23 Of The Best Rock Songs Of The 2000s

Written by Dan Farrant

The 2000s brought us some of the greatest and most popular rock songs ever. From soft ballads to hard rock bangers, artists expressed their emotions, provided social commentary, and more through rock music, highlighting how incredibly diverse and creative that decade in the music industry was.

Read on as we take a closer look at 23 of the best rock songs of the 2000s and what made them instant classics and fan favorites to this day.

1. “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” By Green Day

Up first, we have “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day. There’s no way anyone alive in the 2000s hasn’t heard this song, at least in passing. The lyrics delve into feeling alive but ultimately being alone on a lifelong journey.

After being released in 2004, this song swept radio stations and playlists alike, gaining a mainstream following for Green Day. It received Record of the Year at the 2006 Grammys and remained #1 on Mainstream Rock Tracks for 14 weeks.

Not only did “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” top the charts, but its accompanying music video also received acclaim of its own. The music video bagged six awards at the 2005 MTV Music Awards!

2. “Bring Me To Life” By Evanescence 

From the breathy soprano to the background screamed vocals, “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence is a pop culture icon back in the 2000s. With lyrics about waking up to obvious truths that have been overlooked, the singer emphasizes the feeling of coming back to life from a period of numbness.

After its release in 2003, “Bring Me to Life” almost immediately climbed to the top 10 charts in 15 different countries. It also peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and even peaked on Christian rock charts as well, proving its accessibility to a wide audience.

3. “Mr. Brightside” By The Killers

Next up, we have “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. This fusion of a rock song and a power ballad is guaranteed to get stuck in your head. The lyrics paint a picture of jealousy and paranoia in relationships, making it a relatable hit for audiences, both young and old.

This crowd-pleaser ended at the 10th spot on the Billboard Top 100 list. By 2016, the song had reached 3.5 million sales. In addition to its numerous accolades and chart-topping statistics, “Mr. Brightside” was the 6th most downloaded song on iTunes in 2005 and has spent years on the tops of the charts. 

4. “Seven Nation Army” By The White Stripes

With its notable guitar riff, “Seven Nation Army” was The White Stripes‘ “career-changing hit,” in the words of Rolling Stone. The song is about the singer’s dislike of fame and his need to remain off the map on a personal level.

At the 46th Grammys, this song won Best Rock Song, impressing mainstream media and critics alike. When Rolling Stone made the Top 500 Rock Songs of All Time list, “Seven Nation Army” reached the 286th spot.

Aside from its performance in the musical charts, “Seven Nation Army” is also hailed as a sports anthem and was featured in several sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

5. “Complicated” By Avril Lavigne

Released in 2002, Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” has distinctive guitar and vocals, instantly recognizable as the pop rock song that was played everywhere in the early 2000s.

Its lyrics deal with the frustration of people who pretend to be something they’re not, and Lavigne has stated that her inspiration is both in past boyfriends and female friends.

This song peaked on the US Billboard Top 100 at the number 2 spot, and it remained there for a solid 31 consecutive weeks. “Complicated” is Lavigne’s longest charting song and has been certified 3x platinum in the US. 

6. “The Middle” By Jimmy Eat World

The breakout song for rock band Jimmy Eat World, “The Middle,” is an upbeat rock song that hits right home to them. After being dropped by their previous label, the band was forced to self-finance their next album.

This song reflects how they felt at the time, as it’s about believing in yourself and pushing through hardships. The uplifting lyrics are highlighted by the chorus reiterating that everything will be all right.

Having received accolades for being a return to form for Jimmy Eat World, radio stations played this song alongside other classic rock songs from the time. It peaked at #5 on the Billboard Top 100, and it remains the band’s only song to break the Top 40. 

7. “How You Remind Me” By Nickleback

Falling between the alternative rock and power ballad genres, “How You Remind Me” is considered Nickelback’s signature song. The lead singer wrote it while in the middle of a fight with his girlfriend, and even though he didn’t intend it to be a revenge anthem, he recognized its potential.

This song peaked at the #1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2002. As the only chart-topper for Nickleback in the US, it received plenty of radio play. Additionally, “How You Remind Me” hit the top 10 in numerous countries around the world, making it a prime candidate for several end-of-decade charts.

8. “Supermassive Black Hole” By Muse

English rock band Muse has made a name for itself for incorporating varied musical styles and instrumentals throughout all of their work.

When “Supermassive Black Hole” was released in 2006, it immediately struck a chord with audiences with its crunchy guitar, catchy dance beats, and angsty lyrics about how a toxic relationship can drown out everything else. 

This song has been certified Platinum and has been featured in movies and TV shows alike, including the 2008 vampire romance movie Twilight. It has also been nominated for various awards in alternative rock categories. 

9. “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” By The Offspring

Next on our list is The Offspring‘s punk rock hit “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid.” This song features a unique, almost-manic guitar part that helps illustrate the song’s innate satire. The song discusses lying and manipulating people to get what you want, but it also paints that sort of success in a negative light.

“You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” peaked at #1 on Alternative Play’s Hot Modern Rock chart, where it remained for 11 weeks. Although it isn’t the only single of The Offspring to appear on this chart, it’s considered their most successful. 

10. “Californication” By The Red Hot Chili Peppers

A cautionary tale about Hollywood and its export culture, “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is an alternative rock anthem in the early 2000s that also has some indie rock vibes.

The song also shares the same name as its album, Californication, which is considered the band’s most commercially successful album, selling at least 6 million copies in the US and 15 million copies globally.

Beyond going 5x Platinum in the United States, “Californication” was certified platinum in Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Italy. It also topped the weekly charts in numerous countries while remaining the band’s most-known song.

11. “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” By Panic! At The Disco

Even though the musical style is instantly recognizable to most, it’s the music video for Panic! At The Disco’s hit single “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” that probably sticks most in your mind.

The song’s lyrics about people’s tragic flaws are well-illustrated in its strange yet captivating music video featuring a circus-themed wedding. The music video, in fact, won Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2006.

The song also peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is one of only two songs from Panic! At The Disco to reach the top 40. It was also certified 5x Platinum in the US and certified Platinum in many other countries.

12. “Kryptonite” By 3 Doors Down

Superman has inspired several songs over the years, most notably “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down. This song uses heavy guitar riffs and lyrics that questioned whether people would care if their hero suffered a breakdown.

“Kryptonite” is also among the first songs that the vocalist/drummer wrote—an impressive feat, as Brad Arnold was only 15 years old when he came up with such deep themes.

Despite its title, the song is far from the band’s kryptonite, as it did extremely well, considering it was their debut song. It remained at the #1 spot on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts for 9 and 11 weeks, respectively.

13. “Use Somebody” By Kings Of Leon

Among the most recognizable alternative rock songs in the 2000s, “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon‘s spot on this list is well-deserved. Dealing with the feelings of needing to be seen and having companionship, this song keeps it relatable for a broad audience.

“Use Somebody” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at the #4 spot, where it remained for an impressive 57 weeks. In addition to topping the charts in the US, it also had great commercial success in other countries, including Ireland, Germany, and Australia.

The song also won the Grammy for three categories: Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal, Record of the Year, and Best Rock Song.

14. “Yellow” By Coldplay

The next song takes the beat down a notch. Even though it’s still considered rock, “Yellow” by Coldplay offers a softer side of mainstream rock.

Chris Martin wrote the song after looking up at the stars one night. The lyrics profess the singer’s admiration for the love of his life. He had some difficulty coming up with a title, but ultimately the word “yellow” stuck with him.

After being released in 2000, this song won Best Single at the 2001 New Musical Express Awards. The song peaked at #2 on the US Adult Alternative Songs from 2000 to 2001 and had a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song in 2002, solidifying its success.

15. “Gives You Hell” By The All-American Rejects

Next up is a classic breakup anthem. “Gives You Hell” by The All-American Rejects fits perfectly into anyone’s playlist who hates someone in their life and wants them to know exactly how much better they are without them. Who hasn’t wanted to rub their success in a hater’s face?

The relatability of the lyrics and angsty, shouty vocals struck a chord with the mainstream, causing it to top the charts on the Billboard Adult Top 40 and Mainstream Top 40 charts. 

The popularity of the song transcended over the years, and in 2018, it was ranked fourth on Rock Sound magazine’s Best Breakup Songs list of all time.

16. “Miss Murder” By AFI

The next song, “Miss Murder” by AFI, is the band’s most popular to date. It peaked at the #1 spot on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay list and was certified Platinum in Australia.

If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering what the song’s about, you’re not alone! The lead singer has stated that the song is open to interpretation, and among the theories is that the lyrics detail Satan’s fall from grace.

Despite its lyrics, “Miss Murder” was included in the Guitar Hero franchise, solidifying its popularity. It also won Best Rock Song at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2006.

17. “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” By Fall Out Boy

The perfect anthem for many millennial teenagers’ angst and melodrama, Fall Out Boy‘s “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” is a rock song that remains relevant up to this day. The lyrics capture the feelings of frustration at seeing someone you love with someone else.

When it was released in 2005, the song started low on the charts, at the 93rd spot on the Billboard Hot 100. However, in the 11 weeks following, it rose to the #8 spot.

Its spot fluctuated on the charts off and on, some weeks losing traction and some gaining it, but ultimately it remained one of Fall Out Boy’s most famous songs.

18. “Last Nite” By The Strokes

With its straightforward lyrics and garage-rock-style guitar riffs, The Strokes‘ “Last Nite” was one of their first breakthrough singles. The lyrics detail the story of a man leaving his partner, who says she’s upset because he doesn’t care about her. 

Despite its simple message and heavy inspiration from Tom Petty’s song “American Girl,” this song grew in popularity almost immediately. It was placed in the top 5 of the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. As recently as 2021, the single still receives accolades, being categorized in the Top 500 charts.

19. “Teenagers” By My Chemical Romance

The next song on our list is “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance. The song is about seeing teenagers differently now that you’ve grown older. The lead singer, Gerard Way, has said that he was inspired to write the lyrics after encountering a group of teenagers on a subway.

With its jaunty guitar and its combination of punk, pop, and glam rock vibe, it’s a memorable song that’s relevant to both teenagers and young adults alike.

The song made it to the 63rd spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and it charted even higher in the UK, making it all the way to #9. It was also the fourth straight single from My Chemical Romance to make it to the top 10 on the UK charts!

20. “Numb” By Linkin Park

This list isn’t complete without an entry from the legendary American rock band Linkin Park. The closing track of their award-winning album Meteora, “Numb,” received praise for its lyricism and musicality.

The lyrics relate to anyone who grew up having difficulty living up to their parent’s high standards. With Chester Bennington’s signature scream and the catchy rap parts, “Numb” is among the most iconic rock songs of the early 2000s.

This song spent six consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Alternative charts in 2003 and 2004, making it at the top of its game for 12 weeks in total. As of 2022, “Numb” has also received one billion streams on Spotify, keeping it in the mainstream long after its release date nearly two decades prior.

21. “Here It Goes Again” By OK Go

Even if you don’t know the song super well, you’ll probably be familiar with the music video for OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again.”

It was one of the first viral videos on YouTube in 2005, featuring the famous treadmill choreography in a single take. The lyrics explain what it’s like to have a one-night stand and feel yourself starting to fall in love with the person in a repetitive cycle.

Although this song debuted 87th on the Billboard Hot 100, it rose to the 38th spot by the following week. Outside the United States, the song peaked even higher, most notably in Australia, where it reached the top spot on the ARIA Hitseeker’s chart.

22. “I Hate Everything About You” By Three Days Grace

Do you ever sit back and look at your life, wondering why you waste time on someone you don’t even like? Then you probably can relate to Three Days Grace’s song “I Hate Everything About You.” It’s a straightforward song that is exactly what its title describes.

Even though this song was the debut single from Three Days Grace, it enjoyed immediate success. It peaked at the 55th spot on the Billboard Top 100 and even higher spots on other charts, including 4th and 2nd on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks.

23. “With Arms Wide Open” By Creed

Finally, we have “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed. Partly a power ballad and partly an alternative rock song, Creed’s 2000 hit features relatable lyricism and an easy-to-listen melody.

According to the songwriter, this song was written when he found out that his wife was pregnant, and it was composed entirely at a soundcheck! It’s all about receiving your children as a father and has certainly proved relevant, even over time.

“With Arms Wide Open” enjoyed commercial success. It topped the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks for four weeks the year it was released. It was also certified 2x Platinum in the US and Australia.

Summing Up Our List Of The Best 2000s Rock Songs

Rock is one of the most diverse music genres, and the 2000s perfectly showcase that. So whether you’re in the mood for broody tunes, uplifting anthems, or anything in between, we hope this list has reminded you of your old favorites!

However, our list is far from complete. If there are any songs we may have missed, let us know. We’ll be sure to add it in for you!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.