Every Foo Fighters Album Ranked From Worst to Best

How have we not done this before today?

foo fighters albums
Illustration by Steven Fiche

    Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we’re ushering in Foo Fighters Week with a definitive ranking of the rockers’ discography.

    “Reliable” is perhaps the most apt term to describe Foo Fighters’ legacy in 2022. Across ten albums, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Chris Shifflett, Taylor Hawkins, and most recent member Rami Jaffee have seemingly cracked the code for rock in the 21st century. There’s an unapologetic earnestness and vigor, led with ease by Grohl, that has characterized all of the band’s biggest songs and albums. Even on their weaker LPs, the band just doesn’t miss.

    Originally existing as a solo project for Grohl after the tragic passing of Kurt Cobain, Foo Fighters’ sonic evolution began in a small, introspective way, before eventually transforming into a cathartic, powerhouse six-member outfit. These days, Foo Fighters are not only one of the best selling rock acts of all time, they’re revered heavily for their ethos and philosophy, prioritizing the spirit of creating rock music in its purest form above all else.


    Over 25 years into their existence, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers have conquered the music world without scandals or compromising their essence. Grohl has aged, certainly, but he’s done so with wisdom, grace, and his trademark humor, ever the champion of newer artists carrying the Foos’ torch and proudly maintaining his platform of rock icon. To this day, each news headline involving Grohl’s name is more heartwarming than the last.

    We write A LOT about Foo Fighters here at Consequence, and trust us, we’re aware — but we write so much about them because of how undeniable their presence in modern rock music is, and how well they’ve maintained their status and image without losing their edge.


    Many of us, including this writer, have experienced defining and life changing moments at Foo Fighters shows. (We’re looking forward to getting more of our fill at their upcoming stadium dates.) And if you love music, the band makes it incredibly easy to connect with them.

    Here are each of Foo Fighters’ ten studio albums ranked.

    Paolo Ragusa

    10. Sonic Highways (2014)

    Sonic Highways Every Foo Fighters Album Ranked From Worst to Best

    Runtime: 42 minutes, 8 tracks

    Kudos, My Hero: Foo Fighters recorded each song on Sonic Highways in a different city, drawing inspiration from the environments and musical history within which they were working. They used local engineers and musicians to polish off the album in these various studios, but rather than get a new producer for each city, the band recruited longtime producer Butch Vig to round everything out.

    The Best of You: “Outside” was recorded in the California desert and features a stellar solo from Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. Though the track takes the experience of getting out of the city and into the natural environment of the desert quite literally, it’s definitely one of the most curious and cathartic songs on Sonic Highways.

    It bears mentioning once again that Walsh’s pivotal extended solo throughout the song’s bridge is one of the brightest moments on the album — and the band agrees About the solo, Hawkins said, “If you’re gonna have Joe Walsh on your album, you’re not gonna just give him four bars. You’re gonna give him 40 bars and take us out into the fuckin’ desert, man!”


    The Pretender: “In the Clear” is one of those odd Foo Fighters tracks that fails to leave any kind of impression. Taking inspiration from the jazz hall acts of New Orleans, Foo Fighters couldn’t quite manage blending those styles with their own, failing to echo the stories of The Big Easy’s prolific musical backdrop.

    Stacked to the Rafters: “Something From Nothing” came out with a bang — and a lot of that had to do with the album’s accompanying HBO mini series Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. With an opening that calls “The Pretender” to mind, Foo Fighters truly build “something from nothing,” starting small and eventually exploding with pure rock and roll energy.

    Them Balloons Are Pretty Big: Foo Fighters may not have won any awards for Sonic Highways, but the docuseries was a major move for the band — as we know from their upcoming horror-comedy film Studio 666, the Foos are definitely good on camera.


    When I Sing Along with You: The puzzling thing about Sonic Highways is that when watching the series, you really get the sense that this band cares about music, history, and the powerful dynamics that tie it all together from city to city. Yet, even with all the various genres represented by its guest stars, the album doesn’t contain nearly enough experimentation or risk-taking from Foo Fighters.

    A lot of the songs seem to fall flat or feel rushed, and though Grohl’s lyrics were inspired by these locations, he ended up using this inspiration in a much more literal and on-the-nose way. There are some gems, as there are on all Foo Fighters albums, but Sonic Highways doesn’t quite reach the payoff that its high ambitions were expecting. — P.R.

    09. Concrete & Gold (2017)

    Concrete Gold Every Foo Fighters Album Ranked From Worst to Best

    Runtime: 48:17, 11 tracks

    Kudos, My Hero (Producer): Concrete and Gold was Foo Fighters’ first collaboration with Greg Kurstin, a storied, cross-genre producer who’s worked in recent years with Adele, Beck, Paul McCartney, Maren Morris, and more. Kurstin’s robust background in pop especially might have fed into the clean, attainable momentum of tracks like “Make It Right,” and the production album-wide is unadorned and crisp in a way that’s not particularly showy, but still feels like it serves the music.

    The Best of You (Best Song): Concrete and Gold has a few solid standouts, but “Run” marks the most interesting instance in the development of Foo Fighters’ sound. Twenty-plus years into making music together, meaningful development isn’t an easy thing to come by — especially without feeling like a heel turn for its own sake. The incorporation of metal into “Run” feels not only organic and warranted, but actually necessitated by the character of the album at large. It’s the most successful synthesis on the album of classic, characteristic hard rock, and a heavier, metal-adjacent sound the band at that time had yet to fully dive into. “Run” also set the tone for the rest of the album, with its sentiments of striving for survival and sanity amid political chaos.

    The Pretender (Worst Song): “La Dee Da” uses references to obscure racist bands to criticize the short-sightedness of the “pretty promises” made in racist politics and circles — a strong message in general, but here it’s left relatively uncomplicated by the song’s treatment of it. Some of Grohl’s seething vocals feel like fitting counterparts to the metal introduced in “Run,” and the track contains a few semi-standout lines, like, “Love who I like/ Hate if I want to.” Overall, though, “La Dee Da” finds the raging, static heaviness threaded throughout Concrete and Gold arriving at less of a real conclusion than some of its more skillfully developed counterparts.


    Stacked to the Rafters (Biggest Single): “Run” and “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” both peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. While “Run” was the lead single and marked some of the most interesting sonic moments on the album, “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” is imbued with a memorable catchiness that feels tailor-made for stadium success.

    “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” searches for solace in the atomic connection of human life to the universe at large, but without sacrificing the angst and turmoil central to the album as a whole — a contradiction which only works in the song’s favor. The expansion of the titular chorus into the lines, “Oh my dear, Heaven is a big bang now/ Gotta get to sleep somehow,” is impossible to shake once it gets in your head, and feels like a characteristic moment of determined rock meant to sit somewhere near the classics in their discography.

    Them Balloons Are Pretty Big (Grammys/Accolades): Concrete and Gold was the second Foo Fighters album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and its singles were popular and climbed multiple charts upon release. “Run” was the song that carried the album in terms of critical acclaim, winning a Grammy for Best Rock Song and a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance in 2018. Concrete and Gold wasn’t overly lauded, but it didn’t do too terribly, either, especially for a later-career album.


    When I Sing Along with You (Analysis): Foo Fighters found fertile ground in their ninth studio album’s effort to tread the line between, as Grohl put it, “Hope and desperation.” These key themes provided a reliable rudder for an album with a solid balance between intense hard rock, more ruminative prog rock, and even metal — even during the moments when it felt like the band hadn’t fully decided how they felt about the themes in question.

    Concrete and Gold is loaded with noticeable influences from fellow bands and predecessors; it’s easy to hear Led Zeppelin in the guiding guitar line of “Make It Right,” The Beatles in the background vocals of “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” and the reliable drumline and nostalgic electric guitar of “Sunday Rain” (which featured an actual Beatle, Paul McCartney, on drums). But it still holds true to the Foo Fighters’ sonic priorities in its persistent intensity, and in all these songs, Grohl’s vocals reaffirm the band’s effort and conviction, even when their messages fall short via straightforward lyrics or expected melodies.

    Hope and desperation are necessary foils in the conflicted world with which Concrete and Gold tries to engage — but the album’s commitment to both at times keeps it from delving into either with quite the amount of depth and reflection they demand. Still, firm artistic conclusions to ongoing, real-life conflicts are a tall order, and the album’s ultimate progression from “Just trying to keep my T-shirt clean” to “Our roots are stronger than you know/ Up through the concrete, they will grow” manages to be a relatively convincing one.


    In a year that was (like many recent years) plagued by uncertainty, Foo Fighters didn’t have many strict answers to offer here. Still, they did follow through sufficiently on their usual ability to carve meaning and ferocity from the fear. — Laura Dzubay

    08. Medicine at Midnight (2021)

    Medicine At Midnight Every Foo Fighters Album Ranked From Worst to Best

    Runtime: 36:32, 9 tracks

    Kudos, My Hero: Medicine at Midnight saw the return of Greg Kurstin, who also helped produce Concrete and Gold. Again, Kurstin’s crisp, polished style allows the songs here to speak for themselves; the album is full of solid, evenly built tracks with polished production in which cohesion feels natural and contrasts, like the buildup in the intro to “Love Dies Young,” stand out in gleaming, intentional focus.

    The Best of You: “Shame Shame” isn’t a loud or particularly energetic song, especially by Foo Fighters’ standards, but the plucky riff guiding and driving the chorus at the center of it is a tough one to resist. While Medicine at Midnight is bookended by “Making a Fire” and “Love Dies Young,” two anthemic songs that feel like honorable efforts at a classically crowd-pleasing Foo Fighters sound, “Shame Shame” is the best exemplar of what the slower, driving rhythms of much of the rest of the album are trying to get at.

    It contains some of the album’s crispest lyrics (“If you want to/ I’ll make you feel something real just to bother you”), and the delicate, near-whispered refrains of “Shame, shame, shame, shame” accomplish a quiet, nearly haunting (and definitely haunted) effect, which goes far beyond what’s achieved by the more ferocious vocals in louder songs that have less to say.


    The Pretender: “No Son of Mine” feels like a mid-album attempt to inject more energy and intensity into a record that for the most part tends to go for slower and steadier paces; it possesses a driving, hard-rock energy, and finds Grohl ripping through intense vocals in the venting, frenetic chorus.

    Unfortunately, the melody is repetitive enough that it doesn’t fully stand out in the listener’s memory as much as it’s attempting to, and it also suffers from relatively generic lyrics. In both cases, what’s set up in the first minute or so of the song does not get complicated or pushed much farther in the minutes that follow.

    Stacked to the Rafters: “Waiting on a War” was the third single released, and it spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Hard Rock Songs chart. The track carries a direct relevancy and dynamism that makes it more thematically memorable than its fellow singles, as well as many of the other tracks on the album.


    Inspired by a conversation with Grohl’s daughter as well as his own childhood in the 1980s under the looming shadow of the Cold War, “Waiting on a War” counters the overhanging fear and cultural domination of the idea of war, with a desperate central question that eventually morphs into a kind of conviction: “There’s got to be more to this than that.”

    The cross-generational nature of the song’s inspiration keeps it from feeling overly particular to our current moment, which in a way impedes the resonance of what the song is trying to say. At the same time, its clear yet understated production and consistent guitar strums lend “Waiting on a War” a feeling of wistfulness and speculation, which feels appropriate to a song about helplessly beholding the idea of a dark future.

    Them Balloons Are Pretty Big: Medicine at Midnight found its way onto a few year-end lists, including Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2021, but didn’t collect any awards or major nominations. One distinction it does hold is being the first Foo Fighters album to have a horror-comedy movie coming out along with it: Studio 666, a February 2022 release that fictionalizes the making of the album inside a haunted Encino mansion. The band did create the album in this mansion, where they recall encountering some unexplainable phenomena; the movie dramatizes these events and adds the bonus angle of Dave Grohl being possessed by a supernatural force.


    When I Sing Along with You: Medicine at Midnight is Foo Fighters’ first full album since 2017, and in the intervening years, the political turmoil with which Concrete and Gold tried to contend has only deepened (on top of the global pandemic that pushed this album’s release back from 2020). The album explores some real moments of heaviness and trepidation, but it also both starts and ends with fierce, glimmering rock songs that convey a sense of victoriousness that feels like it lives somewhere attainable.

    The album is punctuated by intriguing riffs on “Cloudspotter” and “Holding Poison,” and bolstered by insistent, high-energy rock in “Making a Fire” and “Love Dies Young,” but it may actually be “Chasing Birds” that offers the clearest synthesis of what the album is trying to do.

    Over the soft course of the song, the phrase “chasing birds” evolves through a meandering feeling of listlessness, eventually into an identification with triumph and striving to reach new heights. This feels true to the ultimate character of the album, which seeks to encourage its listeners to power through resignation and see what might wait on the other side.


    Medicine at Midnight is a tighter album than its predecessor, and at times it even feels more hopeful, if only because its wisdom makes that hope slightly easier to access. Stylistically, it isn’t a particularly groundbreaking album for the band, but it’s a classic encapsulation of their sound, and it shows a solid and well-considered development of themes in which they were already interested. — L.D.

    07. One by One (2002)

     Every Foo Fighters Album Ranked From Worst to Best

    Runtime: 55:11, 11 tracks

    Kudos, My Hero: The Foos started out with Adam Kasper, who had helmed 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose. After those sessions didn’t work out and the group took a break, they opted to return with Kaspar’s engineer Nick Raskulinecz, who’d formerly worked at the legendary Sound City Studios, in the producer’s chair, charging him with capturing more of the Foos’ live concert energy in the recordings.

    The Best of You: Grohl and company have always been creative rocketeers, and they steer down a number of welcome fresh paths on the group’s fourth studio album. But it’s a straightforward rock anthem, “Times Like These,” that stands out. Inspired by some of Grohl’s doubts at the time about the status of the band — but ultimately optimistic, declaring “I’m a new day rising/I’m a brand new sky” — it’s wrung through with emotion as urgent as its galloping tempo.

    The Pretender: It’s a stretch to really call something “the worst” on an album that, despite issues the band encountered in making it (see below) is strong front to back. So let’s, reluctantly, put the tag on “Lonely as You,” a fairly straightforward relationship kiss-off that goes the same sonic places as a lot of the other songs here, only without the same kind of payoff.


    Stacked to the Rafters: That would be “All My Life,” which only hit No. 43 on the Hot 100, but climbed to No. 5 on the Active Rock chart.

    Them Balloons Are Pretty Big: One by One hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and was No. 1 in the UK. It also snagged a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, and a nomination for “Times Like These” (Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal).

    When I Sing Along with You: Foo Fighters had plenty of momentum going into its fourth studio album. The group was coming off a trio of platinum albums, and its predecessor, There Is Nothing Left to Lose, won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album as well as spawning the Foos’ biggest hit to date, “Learn to Fly.” But One by One did not come easy.


    The group, which had just added guitarist Chris Shiflett to the ranks, was battling a degree of burnout and internal combustion. Drummer Taylor Hawkins in particular suffered a heroin overdose during August of 2001 and went into recovery mode, while Dave Grohl was playing drums for Queens of the Stone Age. Grohl and bassist Nate Mendel were also at odds.

    The first batch of recordings, done in Virginia and Los Angeles, were ultimately abandoned (“far too clean, too tame and boring,” Grohl told NY Rock), despite the Foos spending $1,000,000 on them. Only the Nirvana-esque “Tired of You,” which featured Queen’s Brian May as a guest, would make it to the ultimate release.

    After a break to work on other projects, the feuding quartet caught fire again at the 2002 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and decided to get back to the studio, this time working primarily with Nick Raskulinecz as co-producer. The results were harder-hitting — the group’s heaviest album yet, really, leaving the change-of-pace softer touches of There Is Nothing Left to Lose in the dust. It was as if the angst of the prior months was being channeled into the playing, and how the songs would fit in a live show being was taken into account throughout the process.


    One by One boasts the earnest temperament of its predecessors, but still bristles with charged energy and even a sense of renewal. The throttle goes down right away with “All My Life” and continues through “Love,” “Have It All” and “Times Like These” before the trippy textures of “Disenchanted Lullaby” offers a bit of sonic relief.

    “Halo” and “Overdrive” revel in smooth pop shimmer, and “Come Back,” weighing in at nearly eight minutes, closes the set with a grunge-psychedelic pastiche, with some sweet vocal harmonies from Grohl and Shiflett. The last words on One by One are a declaration that “I will come back,” which by that point feels more like a welcome promise than a threat. — Gary Graff

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