Editor’s note: Advisory Editor Sooraj Rajmohan recently unearthed an old playlist of his favourite rock music. It led him down a rabbit hole from which he emerged, days later–exhilarated, triumphant and armed with a rebooted playlist that is even better than the original. Get ready to crank up the volume.
Written by: Sooraj Rajmohan, Editor, Advisory
Rock through the ages
Of late, I’ve found myself longing for the days when my age group was the target demographic for Bangalore’s popular pubs. When classic rock tunes blared over the speakers just as you made plans to call it a night, leading to another round of appetisers and a fresh round of conversation. This got me thinking how rock doesn’t feel as ubiquitous as before—in pubs or in pop culture—with ‘Levitating’ and ‘Blinding Lights’ topping playlists instead. In an attempt to hold on to fleeting nostalgia, here’s a playlist of my favourite rock songs, which includes the happy discovery of recent numbers proving rock is alive and well. Enjoy!
‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin: Let’s get the obvious pick out of the way. The intricate arrangement of this legendary track keeps picking up pace as the song progresses, combining with the surreal lyrics to provide a timeless listening experience. At nearly 8 minutes long, it is also a testament to a time when music didn’t have to bend over backwards to trend on Tiktok!
‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ by Kansas: people who love this song seem split down two camps, those who generally love the band, and those who’ve only heard this song because of its inclusion in the horror TV show ‘Supernatural’. This song ticks most of the boxes of good 70s rock, a melancholy mood, soaring guitar riffs, and quiet, introspective sections. Truly one for the ages.
‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ by Twisted Sister: This and the next track are 80s rock staples, and both included in the soundtrack of one of my favourite movies (and soundtracks) of all time—’Ready Player One’. It also has one of the most watchable music videos on this entire playlist :)
‘Jump’ by Van Halen: This song contains the unlikely combination of two of my favourite ingredients—awesome guitar riffs underpinned by the catchy notes of the synthesizer. This pairing gives ‘Jump’ a timeless aura that makes it hard to date, perfect qualities for a classic.
‘Faint’ by Linkin Park: The 2000s were probably one of the most transformative decades for music, and Linkin Park led that charge straight into the hearts of angry teenagers across the world. Some would argue the band’s experimental sound doesn’t fall squarely under the ‘rock’ umbrella, but when their first two albums dropped, nobody cared. While ‘Numb’ and ‘In The End’ are their usual playlist picks, the unique opening of ‘Faint’ and Rob Bourdon’s beats dominating the track make it a must-listen.
‘Holiday’ by Green Day: From the discography of one of the most popular bands of the early 2000s, ‘Holiday’ is often overshadowed by the likes of ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’. That said, the catchy, upbeat nature of this track was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise moody decade for the genre.
‘Be Yourself’ by Audioslave: If you’ve ever wanted to learn bass guitar and been subjected to jokes about bass guitarists being useless in a band, ‘Be Yourself’ is the song to put the jibes to bed. The steady bass line of this song holds its own against the other instruments and lends to the flow of this underrated number. A great track to test out new headphones.
‘Have A Nice Day’ by Bon Jovi: This is one of the best tracks to reset the mood after too much of Linkin Park. Bon Jovi’s bright vocals and the overall upbeat nature of this song’s music video guarantee that it'll deliver on its promise, and make your day a little nicer.
This brought me to the question of what’s up with rock music today, when songs can live or die based on their likelihood of becoming a Tiktok dance trend. Judging by these tracks that dropped over the past year (some of them by familiar names from decades past), the genre is still in good hands.
‘Do or Die’ by Sophie Lloyd feat. Nathan James: One of the most popular rock singles of 2022 came courtesy Sophie Lloyd—a guitarist who rose to fame on YouTube—working with the frontman of British rock band Inglorious. Lloyd’s early music inspiration? Led Zeppelin.
‘Take What You Want’ by Def Leppard: This British Rock band has been around since the 1970s, and continues rocking it to this day. The album featuring this song has been described as a nostalgia trip to the glory days of rock. If that’s what you’ve been craving, you now know where to look.
‘Black Summer’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers: Speaking of nostalgia trips, this song is the reason I left out RHCP’s ‘Californication’ from this list, because it feels a lot like that song got a new lease of life. If you enjoy the band’s work, this one should have you grooving along in no time.
‘Fallin' With Me’ by The Struts: Britain seems to have a way of producing the biggest names in rock music, and that tradition clearly hasn’t changed, as this rock band from Derby has been quietly garnering a following. This song is a great example of modern rock, instantly recognisable to fans of the genre, but unfettered by the legacies of those who came before.