Although their musical styles spread across several categories, the 10 best pop rock songs all have something in common. Their catchy melodies and easy accessibility transcended the rock genre and gained widespread acceptance on the pop charts. This combination allowed for a unique blend of catchy hooks and solid instrumentation.
- “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. Male-female relations in America took a gigantic step backward after the release of this 1995 pop rock hit. Its bitter lyrics tell the tale of a woman scorned, shrieked over instrumental contributions by Flea and Dave Navarro.
- “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS. Australian rockers INXS were masters at catchy pop rock songwriting. Their 1988 album “Kick” contains this mid-tempo gem, complete with an unexpectedly scorching saxophone solo.
- “Land of Confusion” by Genesis. Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel took a backseat to the “other guy” in the band, guitarist Mike Rutherford, as the driving force behind this intense 1986 pop rock song. Its lyrics tell a bleak tale of Cold War America, a message escalated by Collins’ urgent vocals and the song’s haunting music video.
- “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. If you were a high-school-age male in 1985, you probably knew all the words to this pop rock song. Its bare bones structure and no-nonsense lyrics made it relatable to everyone. Being prominently featured throughout the hit movie “Back to the Future” didn’t hurt, either.
- “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams. Even though Adams was only nine years old in the actual summer of ‘69, he took creative license in this 1985 pop rock hit. Its lyrics tell the story of starting a band and falling in love during one memorable summer.
- “Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms. Perhaps the most underrated of the ten best pop rock songs, this 1992 hit sometimes gets lost amid Gin Blossoms’ other musical achievements. It’s a melodically sunny take on depressing subject matter, a juxtaposition that makes quite an impression on the listener.
- “Maneater” by Hall and Oates. As the soulful troubadours of ‘80s pop rock, Hall and Oates enjoyed much success combining bluesy guitar work with catchy pop melodies. The 1982 album “H2O” contained this Motown-infused pop rock song, a musical caution against a dangerous woman.
- “Just a Girl” by No Doubt. Musical juggernauts No Doubt have no shortage of tunes that could be considered for the ten best pop rock songs, but this up-tempo 1995 single stands above the rest. Featuring instrumental nods to punk and ska beneath Gwen Stefani’s bubbly vocal, it’s a three minute and twenty-six second sonic assault.
- “Misery Business” by Paramore. Placing singer Hayley Williams’ smooth vocal delivery alongside a comparatively abrasive instrumentation was Paramore’s key to success in this 2007 pop rock song. The result is a melodic jam that’s nothing short of enjoyable.
- “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5. 2002’s mega-successful “Songs About Jane” featured this song, a guitar-driven pop rock masterwork. Contained in singer Adam Levine’s falsetto is an interesting take on the pressures of stardom.
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