This article originally ran in 2017, but we’ve given it a big overhaul to cap off Foo Fighters Week. All week, we’ve been publishing interviews, lists, editorials and videos — it’s all things Foos, all the time. You can see everything in one convenient place here.
Rank and File finds us sorting through an exhaustive, comprehensive body of work or collection of pop-culture artifacts. This time, we sort through every Foo Fighters song and admire all the pretty colours and shapes.
Dave Grohl won’t go away. That’s a good thing. We like the guy. He’s friendly, he’s one hell of a drummer, and he loves rock ‘n’ roll. So much so that he’s managed to stand at the top of the genre for decades, and despite some major hurdles — you know, like losing Nirvana — he’s yet to miss a beat. He’s basically the closest thing Generation X has to McCartney.
With Foo Fighters, Grohl has become one of the most recognizable faces in not only the genre but the music industry. Nobody can forget his mug, and while some may attribute that success to his uncanny optimism, the reality is that his band is always in the charts whenever they have a new album. The kids just can’t get enough of the Foos.
Because of this, we’ve decided to rank every Foo Fighters song, including every song off their latest release, Medicine at Midnight. Naturally, there are the usual caveats: No songs are included that have only been released in demo form, and no covers will be found here. We learned a lot about the band in the process, but most noticeably these three items:
— Grohl knows how to pick a single.
— Foo B-sides are B-sides for a reason.
— This band’s highs are as high as any other artists’ highs. High!
Scroll to the end for a playlist of every track (with two exceptions, they’re just that rare), and enjoy this long road to… success! We were certainly “exhausted” when all was said and done, but “big me” to talk about it. Here’s the best, the best, the best, the best of…
146. “Cold Day in the Sun”
In Your Honor (2005)
Oh, don’t get so up in arms. Something had to go here. And if we can be perfectly honest, it’ll be a cold day in hell before we feel the need to revisit “Cold Day in the Sun.” Everything we love about the Foos has been sanded down, polished up, and neutered three times over. This song should be playing in a hammy movie montage of people over-enthusiastically shopping for pants and sweaters in chain department stores. If that’s the demographic Hawkins and Co. were aiming for (the khaki contingent), they nailed it. — Matt Melis
145. “Walking a Line”
One by One Special Limited Edition (2002)
Proof that a bonus isn’t always a good thing, this One by One bonus track can be filed under “too much of a bad thing.” Forget the painfully strung-together clichés or the tedious repetition that make the song play three days over its actual runtime; a rock song that agitates a bit can be a good thing, but this B-side is the equivalent of a fly you just can’t swat away, one that keeps buzzing you “over and over and over again.” Sorry if anyone reading danced at their wedding to this song. That’s your problem, not mine. — M.M.
144. “The Line”
Concrete and Gold (2017)
Concrete and Gold’s most forgettable song stands out for the wrong reasons: It disrupts the paisley-fringed sonics for a bizarre detour into big, ‘80s guitar jangle like it mistook the Psychedelic Furs for actual psychedelia. It’s big and plodding, of course, but it doesn’t really belong, nor would it add much to any other Foos record either. Maybe a cell phone commercial. — Dan Weiss
143. “The Feast and the Famine”
Sonic Highways (2014)
The cruel joke of the Foos’ tribute to the D.C. hardcore movement of Grohl’s youth is how thin it all sounds. Even when the members of his old band Scream join in for the shout-along chorus, their voices are buried so low in the mix that the song never achieves the scene-power Grohl is so fond of singing about. — Dan Caffrey
142. “Medicine at Midnight”
Medicine at Midnight (2021)
The title track of Medicine at Midnight is an ode to the late ‘70s, and it feels specifically made for a mid-period piece movie montage, perhaps with a choreographed disco sequence sandwiched between neon-lit night drives. Like lead single “Shame Shame,” there is deliberate restraint from Foo Fighters, and while the quiet vocals, expressive guitars and layered harmonies work in their favor, “Medicine at Midnight” still comes across as a bit general. — Paolo Ragusa
141. “Word Forward”
Greatest Hits (2009)
Grohl’s eulogy to a dead friend has moments of emotional resonance, which soon get sapped by the repetition of the awkward title pun. — D.C.