“Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC

Top 10 Rock Songs About… Rock

Typically, writing a rock and roll song about rock and roll is a pretty lame move. It’s sort of like writing a poem about writing poetry. By virtue of the fact that we’re listening to a rock song we’ve pretty much established that we like rock already, so why the hard sell? I guess it is a nice break from songs about getting drunk or laid. Or both.

But like anything else, there are exceptions. Here are ten great rock tunes that extol the virtues of rock (just mentioning rock isn’t enough for this list). You can hear most of these (and more) on my Spotify playlist.

#10. “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II” by Kiss

Update an already excellent Argent tune, add some super-beefy Bob Ezrin production, throw in a sweet vocal harmony interlude, and what do you get? One of Kiss’s best latter-day songs, and one hell of a rock tune.

#9. “It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me” by Billy Joel

Almost as soon as rock and roll took off in America, it was clear that it was a game for the young. Billy Joel was barely in his 30s when he recorded this track, in which he defended his style of music against the up and comers of punk and new wave.

#8. “We Will Rock You” by Queen

It feels weird to hear this and not automatically move right into “We Are the Champions,” but even on its own this is a great rock song about rocking. STOMP STOMP CLAP indeed.

#7. “Rock of Ages” by Def Leppard

Long before its title was appropriated for that God-awful musical and movie, “Rock of Ages” was one of the ass-kickingest tunes from the summer of 1983. However, to this day I refuse to take part in the great Burning Out vs. Fading Away debate.

#6. “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” by Rick Derringer

Derringer wrote this for Johnny Winter, who thought it a little corny. And maybe it is. But there’s no denying the power of the song, at least Derringer’s solo version.

#5. “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60’s Rock)” by John Cougar Mellencamp

Inappropriate apostrophe usage aside, this loving look back at one of rock’s golden eras is one of the best cuts from one of Popdose’s favorite advice columnists.

#4. “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets

It may not be the best self-referential rock song ever, but it’s undoubtedly the most important. Nothing was the same after this one.

#3. “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC

Few bands have held high the torch of rock over the last several decades like AC/DC has. And while I’m not 100% certain of “Let There Be Rock”‘s historical accuracy, it’s one hell of a sermon by the Rev. Bon Scott.

#2. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” by AC/DC

They salute us for rocking? No, we fucking salute them.

#1. “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin

The mighty Led Zeppelin were never shy about showing their love of vintage American rock ‘n’ roll, and I can think of no better tribute than this song.


  • Mordalo

    No love for “Rock This Town”?
    Beach Boys’ “Rock and Roll Music”?
    “Rock and Roll Lullaby”?
    “Rock Steady”?
    I suppose “Rock Me Gently” would be pushing it.

    I think I’m gonna stop there before you throw a rock at me…

  • David_E

    No. You can’t stop. Can’t Stop The Rock.

  • Rock_dawg

    The Beach Boys’ “Rock and Roll Music”?
    While I like their version just fine (and the Beatles too), it’s gotta be Chuck Berry, if you want to dance with me.

  • Rock_dawg

    “I Wanna Rock” is a fine ode to the music of choice for blasting out of Camero T-tops.

  • PhilV

    I know it’s only Rock & Roll but I like it so put another dime in the jukebox baby….

  • Mordalo

    I started going through my music, and “B” came before “C”. Ergo, Beach Boys got the nod before Chuck (whose version I love as well).

    Just sorry I didn’t get down to the “T”‘s. I Wanna Rock was gonna end up here too.

  • Ned Massey

    The greatest song about rock music is “Alex Chilton” by The Replacements.

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    You know, you have a point.

  • Ned Massey

    The song isn’t specifically not about rock and roll and doesn’t have “rock” in the title (hard to top AC/DC or Zep track in that regard) but “Alex Chilton” totally sums up that feeling you had when you were a teen and heard a song, artist, or sound that absolutely DEVASTATED you. Confusion, elation, excitement. Like the first time I heard “Watching the Detectives,” “Thunder Road,” “Suffragette City,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” “London Calling” etc. Just being floored by something so new to your ears and so seemingly integral to everything you were feeling.

  • mikesensei

    I’d add Joan Jett’s version of “I Love Rock and Roll” and The Ramones’ “(Do You Remember) Rock and Roll Radio” — and I would most certainly subtract the Billy Joel song, which, like “Rock and Roll Lullabye”, namedrops the style without BEING in the style. At least to my ears. If I write a sonnet that celebrates haiku, the result is a sonnet, not a haiku.

  • Guy Smiley

    I get tired of the complaint that Billy Joel somehow “isn’t rock.” Fuck that.

    Just because he has a gift for writing great melodies, and has written lots of ballads, doesn’t mean he doesn’t rock. Rock doesn’t just have to only be blazing guitars (although Billy’s got songs with that too), and many of songs have just as much rock & roll sneer and attitude as any punk rockers, even if the music isn’t exactly the same.

    Of course, if we get right down to it, I’m not sure what makes that Ramones song you mentioned any more “rock” than Billy’s.

    Anyhow, I was happy to see “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” on the list. I am surprised “It’s Only Rock & Roll,” “Rock & Roll Music,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and a few others didn’t make the list.

    I’d certainly take the KISS song off the list (maybe it’s because I’m an atheist, but I always found it and the Argent song pretty stupid), and probably Def Leppard too.

    Where’s Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”?

  • Guy Smiley

    Whoops! I know Zeppelin’s on the list… I meant to say The Who’s “Long Live Rock,” and somehow had Zeppelin stuck in my head. Sorry!