Top 10 Greatest Punk Songs

See the final results of this week's poll to find the greatest punk rock songs ever.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
20

This week we asked UG readers to vote for the greatest punk songs of all time. After hundreds of nominations and thousands of votes, the results are in.

US punk bands have done well for themselves in this chart, which is great because American punk has been an integral part of rock culture. Still, it's a shame not to see more British punk acts when the country generated so much great music during this period. Democracy rules, though, and you'll probably agree the final list has plenty of good results.

We'll leave it to you to decide if the final top 10 is up to scratch in the comments. For now, hit play and get your air drums out: it's time to shave yourself a mohawk and listen to the greatest punk songs ever.

10. The Stooges "Search and Destroy"

How better to start than with what is arguably the original punk band? These guys were punk before punk was even invented. And then, when punk came around for real, the released albums like "Raw Power" to show their garage rock sound still had more attitude than a city has electricity. Iggy Pop mixed this track, you know - and in 1997 he teamed up with Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson for another more aggressive remix.

YouTube preview picture

9. Black Flag "Rise Above"

Check out this video to know what live punk in the 1980s was all about. Black Flag were like a condensed version of everything great about hardcore punk, from the sweat and compassion to the intensity of their social message. Bands like this wrote music that couldn't sell out by default, and their integrity will always be intact for it.

YouTube preview picture

8. Refused "New Noise"

When Refused released their 1998 swan song "The Shape of Punk to Come," they probably had no idea how true that would be. It became a template for post-hardcore acts, with their explosive sound being emulated off by hundreds of acts since. "New Noise" is only one bombastic example of what this album sounds like.

YouTube preview picture

7. Green Day "Longview"

Green Day's first major label single started life as a bass riff written by Mike Dirnt when he was on acid. "I was frying on acid so hard," he said. "Later, it took me a long time to be able to play it, but it made sense when I was on drugs."

YouTube preview picture

6. Suicidal Tendencies "Institutionalized"

Suicidal Tendencies' defining song was re-recorded in 1993 and won a Grammy - which sounds a little too mainstream for this list's punk attitude, so we're posting the original. It tells the story of singer Mike Muir and his run-ins with friends and parents. The funk elements were introduced by bassist Rob Trujillo, who of course is better known now as the Metallica bassist.

YouTube preview picture

5. Misfits "Astro Zombies"

Inspired by the 1968 film of the same name, this song appeared on their 1982 album "Walk Among Us" which was mostly compiled of older songs that were being re-recorded again. Eagle-eyed fans will notice a photo of the band in the album sleeve is of a 1979 version of the band lineup, with Bobby Steele and Joe Image instead of Doyle and Googy who perform on the album. There's a distinct echo of Black Flag's "Rise Above" in the intro, but it quickly dives into Misfits' awesome signature sound.

YouTube preview picture

4. The Clash "London Calling"

This list proves that "London Calling" is one of the defining British punk songs. Drawing influence from reggae on the baseline, Joe Strummer's frantic wailing is one of the most important moments in political music history. If you don't know what it's like to experience the dark side of London, this is it.

YouTube preview picture

3. Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK"

Frontman Johnny Rotten might be turning less and less likeable in his old age, depending on your opinion (with this apparently sexist outburst being a recent tipping point), but you can't deny he's going to be the poster boy for punk rock for centuries to come.

YouTube preview picture

2. Dead Kennedys "Holiday in Cambodia"

This single helped the band catch the attention of Polydor, but singer Jello Biafra threatened to leave the group if they sold out to the label. He didn't need to bother; they lost interest when they found out their next single would be titled "Too Drunk to F--k."

YouTube preview picture

1. Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop"

Ramones might not play aggressive punk like their musical brethren, but they took the garage rock sound of The Stooges and made it more fun and accessible than ever. The entire pop-punk genre owes its existence to this anthem, which says a lot about its impact on Western music. All together now: "Hay! Ho! Let's go!"

YouTube preview picture

That's the end of our top 10 greatest punk songs list, as voted by UG readers.

Actually, that's not quite the end. There was one song which won far more votes than the Ramones, or any other act on this list. Drum roll please ... Britney Spears, congratulations, you're the real winner of our poll with your hardcore punk track "Oops! I Did It Again." Come and collect your prize!

Of course, we all know that Britney's song is real punk, despite the fact we haven't included it in the final list. So let's just pretend these songs are just "those ten which are still below 'Oops! I Did It Again.'"

Let us know what you think of the final results, and how you would improve them, in the comments - and hit the Facebook 'like' button if you want to share the greatest punk songs ever with your friends.

Trending stories

206 comments sorted by best / new / date

    edensaffliction
    Absolutely no Bad Religion??
    RitchieRamone
    Social Distortion?
    Sleeping in
    Decent list, it would have been nice to see some Fugazi on here, however. Also... maybe I'm the only person... but although Blitzkrieg Bop kind of kicked it all of I definitely wouldn't put it as number one. That's just my own opinion though.
    MrDizzyEdge
    fugazi Was put up as my nomination, Minor Threat too. Ian MacKaye is such an important figure.
    rolandroi
    But UG always approves all my suggestions. My opinions seem to be one of their first priorities. Way to go! XD
    harry_jacko
    Honorable mention to... The Who - My Generation.
    JAHellraiser
    I was disappointed that song didn't make it, especially since it had been nominated a bunch of times. If The Stooges could make it for being protopunk, I think The Who would be eligible too.
    miserybusiness1
    I think you missed the "punk" part...
    hudsonstradlin
    early Who is considered Protopunk. if Mother Love Bone is considered grunge when they were kinda glammy, The Who could be viewed as punk, especially in their early days.
    whiplash944
    They definitely had the raw energy that you see and hear in punk
    Jagstang Cobain
    The who may not be all punk but My Generation sounds punk enough. I mean it has a simple energy filled riff and kickass attitude.
    jody97
    A lot of trolls in Pop Punk wed question, and a lot of votes and nominations in Punk Rock wed question, next Hardcore Punk please. You missed Bad Brains by the way
    ryrn182
    The ****ing DESCENDENTS. Seriously? No Descendents? Get outta here.
    rhn94
    Hmm, NOFX and Bad religion should have been there, but i understand, there are too many good punk bands to include in one list.
    guitarpro15
    Aren't most of these covered in Tony Hawk games?
    RitchieRamone
    THUG 2 - Ramones, Rancid, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Joy Division. Damn, that was one kick-ass soundtrack
    guitarpro15
    Oh man it does indeed. Anytime I hear a song from THUG 2 I get slapped in the face with nostalgia, haha.
    iommi600
    (gets angry like Samuel L. Jackson) FUGAZI MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU LISTEN TO THEM? (takes a deep breath and calms down) But really, Fugazi, man.
    vppark2
    Idk what's with the downvotes on real punk bands like this. I sense the Green Day fanboys here...
    mitch the kitch
    It's funny how every song, except the Clash one, are all on Tony Hawk's games but just not the same version as these.
    HardRock369
    I'm just going to go listen to Bad Religion and Bad Brains, you can have your list UG
    third(-)eye
    Not a punk fan, but decent list. Blitzkrieg Bop deserves #1. Holiday in Cambodia deserves #2. I'm glad Longview is on here too, despite the fact Green Day are trash now.
    Liamdarkcross
    What's Green Day doing here?
    rolandroi
    Agree. Bands like Green Day don't deserve to be mentioned on this "hipster-infested" site. It's pretty obvious, hipsters like you always generalize the band before the chosen song. Good Job.
    vppark2
    Hmm...well Green Day i far from more punk than bands like GBH or The Adicts who arent even on this list? Just a thought..
    lmo2th
    I know, it's not like they spearheaded the punk-rock rebirth in the 90s or anything...
    Rickmassacre
    eurgh,
    Mouloudo
    very american centered, punk IS british... and I'm not even british lol
    Redsectoreh
    Punk rock was born in the states. Sex pistols ripped off of Richard Hell.
    JelloCrust
    You are correct!
    karstaag666
    Probably influenced but REAL punk started in England. Remember, Punk is more than just a genre of music, there is a fascinating culture behind it too.
    Redsectoreh
    Define REAL punk...
    karstaag666
    Well you could define that punk started in the basement of a Sex shop in London where a bunch of people who were at the bottom of society used to hang out. The Bromley Contingent. Or you could say the kids who grew up in squats sniffing glue are the real punks. Youtube: 1983 Islington Squatter Punk Documentary. All Richard Hell did was influence the clothing of Punk. But if you think Punk is just clothing then you seriously haven't a clue about the true culture of Punk.
    Redsectoreh
    Yeah he definitely didn't the first punk anthem ever or anything like that. The fact that you dismiss Hell's contribution to punk rock shows that you know jack shit. I see you're from the UK so I can understand the bias, but give credit where it's due.
    samthemusicman
    I know people voted for these, but that is possibly the worst list I have ever seen, I mean a better clash song should have been chosen, there's nothing by the damned, the buzzcocks, stiff little fingers, the ruts etc. who should all be up there rather than ****ing green day or whatever. Personally for me there's far too much American stuff on this list and not enough British, which is where punk began and early on was at its best and truest.
    introvert10
    Maybe they'll have a "Best British Punk Song" poll and you'll get more British music. Who cares where the genre was originated? By this logic The Beatles (or early equivalent) would win every Rock n Roll poll, and Sabbath (or early equivalent) every Metal poll, etc... Why even have a poll if the first bands in the genre are the only ones you are allowed to vote for?
    DirtySapo
    the punk sound is more american than british although the best bands are british, remember proto punk bands like MC5, the Stooges, New york dolls, even the trashmen, and other garage bands
    Minimallamb
    One thing to concider, is that a lot of the punk bands in London in the 70s hadn't heard of many of the American bands at the same time. They all claim to be much more influenced by the DIY attitude of the pub rock scene
    diddyman99
    Greenday? Thought this was a punk list...
    Brandon1993
    I didn't know "Pop Punk" was considered Punk anymore.
    ohJeffrey
    Neither did I - Green Day isn't punk, you can like it all you want but it's Pop-punk.
    BOYERxBREAKDOWN
    Dookie is simply a punk record with catch melodies. Cry some more about how they are too successful to be considered a punk band.
    Brands99
    i dont understand why you guys hate Green day so much and consider them not punk. just remember its the Top 10 PUNK songs, the songs must be punk, not just the artist
    Rockeagle540
    Yeah, i mean, longview, a meaningless lo fi song about jacking off, thats punk enough for me
    symmetryerased
    Green Day really?
    RickyThomson
    Yeah. What Green Day did during the 90's allowed "punk" to reach more people. They rightfully deserve a track in this top 10 just for that. I'm not so much a fan of them today, but the Dookie years justify a place in this top 10.
    BOYERxBREAKDOWN
    Dookie is absolutely one of the best punk records of all time, definitely the best after the first wave of the 70's/80's.
    Rands2113
    You may not like them now, but 1994 was Green Day at their best! Amazing punk album, no denying that.
    N7Crazy
    A annoying amount of people here on UG seem to be completely unaware of any Green day material from before 2000...
    JelloCrust
    Still doesn't count. Always were kind of bleh. Dookie was alright, but lacking.
    duzit89
    i would have liked to see your album on the list.. but it lacked something as well...
    scrymusic
    Missing.... The Damned = New Rose TSOL = Code Blue The Buzzcocks = Ever Fallen In Love Fear = I Love Livin In The City Circle Jerks =Wild In The Streets Just A Thought....
    scrymusic
    Almost Forgot..... The Cramps - Garbage Man
    DaireBass
    I knew The Cramps wouldn't make the list even though they really deserve to.
    scrymusic
    They were rockabilly punk. they were part of the scene in the 70's during the rise of CBGB... you're right they should be on this list.
    N7Crazy
    Am I the only one who missed Nirvana? Breed? Territorial pissings? Downer? Very ape? They might be grunge, but remember grunge was a mixture of punk and 70's metal, and some of their songs were nothing but pure punk...
    tanooj2
    Good list. I would have liked to have seen Should I Stay Or Should I Go in there too.
    Nero Galon
    Having 1 song from each band is enough to make it fair. As much as how awesome The Clash were.
    miserybusiness1
    Specially when that band are no punk at all xD Well, they have some ska influences here and there...
    Nero Galon
    The Clash had a wide variety of sounds. Overall they were punk (to me), they had songs which would pass for a different genre but songs like Career Opportunities and Tommy Gun are definitely punk.
    Minimallamb
    Their first album was definetly punk, as punk started to die own, their style got more varied with songs like Londons Calling and Should I Stay Or Should I Go
    tukk04
    They may have had a sound that varied more than most but they were still punk and were part of that community at the time. If you look at the most well known bands from the first wave they don't sound like stereotypical punk bands because it was about the message, not the vessel.
    Punkhuskie6
    I would have put Longview in front of Institutionalized...but oh well.
    RitchieRamone
    Me too. It would also be nice to see some Bad Religion or Social Distortion up there.
    TFK_62
    Yeah, I was really hoping to see both here too. Probably my only gripe about this list.
    vppark2
    Yup...of course Green Day gets the majority of the votes. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
    miserybusiness1
    I would have put Longview far away from any best-of punk list since it's not really punk itself (and I'm a Green Day fan).
    RickyThomson
    I honestly think longview is a great song, if not one of their best (maybe borderline with basketcase). Any song from Green Days dookie days deserves a slot somewhere on a top 10 punk songs.
    Scarface88
    What's the general cosensus on Dropkick Murphys? Are they classed as punk or just not well-liked in the UG community? I'm not a huge fan myself, but I do like 'The Gauntlet' and maybe a couple of others.
    daken_1
    Stooges and the Clash shoulda been higher, but decent list all in all
    Animadantis
    Lol I really think they have a group of these bands ready and just do polls for shits and giggles, cuz as usual this list is garbage.
    WalrusNutFart
    I was being serious when I suggested Oops I did it again. You guys just don't understand. Britney is the only one that will ever understand. JUST LEAVE ME AND BRITNEY ALONE!
    howyjr
    Stranded by The Saints should be on here. Arguably the first "punk" band. A lot of the songs on this list I would not consider to be punk. Yes, punk is an image, but there is an undeniable sound to a proper punk song