The 20 Best Arena Rock Songs of All Time


Ex-Foreigner singer Lou Gramm has survived a lot — a rare brain tumor, all the usual rock ‘n’ roll excesses, a feud with ex-bandmate Mick Jones, his old band continuing to tour with a karaoke singer that’s replaced him — and lives to play another day. And that day is today, when the 62-year-old drops by City Winery [8 p.m./$55-$65] with his band to play solo tunes and a healthy batch of Foreigner hits. To mark the occasion, here’s a list of the 20 all-time best arena-rock songs: A slippery genre term, sure, but we’re talking the big, anthemic classic rock that always worked best in a hockey rink with giant speakers, Jumbotrons and 20,000 drunk, stoned fans, and like pornography, you know it when you see, er, hear it (hint: Foreigner’s on the list).

20. Eddie Money — “Two Tickets to Paradise” This song makes us happier than Eddie Money running a travel agency.

19. Night Ranger — “Sister Christian” Lets you know that no matter what, you’ll be all right tonight, and we all need that reassurance once in a while.

18. Peter Frampton — “Show Me the Way” In the battle between talk-box, vocoder and Autotune, talk-box wins.

17. .38 Special — “Caught Up in You” These dudes made a good decision to drop the stupid Southern rock and slicken it up for mass consumption.

16. KISS — “Strutter” KISS blows, but guess we can’t leave them out, so here’s one of their only tolerable songs (thanks mainly to Ace).

15. Ted Nugent — “Wango Tango” Ever notice how much the middle section of this song sounds like LCD Soundsystem’s “Watch the Tapes”…if James Murphy was a babbling idiot who crapped and pissed his pants to avoid the draft?

14. Bad Company — “Feel Like Makin’ Love” How can you wear tight white slacks like that and not feel like makin’ love?

13. Boston — “Don’t Look Back” It’s no surprise these guys were signed to Epic, because…epic. Those lighters at the beginning of the clip tell the whole story.

12. Blue Oyster Cult — “Burnin’ for You” Admittedly, this probably makes the list because it’s funny to watch Charles Grodin interview BOC about being Jewish, riding motorcycles onstage and playing “heavy metal” in the above clip, and because Buck Dharma looks like Ron Jeremy’s stunt double, but it’s still a great song and the most satanic song on this list.

11. Kansas — “Carry On Wayward Son” The lyrics scream prog-rock, but the riff screams arena-rock, and since we care fuck-all about lyrics, it’s arena-rock.

10. Styx — “Too Much Time On My Hands” Say what you will about Styx…really, go ahead, we mostly agree, but this song’s pretty unstoppable and marks one of the best uses of synths in the arena-rock arena.

9. Rush — “Tom Sawyer” One of the few classic arena-rock bands that can still sell out arenas.

8. Loverboy — “Turn Me Loose” Headbands are kind of a crucial element of arena-rock: They demonstrate you care enough to work up a sweat, and that fashion takes a back seat to properly bringin’ the jams.

7. Heart — “Barracuda” This song sounds as kick-ass and fresh today as it did when it first came out.

6. Billy Squier—”In the Dark” Is Billy Squier the most underrated, most underappreciated arena rocker of all time? Yes, yes he is, and we’ve put him as high on the list as we could while still being realistic.

5. Queen — “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” Lewis, Gilbert, Poindexter, Lamar, Wormser and Booger probably agree.

4. REO Speedwagon — “Take It On the Run” Still mad at these guys for sending REO Speedealer a cease-and-desist, but the song rules forevermore.

3. Foreigner — “Double Vision” There’s Lou Gramm! Top three’s not so shabby.

2. Journey — “Don’t Stop Believin'” Arguably the most emblematic, iconic arena-rock tune ever, but a) we’re beyond sick of it and b) Pat Benatar.

1. Pat Benatar — “Promises in the Dark” A hero among heroes. A song to destroy all songs, short out all Jumbotrons and bring all hockey rinks down in a heap of dusty concrete. Pat Benatar: Queen of the arena.

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