Top 25 Artists With Deepest Lyrics

As voted by UG community...

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This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the lovely people of UG community discussing the matter of bands and artists with deepest lyrics.

We received quite a few votes and close to 750 comments, all of which were summed up into a Top 25 rundown.

Before kicking things off, honorable mentions include:

  • Type O Negative
  • Massive Attack
  • Henry Rollins
  • Soundgarden
  • Converge
Additionally, notable prank votes include:
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Rebecca Black
  • Anal Cunt
  • Austrian Death Machine
With all that out of the way, the list awaits below.

25. Neil Young

Notable line according to UG community:

It's better to burn out than to fade away

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24. Metallica

Notable lines according to UG community:

Soldier boy, made of clay
Now an empty shell
Twenty-one, only son
But he served us well
Bred to kill, not to care
Do just as we say
Finished here Greetings, Death He's yours to take away

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23. Björk

In the words of our very own N-D, "All of her lyrics are like personal puzzles..."

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22. David Bowie

TaV0 noted: "Just listen to his last album, 'Blackstar', all the lyrics are deep, and when you consider he died just a couple of days after the release, songs like 'Blackstar', 'Lazarus,' 'Girl Loves Me', 'Sue' and 'Dollar Days' become eerily deeper."

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21. Joy Division

Notable lines according to UG community:

To the center of the city where all roads meet, waiting for you,
To the depths of the ocean where all hopes sank, searching for you, I was moving through the silence without motion, waiting for you, In a room with a window in the corner I found truth.

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20. Nick Cave

Notable track according to UG community: "The Mercy Seat."

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19. Nine Inch Nails

Wiencon noted: "I love how 'Everything' has very upbeat tempo and it creates somewhat happy tone of the song but lyrics are pretty dark. Funny how most people don't get it at all and call it one of worst NIN tracks just because it doesn't sound sad and doesn't contain the F word."

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18. Jeff Buckley

Notable track according to UG community: "Mojo Pin."

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17. The Smiths

Notable lines according to UG community:

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt As the flames rose to her roman nose And her Walkman started to melt

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16. The Doors

In the deep words of boredend, "Jim wrote some pretty deep shit in my opinion."

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15. Tom Waits

Notable track according to UG community: "Bad As Me."

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14. Opeth

Notable lines according to UG community:

Lullaby of the crescent moon took you
Mesmerized, its kaleidoscopic face Granted you a hollow stare Another soul within the divine herd

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13. Johnny Cash

This week's Lucky 13 is the almighty Johnny Cash. Even the songs he didn't write, he made 'em his own...

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12. The Cure

In the words of rodrigo.mij1990, "If Robert Smith is not the closest thing to a contemporary Nietzsche then I don't know what he is."

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11. Simon and Garfunkel

Notable lines according to UG community:

In the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more, people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, people writing songs that voices never share

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10. Rush

Maiden95 noted: "'The Garden' will forever be one of my favorite Rush tracks and arguably my favorite Rush album closer. Think about it, that might be the last track in the Rush discography. And with lyrics like that how much more perfect could you ask it to be?

"I've thought that since I first listened to it. In Neil's new book he closes the last page with the passage:

"'The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
So hard to earn so easily burned
In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect
(It's a measure of a life) The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect, The way you live, the gifts that you give.'

"Fucking brilliant man."

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9. Gojira

Notable track according to UG community: "The Art of Dying."

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8. Pearl Jam

In the words of MrDawson, "They do have a song named 'Deep,' so yeah."

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7. Bob Dylan

Recommended by UG community: this interpretation of "All Along the Watchtower."

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6. The Smashing Pumpkins

Notable album according to UG community: "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness."

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5. Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree

Notable lines according to UG community:

And I may just waste away from doing nothingBut you're a martyr for even less

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4. Radiohead

Notable lines according to UG community:

You are not to blame for
Bittersweet distractors
Dare not speak its name
Dedicated to all human beings
Because we separateLike ripples on a blank shoreIn rainbows

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3. Alice in Chains

Notable lines according to UG community:

Roses in a vase of white
Bloodied by the thorns beside the leavesThat fall because my hand isPulling them hard as I can

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2. Tool

Needless to say, "Wings"...

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1. Pink Floyd

At the throne of UG this week, with a fair-n-square gold medal, give it up for Pink Floyd!

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162 comments sorted by best / new / date

    GameSkate
    With Waits and Cave so low and without any fucking sign of Leonard Cohen, this list is wrong.
    Maiden95
    I mean zero disrespect to Alice In Chains here, because I think they are great but not only do I think Cohen should be on this list, he should be where they are. Honestly you could swap AiC and Neil Young and I'd be okay. I think it's great we have these every week, but the lack of Cohen and the almost lack of Neil Young is telling of the site.
    conarmenti
    I think with a more guitar based community geniuses like them tend to rank lower; to be honest I'm impressed both of the made it
    max.venediktov
    metallica ? deepest lyrics ? seriously ?
    Abacus11
    Yeah, I was a little surprised to see Metallica but they're really popular around here. James Hetfield's written some good lyrics and some could be considered pretty deep but most of their best lyrics were on Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All. A lot of Metallica lyrics have been pretty cringe-worthy since the 90s.
    vivekjha25
    In my experience half the people who rant about the absolute failures that Load and Reload are, haven't even given it a listen. Imitating sheep never helped mankind
    Izzy-Sweet
    This week, UG goes goth... and I'm all for it! Any list that involves The Cure is a good list to me.
    Abacus11
    I was pleasantly surprised to see The Cure make the list and they definitely deserve it.
    Badmotorfingers
    2deep4me
    Maiden95
    Hey thanks for using my comment on Rush! Glad they cracked Top Ten. Neil Young should be way higher though.
    Eferre
    So as an example of Smashing Pumpkins' deep lyrics, UG has selected the track "Mellon Collie" ... an instrumental
    logicbdj
    I would also vote for John Lennon. After all, he said "I killed Paul" and people are still talking about it 50 years later.
    Agent 00Awesome
    The band Every Time I Die have some really awesome lyrics too. Not necessarily deep, but really well written and full of wit.
    intothevoid95
    One of the best bands to ever do it IMO and Keith is my favorite lyricist. Perfect mix of depth, meaning, and catchiness (meaning they're easy to shout lol).
    vppark2
    Dude, can't wait to see them on the Beartooth tour. This new album is going to kick ass all kinds of ass.
    TheBigDirty716
    Fuck yes! Their shows funbonkers and their albums keep getting better and better.
    vppark2
    Oh yeah. What's your opinion on the other bands tho? I know, it's strange to see ETID opening for a younger band, but Beartoorh have gotten pretty big. I just think Caleb's performance is inconsistent. Plus idk why they play in Drop C#, but it annoys me. Fun show as always though. I saw them headline over Stray from The Path, one of my other favorites so that was weird to see too lol. Fit For A King are pretty good too btw.
    intothevoid95
    I like Beartooth but they seem like ETID light. I might just wait until they do a headliner and catch them then. I saw them on the co-headliner with The Ghost Inside and their set (ETID's) was maybe the best I've ever seen. A true force of nature
    TheBigDirty716
    Honestly I haven't checked them out yet. All the bands they tour with are worth listening to, but none of them come close to ETiD's intensity live. As for Drop c#, Andy said it best,"It's about the riff". I dont think Drop tunings are good or bad, some bands just rely on the them too much to attain a heavy sound.
    vppark2
    Drop C# isn't even that low dude lmao try anything below Drop A# then I'd understand your argument. It really has to do with the music too. Bands like Issues, TesseracT, Glass Cloud, Reflections, Periphery, and I suppose Northlane and Knocked Loose all pull off the insanely low tunings well to go with the music behind it and not just playing binary code breakdowns the entire song like most deathcore bands tend to do. I'm a much bigger fan of playing in higher tunings myself though. I stay in Drop C a lot. If that's low to you then you really haven't explored much. I was only wondering why they play in Drop C# live when in studio it's in C. It throws me off a bit.
    TheBigDirty716
    Hahah.. You're right! It's not that low!! LMAO. I hope I see you at the Beartooth show, bro! We could say band names to each other, and bro,whoever names the more bands that the other person doesn't know buys us shots! It'll be so hype!
    vppark2
    Lol I honestly would probably win then if you haven't heard of any of the bands I listed. Forgot to mention the one in my avatar too, Solent Planet. They tuned all the way down to Drop G# on the latest album. But you're around NY, right? I used to live in New England nearly my entire life. In Florida now giving it a shot to see if I'd like it here.
    banerjee.ushnish
    Thrice have some of the best and most intelligently crafted lyrics around. A real shame their musicianship and art is not more widely recognised. One of the best bands around at the moment.
    superzman
    I couldn't agree more. They are so varied from album to album and really let their musicianship shine. The lyrics are great and the composition is even better.
    Jazzmandtk
    Glad to see Radiohead on here. I think The Bends is their deepest/most emotional sounding record, Yorke really poured his heart out on that
    discodaz
    surprised bruce springsteen isnt on here...some decent shouts though.
    StrongLikeBull
    Can Pink Floyd do anything wrong? Will UG's random articles get any better? Will Gene Simmons ever shut up? Find out next time...
    dahctor
    Bob Dylan, who influenced more than just musicians for more than 5 Decades is not higher on the list? Nothing against the other great lyrics, but you could write a novel based upon his words.
    Shavard
    The man was even nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature, something I believe has only happened to authors earlier!
    SemiproSwami
    Jesus christ, where is Bruce Springsteen?? Come on, with songs like Thunder Road, Born to Run, Jungleland, Badlands, Something in the Night, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Racing in the Street, Nebraska, The River, My Fathers House, Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark, Brilliant Disguise, The Ghost of Tom Yoad etc. The man has made rich, cinematic, deep and poetic lyrics that go toe to toe easily with the greatest lyricist for 40 decades and he doesn't get even mention. Step up your game, community! I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy Now all them things that seemed so important Well mister they vanished right into the air Now I just act like I don't remember Mary acts like she don't care But I remember us riding in my brother's car Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir At night on them banks I'd lie awake And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take Now those memories come back to haunt me they haunt me like a curse Is a dream a lie if it don't come true Or is it something worse that sends me down to the river though I know the river is dry That sends me down to the river tonight
    TheLastStand
    I really cannot understand how springsteen has been overlooked, i cant think of anyone elses work who has affected me more than his lyrically. Also despite the fact i am a massive fan boy of all the bands ahead of dylan, there is no way that their lyrics even come close to his.
    intothevoid95
    I feel like Springsteen is one of the most misunderstood artists in music. With the exception of Keith Buckley he is my favorite lyricist. A lot of people think his lyrics are just New Jersey, cars, girls, and 'Murica. While there are touches of those things in there, the level of depth in his work is astounding. He paints pictures with his words in a way I'm not sure anyone else does. There is also an overriding sense of melancholy and discontentment to a lot of his work that I feel like a lot of people overlook or just don't see. Side note: I saw him in Philly last week (his longest North American show ever) and he is, at 67, one of the most exciting and (more importantly) sincere performers I have ever seen
    vivekjha25
    It may be that his image has become that whole 'murica thing. It can be a major turn off but I agree. Some excellent lyrics. But not my kind of music so it makes it kind of hard for me to play a full album
    primus182
    pink Floyd really ?
    fadetoblack16
    This community just has a massive hard on for them it seems
    N-D
    Just a bit late, but here's the rest of the list - a lot of less popular but great suggestions: John Lennon R.E.M. My Chemical Romance Elliott Smith A Perfect Circle Leonard Cohen Neurosis Modest Mouse Nick Drake Bad Religion Death Manic Street Preachers Protest The Hero Katatonia Peter Gabriel [Genesis] Anathema Counting Crows Bruce Springsteen The Mars Volta Einstürzende Neubauten Tears For Fears Mad Season Swans Self Defense Family Between The Buried And Me Brand New Insomnium Deftones Lamb Of God Slint Have a Nice Life [as well as Giles Corey] Pulp Killing Joke Incubus Sparklehorse Karnivool Circa Survive The Tragically Hip The National Death In June Arcade Fire I the Mighty At The Gates Pain Of Salvation Being As An Ocean Creed Pentagram Portishead Paul Kelly La Dispute Amplifier Van Der Graaf Generator Indian Summer City And Colour Sunny Day Real Estate Days Of The New 16 Horsepower Paradise Lost Matt Elliott
    vaarsivius1
    Seeing the Manics, Brand New, Neurosis and Nick Drake on there makes me incredibly happy. Bravo.
    InsanitySyndrom
    RadioHead, Alice in Chains and Tool too evidently
    vivekjha25
    Alice in Chains and Tool are fantastic bands. I am not much of a fan of Floyd or Radiohead, but again, fantastic bands. No reason to be a dick guys
    freedomfan01
    I quit smoking for about a month then picked it back up again and I remember hearing in my head after the first cigarette: "You do it to yourself, you do... And that's what really hurts. You do it to yourself." Lol damnit Thom Yorke
    KrikKiller
    They're legitimately a fantastic band, and their lyrics are one of their strongest points. If you've never taken the time to give one of their better albums a full listen, you're missing out.
    Artifracture
    Dude if Pink Floyd weren't somewhere in the top then the list would be invalid. Especially considering some of the other garbage on here.
    rufizonfire
    I wanted to see Nirvana's Territorial Pissings for the line "Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you" or even Rise Against's Hero Of War "We became friends, as we learned how to fight...."
    Artifracture
    It's artists, not songs. Plus that Rise lyric isn't deep... at all.
    rufizonfire
    I know it was artists (songs have been given as examples in the UG results above). Just a couple of lines I'll always remember that's all.
    TheFourMechanix
    Megadeth anyone
    vivekjha25
    Not really. Dave's lyrics have a very obvious political theme or random death/war related typical metal stuff
    thewrongsondi
    If Alice In Chains didn't make this list I would have completely given up on the UG community. Even better that they made the top 3. If you can listen to Dirt all the way through and aren't exhausted at the end you did it wrong.
    ehbacon
    why'd they pick Deep for Pearl Jam? imho it's one of their weaker songs lyrically. would've picked this one:
    banerjee.ushnish
    Im surprised Thrice is not on here, they are extremely articulate in their lyrics. Dustin Kensrue is easily one of the best lyricists around. Also would have liked to see NOFX on here, their lyrics are quite deep (believe it or not) in terms of social and political commentary delivered in an unorthodox and seemingly unintelligent manner. Metallica do have some good songs, but they have failed miserably on occasion too. Frantic - "My lifestyle determines my deathstyle. Frantick, tick tick tick tick tick tock..."
    braindamage828
    wtf Dylan
    Shavard
    Even if he isn't a band, he's been the inspiration to countless of generations of musicians. Pink Floyd is one of many examples.
    braindamage828
    i ment his singing. that shit was awful. maybe im just so used to the jimi hendrix remake. Pink Floyd is my favorite band so im happy to see them at the top
    qrEE
    My favorite band, the singer wrote about the existential horror of life when you know you're going to die young. He was born with a malfunctioning kidney that gave him a much shorter life span, and he only recorded 5 songs before passing away. Within those 5 songs he covered anxiety, depression, alcoholism, self-loathing, thoughts of suicide, loss of purpose in life, and the way that those things affected his mentality, his self-image, and the relationships of those around him. The best song of the bunch was about the place he found himself in mentally after he pushed all of the people who loved him away because he couldn't take being seen at such a low point. It talks about him wrestling with loving people but fearing that he's no good for them. It talks about his body deteriorating and his mind with it. It talks about suicide attempts and how pathetic he feels for having the desire to end his life, as well as talking about how nothing he's going through is unique, it's all textbook. Anyways it's the deepest song I ever heard simply because you can condense the song down to individual lines and so many of the individual lines are powerful statements on their own, and then the whole adds up to be better than the sum of its parts. Anyways here's the song - https://mothspitt.bandcamp.com/track/deer-bodie...
    highkingnm
    I would also add as an honourable mention Brand New (Jesse Lacey). Anything after their debut is genius lyrically.
    Abacus11
    I'm a little surprised to not see Deftones or Faith No More on this list. Really good list thought.
    rodrigo.mij1990
    I'd like to thank UG for using my coment, even though my nickname is as awful as fuck but anyway thanks!
    creepntom
    how Dax Riggs isn't on this list is borderline blasphemy wth
    dahctor
    I was going to submit Acid Bath, but no one here knows who they are. Excellent lyrics.