The Ten Best Unpopular Rock Songs
You just bought a rock and roll CD. Shinedown, Iron Maiden, maybe Soundgarden or All That Remains. Maybe even Journey. You listen to the album for a couple of days and wonder wow, why don't I hear this song on the radio stations? Why isn't this song popular? Some of each band's greatest songs are actually the ones that we never hear unless we are devoted to music. Here is my list.
Night Prowler by AC/DC
From the opening drag of Bon Scott's cigarette, to the insane blues work by Angus Young, Night Prowler has the goosebump obtaining qualities that pushed it to the top of my list. The lyrics are dirty, the guitar playing was raunchy before raunchy was even a style, and the beat is nice and slow. It paints a picture in your head, making you think you are the one walking down a dark alley in the wrong side of town.
Maggotbrain by Funkadelic
One of my favorite "Pink Floyd Knockoffs", as my mother would say, off the album with the same name. The opening lyrics kind of put a disturbing picture in your head, but when the electric guitar begins, it takes you on a weird journey, maybe one from the acid loving 70's. The quality of scales, bends, effects pedal use, and timing changes just bring this song to life. Few have even heard of Funkadelic - I was included on that list until a good friend gave me his book of CD's for a day.
Ain't No Sunshine by Zakk Wylde
Here is another song I didn't know existed until about a year ago. Covered from the original by the great blues player Bill Withers, this version covers it all. Let's not even mention the disturbing and hilarious music video, captured in the picture. It tells a story about a chicken, harassing a female unicorn in a bar. Then, the horse, played by Zakk, steps in and basically whoops the chicken. We all know Zakk's style, so there is plenty of great solo work in this song, but the thing that got me was his range and ability to sing in the blues style, with that raspy, low, howling voice.
Wicked Game by Corey Taylor
Another cover song, this time taken from Chris Issaak. Corey's ability to make this song sound like Stone Sour wrote it is remarkable. Of course, as it is in his style, he nails the high notes that need to be there in the lyrics. Corey always has a way with putting soul into a song, no matter what kind of song it is.
February Stars by The Foo Fighters
Here's a good mix up to the list. February Stars is a very emotional song, often being played only on an acoustic guitar or piano live. The lyrics in this song can be taken so many ways, but that's the joy of music - everyone will think the song is meant for them, no matter what the situation. To me, this song tells a story of a person searching for something for so long and so hard in their life. It consumes their entire being, and when they finally find it, at approximately 4:20 seconds into the song, the build up and powerplay completly supports and surrounds the feeling.
This is War by Smile Empty Soul
This song isn't played much for obvious reasons. There's a bit of vulgarity in the lyrics. It tells a story of a hard working, war fighting individual who stops at nothing to achieve success. The amount of detail you pick up from the lyrics, without clearly saying the details, is amazing - it paints another picture, which as you can tell is important to me. The low, slower tone really puts the song into a serious mood. It makes you feel more and more each time you listen to it that our Soldiers all over the world are the hardest workers alive.
House of Broken Love by Great White
This song scored low on the list only because there have been a few times that I have heard it on the radio, but it made the list because it has only been very few times. Another raunchy blues riff, amazing solo work, bends, and scales, and ear shattering high notes lyrically set this song apart in the 80's hair metal songs. It's almost as if a woman is singing the lyrics, with such emotion thrown into the tone that it really seems like a heartbreaker. One of the other things that sets this apart is the lead guitar runs layered on top of the verses in between lyrics, which wasn't always popular in the 80's. There was a certain spot for solos, and it usually worked, but here, it just adds another bluesy trick that bumps it up.
Excess Baggage by Staind
A wonderfully hiden song off of their greatest album, Excess Baggage is another emotional song. When you think of the meaning, you get the title - excess baggage. It tells a story of trying to put everything you have into a loved one but having so much attatched to you that it drags you down and makes you want to give up. Aaron Lewis does a great job at setting the tone and mood with his singing style, as well as the writing ability in the guitar work of this track. And, of course, who doesn't like leaving a CD on for almost 15 minutes, thinking it's over, and finding this song that you had no idea was there?
River of Deceit by Mad Season
Not a lot of people know that Alice in Chains singer Layne Stayley was the frontman for another band, Mad Season. Not a lot of people realize either that the intro music to this song was borrowed by Kid Rock either for one of his mix tracks. Mad Season, and especially this song, was completely different than the styles of AIC. It reminds me more of the slower Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots tracks, which makes sense. Layne wrote every part of this song top to bottom, and did a great job, especially making the guitar part almost sound like it could have been a country song if Garth Brooks sang it instead. Good thing he didn't.
We All Die Young by Steel Dragon
Not too many remember Marky Mark as a rockstar in 2000, playing on the silver screen in Steel Dragon. This song makes it for one reason alone - it has every mood that you expect in one album. It starts as a soft, mellow ballad, switching to a very heavy breakdown and verse, then to a more steady rock ending. The rhythym guitar played by Zakk Wylde, including his signature squeals, really gives the raunch factor to the heavier parts. The range of vocals in the song is equally as amazing, going from low to high quickly and sounding very growly when it needs to. The solo could have used some work in the recording process, which is why this landed at number 10. Something like that could have been faster and heavier over the slower, more moody background music.
From AC/DC to Zakk Wylde, this list has it all in my opinion. Night Prowler tops the list for the most obvious of reasons as stated. Music can't just be a bunch of jokers playing instruments and singing haphazard lyrics - it has to catch you with a mood and a feeling and bring you in for a journey. It has to take you on a ride, whether it's a slow walk through the rain after a breakup or a highspeed chase after a breakup. Every song means something different to the person sitting next to you, but it won't work if it means nothing to anyone. All 10 of these songs that aren't heard much anywhere are those types of tracks.