaining grounded, honest, and respectable.

    From his documentary on van touring and his remarkable memoir The Storyteller to his drum battle with child prodigy Nandi Bushell and the upcoming Foo Fighters horror project Studio 666, Grohl is truly living his best life, always inviting us to join the party along the way.

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    In celebration of Grohl’s 53rd birthday today (January 14th), we’ve updated our definitive list of the best Foo Fighters tracks of all time. In all of these songs is Dave Grohl’s heart, soul, and of course, his full-throated roar.

    Check out the list below, and scroll to the end for a playlist of all 10 tracks.

    — Paolo Ragusa


    10. “My Hero”

    It’s a bit poetic to think that “My Hero” opens with Grohl alone on his drum set, expressing the language that had given him nearly a decade of opportunity as a musician. “My Hero” is the celebration of an ordinary man and the unsung heroes of the world, but it’s also an ode to musicians everywhere: the magic of music can make a hero out of anyone. With some trademark grunge mixed with a power pop chorus, “My Hero” immediately became an iconic Foo Fighters anthem, and its resonance carries over to today. And given Grohl’s storied career, it’s clear that it’s his turn to be the hero now. — P.R.

    09. “Breakout”

    “Breakout” feels a bit like a spiritual successor to “Monkey Wrench” — Grohl and Co. are so agitated that they have no choice but to create a cathartic pop anthem. However, “Breakout” is even more cheeky, and when Grohl repeats, “I don’t wanna look like that!”, you definitely believe him. It’s a perfect example of their hybrid grunge-pop formula: raucous and wild, but with a universal sing-a-long. And like many tracks on There Is Nothing Left To Lose, there’s a calmness among the chaos that helped define the band as alt-rock icons. — P.R.

    08. “I’ll Stick Around”

    Foo Fighters’ debut was an experiment in confidence for Dave Grohl, and the punk-inspired opening riff on “I’ll Stick Around” is as bold as ever. But when the verses emerge, Grohl’s vocals are more understated and fraught. “I’ll Stick Around” features all the elements that Foo Fighters became known for in their ensuing studio albums: some proud rock and roll ferocity mixed with the introspective vulnerability of grunge, all balanced perfectly to create a palatable and universal feel. Over 25 years later, “I’ll Stick Around” still serves as that statement of confidence from Grohl after Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, and a steadfast vision of the future, too. — P.R.

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    07. “The Pretender”

    The first (and best) track off Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, “The Pretender” carries over both the aggression and violins from the Foo’s previous effort, merging what was separated on In Your Honor into one bracing single. Grohl’s rage-filled vocals question authority, bite back against conformity, and yet he never distances himself from the listener. Does the message end up an afterthought to said listeners? Absolutely, but that’s only because Grohl writes better hooks than most other “rock” stars of our era. He’s too busy engaging his audience both on record and on the road to be too concerned about boring ol’ messages, anyway. — Justin Gerber

    06. “Learn To Fly”

    “Learn To Fly” is earnest Foo Fighters through and through: there’s a sweetness and a purity that dominates this track, more so than much of their catalog. Grohl, Hawkins and Mendel know that they don’t have to do too much on “Learn To Fly,” and its simplicity is what makes it special. More often than not, Grohl’s quest for answers in the most general sense leads to a rage-heavy rail against the powers that be (see: “The Pretender”), but on “Learn To Fly,” Grohl removes the weights and slides into each melody with honesty and heart. It’s songs like “Learn To Fly” that garner dozens of comparisons between Grohl and Tom Petty, and not just in its title: both artists represent rock and roll with passion and earnestness, made for everyone and anyone. — P.R.

    05. “Monkey Wrench”

    Oh, to go back to the spring of 1997. There was a time when I could scream out the nervous breakdown of “Monkey Wrench” without taking a single breath and belt out the word “fast” as if the lives of me and my friends depended on it. I’m obsessed with nostalgia and worrying that looking back can be dangerous, but how can you not love this song? As the first single to The Colour and the Shape, it proved Grohl’s project had become a proper band, and one with enough passion and energy to blow the roof off arenas well over a decade later. — J.G.

    04. “This Is a Call”

    Although rawer than anything that came after it, the first widely heard Foo Fighters song established Dave Grohl’s preferred aesthetic: vague yet relatable lyrics and stadium-sized hooks. The words are nothing more than a series of positive nonsequiturs to Grohl’s friends and former bandmates (“fingernails are pretty!” “Them balloons are pretty big!”), but that doesn’t matter. “This Is a Call” is about an energy, an optimism, a starting over. In other words, it was just what Grohl needed given that Kurt Cobain had shot himself only six months prior to the recording. And maybe we needed it, too. — Dan Caffrey

    03. “Times Like These”

    Many folks dig on the acoustic version of “Times Like These.” Maybe it’s because the sonics more closely match Grohl’s self-doubt at the time of writing One By One‘s best song. But we’ll always go for the electric. It’s simply more uplifting, thanks in no small part to Grohl and Shiflett’s dueling leads. Their guitar lines intertwine, then float away, as if the two musicians are having a conversation in the sky. Sure, the piano in the unplugged version is purdy, but when you’re feeling like shit — as the entire band was during the recording of One By One — what would you rather have? A ballad or an anthem? — D.C.

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    02. “Aurora”

    “Aurora,” a highlight from Foo Fighters’ third LP There Is Nothing Left To Lose and a frequently-chosen deep cut for their live shows, is one of their finest compositions. “Aurora” is a masterclass in both mood and restraint, with Grohl, Mendel and Hawkins unifying in an organic and captivating way across five minutes and 49 seconds. Its pinwheeling riffs and gradual full-band build is among the best in their catalog, and Grohl’s wistful reflection on the past is wholly authentic.

    He’s equally starry-eyed and stoned, noting, “I just kinda died for you/ you just kinda stared at me,” and “Hell yeah, I remember Aurora.” That ’90s slacker aesthetic is second nature to Grohl, but the meticulousness of the saga that is “Aurora” demonstrates just how purposeful each detail is.T

    he song progresses to a full rock-and-roll crescendo, only to transform into rolling, atmospheric dream pop anchored by Taylor Hawkins’ groove for the last 30 seconds. It’s Foo Fighters at their most tasteful, experimental, and personal all-in-one, and a true bright spot in their extensive collection of rock. — P.R.

    01. “Everlong”

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    I could be wrong, but I swear I’ve heard David Letterman introduce several musical acts on his show as “my favorite band.” Regardless, he’s always seemed to mean it with the Foo Fighters. They were the first musicians he asked to be on the Late Show after his quintuple bypass surgery in 2000; they were brought in to play his favorite song. Of course, it was “Everlong.” What else would it have been?

    There will no doubt be a string of comments lamenting the deep cuts that should have made this list, but I’ll be genuinely surprised if anyone disagrees with number one. And that’s because it has stakes. Remember, Grohl wrote the song’s lyrics while his marriage crumbled around him and he fell in love with another woman. He had both nothing and everything to lose. Hawkins’ hissing ride on the hi-hit adds further urgency, and by the end, the risk could apply to anything: divorce, forming a band, heart surgery.

    Like a lot of people, Letterman got through a difficult period thanks to “Everlong,” something he elaborated on when he invited Foo Fighters back to play it again in 2011. The sound was bigger; Nate Mendel’s bass bubbled, the guitars had multiplied to three, and the audience furiously clapped along. Yet despite the expansion, the song’s sentiment remained the same.

    “Everlong” will always be universal. It will always be about risk, about holding your breath and leaping into the unknown. Everyone loves it, and, for once, everyone is right. — D.C.


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    Catch Foo Fighters on tour; tickets are available via Ticketmaster.

    Foo Fighters’ Best Songs Playlist:

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