Over the past decade, rock music has continued to evolve and thrive, with a new generation of artists emerging and adding their own unique mix to the genre.
From the stadium-filling anthems of Foo Fighters and The Black Keys to the indie rock stylings of Arctic Monkeys and Imagine Dragons to the soulful sounds of David Bowie and Mumford & Sons, the 2010s produced a wide range of rock music that captivated audiences and helped shape the musical landscape.
Whether you’re a rock enthusiast or simply a music lover with diverse tastes, you’ll be sure to discover new music to rock on with this list of 23 of the best rock songs of the 2010s. Let’s start!
1. “Sing” By My Chemical Romance
First on our list is “Sing” by the iconic rock band My Chemical Romance. Released in 2010, “Sing” falls within the alternative rock genre, with elements of emo and pop rock influences.
The song has become an anthem of resilience, as its powerful message resonates with listeners seeking solace and inspiration. The lyrics highlight the power of music as a means of connection and empowerment.
In 2011, “Sing” took on even greater significance when it was re-envisioned as “Sing It for Japan.” This heartfelt adaptation was released as a charity single to raise funds for the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan that year.
“Sing” also marks a milestone for My Chemical Romance, as it is their first single that garnered significant listening in adult-contemporary radio stations in the US. It also topped the UK Rock and Metal singles chart and ranked #4 on Billboard‘s Hot Rock and Alternative Songs list.
2. “Radioactive” By Imagine Dragons
A unique blend of rock, alternative, and electronic music styles, Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” is truly a genre-defying hit. It was released in 2012 as the lead single from their debut studio album, Night Visions.
The song’s heavily distorted guitars, pounding drums, and atmospheric synthesizers create a powerful and gritty sonic landscape that forms the track’s backbone.
The song’s lyrics express a sense of power and resilience in the face of adversity. Lead singer Dan Reynolds’ emotive delivery brings these lyrics to life, infusing them with palpable energy and emotion.
The impact of “Radioactive” extends beyond its chart success, as it has received critical acclaim and earned numerous awards. It won Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards, Top Streaming Song at the Billboard Music Awards, and Choice Rock Song at the Teen Choice Awards—just to name a few.
3. “Revolution Radio” By Green Day
With its strong, angsty guitar intro and relatable lyrics, this 2017 hit by Green Day served as a rallying cry for fans. “Revolution Radio” captures the spirit of a generation seeking social change and sparking a sense of unity and defiance in the face of adversity.
“Revolution Radio” exemplifies a dynamic and energetic rock style that exudes the band’s signature punk rock roots with a touch of pop. It also showcases Green Day’s ability to deliver a powerful and socially relevant rock anthem that resonates with fans of the genre.
The song is part of Green Day’s 12th studio album, Revolution Radio, which received a positive reception from several music critics. The song “Revolution Radio” also peaked at #9 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock in the US and #6 on the UK Rock charts.
4. “Lonely Boy” By The Black Keys
The blues rock song “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys was released in 2011. The song’s catchy guitar riff, rhythm, bluesy vocals, and simple yet memorable lyrics make it a standout track in the band’s discography.
The music video for “Lonely Boy” is anything but ordinary or predictable. Shot in a single continuous take, the video features actor and musician Derrick T. Tuggle dancing exuberantly to the song’s infectious groove in the lobby of a motel.
The video went viral upon its release and contributed significantly to the popularity of “Lonely Boy,” becoming one of The Black Keys’ most recognizable and celebrated music videos.
“Lonely Boy” was also a commercial and critical success, reaching #1 on the Billboard Rock Songs, Alternative Songs, and Adult Alternative Songs charts. And not just that: it earned Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance in 2013.
5. “I Will Wait” By Mumford & Sons
Deviating from the styles of some of the songs on this list, Mumford & Sons takes a bluegrass approach to rock with their 2012 song “I Will Wait.” The song’s uplifting and anthemic sound, soaring harmonies, and unique banjo riffs have made it a fan favorite and a staple of the band’s live shows.
The lyrics of “I Will Wait” evoke themes of patience, devotion, and unwavering commitment. Frontman Marcus Mumford’s powerful delivery captures the emotional depth of the song, conveying the determination that lies within the words.
The song’s impact extended beyond critical acclaim, as it achieved significant commercial success. The song saw impressive sales in its first week of release, selling over 153,000 copies in the US alone. It also topped the US charts for Rock Airplay, Hot Rock and Alternative Songs, and the Adult Top 40.
6. “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” By Fall Out Boy
Also known as “Light ‘Em Up,” Fall Out Boy‘s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” is a dynamic pop metal song that seamlessly combines elements of pop punk, rock, and heavy metal.
“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” is among Fall Out Boy’s first songs after their four-year hiatus. While the lyrics could be interpreted as a song of vengeance, it’s actually about starting with a clean slate from a place of personal growth and resilience.
The track symbolizes the band’s own journey of reemergence, serving as a powerful anthem of embracing a new chapter. The song’s high-energy guitar riffs, catchy chorus, and lead singer Patrick Stump’s powerful vocals create a captivating song that makes it worthy of all its achievements.
The song peaked at #2 on the US Billboard Hot Rock and Alternative Songs and #7 on the Hot Rock Songs charts. It also ranked second on iTunes for the highest sales, selling over 162,000 copies in its first week.
7. “Renegades” By X Ambassadors
Created as a commercial partnership with Stellantis for the release of its Jeep Renegade, X Ambassadors‘ “Renegades” is an uplifting alternative rock song that transcends its commercial origins. It has become a widely beloved anthem of individuality, resilience, and embracing one’s true self.
The song opens with a distinctive handclap rhythm and infectious acoustic guitar strums. The song’s lyrics express a sense of adventure and rebellion, encouraging listeners to break free from societal expectations and follow their own path.
“Renegades” was a commercial success, reaching the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topping the charts in multiple countries. Its popularity also earned the song a Billboard Music Awards nomination for Top Rock Song.
8. “Highway Tune” By Greta Van Fleet
Initially introduced in an episode of Shameless, “Highway Tune” eventually debuted in the mainstream in 2017 when Greta Van Fleet released their first EP, Black Smoke Rising. The band has often been compared to the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin due to its similar blues-infused hard rock style.
The opening guitar riff in “Highway Tune” is reminiscent of the style of Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, Jimmy Page. Josh Kiszka’s impressive vocal range in this song also mirrors the soaring and expressive style of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant.
However, while Greta Van Fleet has undeniably taken inspiration from Led Zeppelin, they have also infused their own unique touch into their music. They bring a modern energy and enthusiasm to their sound that sets them apart as a new generation of rock, which is evident in “Highway Tune.”
Upon its release, “Highway Tune” quickly gained traction and propelled Greta Van Fleet into the spotlight. It peaked at #12 on Billboard‘s Rock Airplay chart and received Platinum certifications in the US and Canada.
9. “Blackstar” by David Bowie
Throughout David Bowie’s career, he continually reinvented himself, defying expectations and staying relevant in an ever-evolving musical landscape. Released just two days after his 69th birthday and his passing, “Blackstar” became a poignant farewell and testament to Bowie’s immense talent.
“Blackstar” embodies a fusion of diverse genres, incorporating elements of experimental rock, jazz, and art pop. Bowie’s distinctive vocals soar above the musical arrangement, delivering lyrics that touch upon themes of mortality, spirituality, and self-reflection.
The song’s enigmatic lyrics and introspective atmosphere take on an even deeper resonance in light of his departure, becoming a symbolic farewell from an artist who shaped generations of music.
“Blackstar” was met with positive critical acclaim upon its release, and it received two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. It peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot Rock and Alternative Songs chart and #78 on the Billboard Hot 100.
10. “Could Have Been Me” By The Struts
Released in 2014, “Could Have Been Me” by The Struts is an infectious and anthemic rock song that exudes energy and a rebellious spirit. The track became one of the band’s breakout hits, showcasing their distinct glam rock style.
Vocalist Luke Spiller’s powerful vocals take center stage in the song. Spiller’s performance evokes the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll frontmen from the past, combining elements of flamboyance, swagger, and raw emotion.
The song’s high-energy and infectious nature, along with its relatable lyrics about self-empowerment, resonated with audiences and quickly gained popularity. “Could Have Been Me” received significant airplay on rock radio stations both in the UK and in the US.
It peaked at #4 on the US Billboard Rock Airplay and #2 on the Canadian Billboard Rock charts. “Could Have Been Me” has also been featured in various media outlets and popular TV shows, further contributing to its exposure and recognition.
11. “Tongue Tied” By Grouplove
One of the most popular rock songs of the 2010s, “Tongue Tied” is an upbeat indie rock song from the American band Grouplove. Released in 2011, the song became a breakthrough hit for the band, garnering widespread acclaim and capturing the attention of music enthusiasts.
The song combines elements of indie rock, pop, and alternative genres, allowing “Tongue Tied” to transcend boundaries and reach a diverse audience. Its infectious pop melodies attract mainstream listeners, while its alternative elements resonate with this those seeking something new.
The song’s widespread appeal has catapulted it to the top of various charts around the world, peaking at #3 on the US Billboard Hot Rock and Alternative Songs. It was also certified multi-Platinum in the United States, reflecting its massive sales and enduring popularity.
12. “Ho Hey” By The Lumineers
Released in 2012, “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers is an upbeat folk-pop rock song with a somewhat petty background story. Lead vocalist Wesley Schultz revealed that the song was crafted with the intention of stirring up a response from apathetic crowds they encountered during their shows in Brooklyn.
“Ho Hey” showcases The Lumineers’ signature folk-inspired sound, characterized by acoustic guitars and foot percussion. The stripped-down instrumentation, along with the repetitive yet catchy “ho” and “hey” chants, create a sense of communal celebration and a shared experience among listeners.
The song also proved to be The Lumineers’ breakthrough hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Rock Songs chart for 18 non-consecutive weeks. It’s also their first song to be certified in the US, and it received multi-Platinum certifications in the UK, Italy, Sweden, and New Zealand.
13. “Little Monster” By Royal Blood
Next on our list is the stoner-rock alternative song “Little Monster” by Royal Blood. It is the first among firsts for the rock duo, as it is the lead single from their self-titled debut album.
Needless to say, the band had a great start, with “Little Monster” topping the UK Rock and Metal list and peaking at #8 on the US Rock Airplay chart. It also received a Gold certification in the UK, further solidifying its status as a standout track in Royal Blood’s repertoire.
“Little Monster” embodies the essence of stoner-rock alternative with its heavy and distorted guitar riffs, thunderous drums, and gritty basslines. The song draws influences from classic rock and grunge, paying homage to the raw intensity of grunge pioneers such as Nirvana.
The track’s lyrics delve into themes of inner struggles, self-discovery, and the allure of embracing one’s dark side. Combined with Mike Kerr’s raw and passionate vocals, “Little Monster” exudes an intense and captivating energy that resonates with listeners.
14. “Do I Wanna Know?” By Arctic Monkeys
From the opening notes, “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys captivates listeners with its haunting and bluesy guitar riff and a deep, pulsating bassline. The track combines elements of alternative rock, indie rock, and psychedelic influences, which sets it apart from typical mainstream rock songs.
“Do I Wanna Know?” explores the feelings of uncertainty and doubt that often accompany the early stages of a new romantic relationship. Frontman Alex Turner’s distinct vocal delivery, characterized by a mix of vulnerability and swagger, adds an additional layer of allure to the song.
The track’s commercial success was notable, reaching high positions on various charts worldwide. It became one of Arctic Monkeys’ biggest hits, peaking at #1 on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay and US Rock Airplay charts.
15. “Cough Syrup” By Young The Giant
First released in 2008 when the band was still called The Jakes, “Cough Syrup” was re-released in 2011 as a single in Young the Giant’s debut album. According to lead singer Sameer Gadhia, the song was written at a vulnerable time.
During their early days, they faced financial challenges and the uncertainties that come with pursuing a career in music. “Cough Syrup” became a symbolic anthem for the band, which also resonated with their fans as a testament to the pursuit of dreams in the face of adversity.
While the song garnered regular radio airplay in 2008, its re-release in 2011 saw a significant increase in popularity and chart performance. It peaked at #3 on Billboard‘s Alternative Airplay chart and #9 on the US Hot Rock and Alternative Songs list. It also received multi-Platinum certifications in the US.
16. “Heathens” By Twenty One Pilots
Written for the soundtrack of DC film series Suicide Squad in 2016, “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots is a genre-blurring song that blends elements of alternative rock, pop, and hip-hop, creating a dark pop-rock anthem.
The lyrics are an examination of outcast and fringe culture, touching on themes of isolation, judgment, and acceptance. In this sense, the song serves as a thematic mirror to the characters of Suicide Squad, who are outcasts and “heathens” in their own ways.
“Heathens” received considerable acclaim upon release. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2017, including Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Song Written for Visual Media.
The song also had impressive chart performance globally, topping the US Billboard charts for Rock Airplay and Hot Rock and Alternative Songs. It is certified Diamond in the US and received multi-Platinum certifications in Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
17. “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man
Grammy-awarded 2017 song “Feel It Still” falls under the psychedelic pop genre, which blends in elements of alternative rock, funk, and soul. Rock band Portugal. The Man created a hit with this infectious song, using a retro groove and catchy falsetto chorus with a distinctive vintage feel.
Despite its upbeat rhythm and vibrant sound, the lyrics deliver a socially conscious message. In their music video, the band cleverly incorporated an “easter egg” that allowed viewers to show their support for 30 different causes, encompassing a range of political and social issues.
However, upon its release, “Feel It Still” initially flew under the radar. Despite its slow start, the song ultimately proved to be a slow-burning hit, capturing the hearts of listeners around the world. It eventually topped Billboard‘s Mainstream Top 40, among many others, and reached the top 10 in at least 10 countries!
It also earned the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in 2018 and is among the 12 tracks in history to top at least six airplay charts.
18. “Pumped Up Kicks” By Foster The People
While “Pumped Up Kicks” by indie rock band Foster the People is often lauded for its catchy and breezy sound, its lyrics tackle a far darker subject. The song presents a narrative from the perspective of a troubled youth with fantasies of a violent shooting rampage.
“Pumped Up Kicks” is mainly categorized as an indie pop song, but it’s an intriguing blend of multiple genres, incorporating elements of alternative rock, pop, and even some elements of electronic music.
The combination of its genre-bending music style and thought-provoking lyrics has not only set “Pumped Up Kicks” apart in the music landscape but has also contributed to its enduring popularity and influence.
The song gained significant commercial success and critical acclaim. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and was a top 10 hit in several other countries. It was also certified multi-Platinum in the UK, Australia, and Canada.
19. “Failure” By Breaking Benjamin
Known for its post-grunge and alternative metal sound, rock band Breaking Benjamin released “Failure” in 2015 as a lead single from the album Dark Before Dawn. “Failure” represents the band’s triumphant return to the music scene following a six-year hiatus.
The long wait was worth it, however, as the song garnered much acclaim and success upon its release. It topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and remained there for nine weeks. It was also certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Among the biggest appeals of the songs is its dark yet relatable lyrics dealing with themes of regret and disappointment. With its heavy electric guitar riffs and distinctive metal rock energy, “Failure” delivers a powerful musical punch that perfectly complements its deep lyrical content.
20. “Something From Nothing” By Foo Fighters
Released in 2014, “Something From Nothing” is an alternative rock song by Foo Fighters that embodies the gritty and robust nature of Chicago’s music heritage.
The song is part of the band’s unique approach for their eighth studio album, Sonic Highways. The album was recorded in eight different cities across the US, with each song written and recorded in a different city and inspired by the local musical culture and history.
“Something From Nothing” was a critical and commercial success, reaching the #1 spot on several music charts in the US and receiving widespread airplay on rock radio stations.
The song is about the power of creativity and the ability of artists to create something out of nothing. The song’s narrator encourages listeners to embrace their own creativity and to believe in the transformative power of music and art.
21. “One More Light” By Linkin Park
A slower and more somber song from the iconic rock band Linkin Park, “One More Light” is the last song released by the band before the untimely passing of lead singer Chester Bennington.
Accompanied by softer, acoustic instrumentation, the track showcases Bennington’s powerful vocals as he delivers poignant lyrics about loss and hope, creating a lasting tribute to his incredible talent and the legacy of Linkin Park.
Despite not being a commercial single upon the album’s initial release, “One More Light” garnered significant airplay in its radio single format. The accompanying music video, which features several footage of Bennington, was nominated for Best Rock Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.
After Bennington’s passing the same year it was released, the song became an anthem of grief and resilience for both the band members and fans. In the wake of this tragedy, “One More Light” also became a poignant reminder of the importance of mental health awareness.
22. “High Hopes” By Panic! At The Disco
Initially created during the Broadcast Music Inc. writing camp in 2015, the pop-rock song “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco was released in 2018 as a single in their studio album, Pray for the Wicked.
Lead singer Brendon Urie co-wrote the song, and its upbeat sound, coupled with its positive and motivational lyrics about persevering through challenges, quickly struck a chord with listeners.
The song’s modern pop style that incorporates elements of rock and hip-hop delivers a powerful musical blend that reflects the band’s evolution and adaptability in the ever-changing music landscape.
Following its release, the song achieved remarkable commercial success. It reached #1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Top 40 and #4 on the Hot 100. It also won several accolades, including Top Rock Song at the Billboard Music Awards and Alternative Rock Song of the Year at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
23.“Take Me To Church” By Hozier
Considered one of Irish musician Hozier‘s signature songs, “Take Me to Church” is a powerful commentary on the destructive power of organized religion and the ability of love to overcome oppression.
The lyrics describe a relationship between two lovers who are facing ostracism from their community due to their sexuality. The narrator asks to be taken to church, not in the traditional sense of seeking salvation but of seeking refuge with his partner, away from the condemnation of the outside world.
The track draws on blues and gospel influences, with a blend of indie rock elements, creating a unique and dynamic sound that distinguishes Hozier’s artistry. The song resonated strongly with audiences worldwide, becoming a global hit.
“Take Me to Church” spent an impressive 23 consecutive weeks on the #1 spot at the Billboard Hot Rock and Alternative Songs chart. Its cross-over popularity was also evident as it reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The multi-Platinum song also received worldwide acclaim, receiving several certifications globally.
Summing Up Our List Of The Best 2010 Rock Songs
The 2010s were a decade of innovation and evolution for rock music, with artists breaking new ground and pushing the genre in exciting and unexpected directions.
Whether it was the revival of classic rock sounds, incorporating electronic and pop elements, or exploring new sonic and lyrical territory, rock music continued to captivate audiences and inspire new generations of fans through the years.
Do you have more to add to our list? Let us know!