20 Best Rock Songs of 2015
The Loudwire readers had their say in the 5th Annual Loudwire Music Awards, but now it’s time for the staff to weigh in with our picks for the 20 Best Rock Songs of 2015.
And what a year it was! We had acts like Breaking Benjamin, Faith No More, Disturbed and Atreyu making solid musical statements after a lengthy period away from recording. Meanwhile, acts like Shinedown, Halestorm, Marilyn Manson, Pop Evil just continued their strong presence in the music scene. And 2015 was the year we were introduced to bands like Red Sun Rising and Highly Suspect as they made their first imprint at rock radio.
It was not easy pairing this list down to 20, but after much deliberation, we’ve made our picks for the 20 Best Rock Songs of 2015. Check out the list below.
The Ohio rockers struck radio gold in 2015 with “The Otherside,” a track that has some of that Alice in Chains-inspired darker melody. The song, from Red Sun Rising‘s Polyester Zeal album, was penned about the universal idea that no matter how you live your life, we all come out on the other side.
Mark Tremonti had success with the first album from his self-titled band, and follow it up in 2015 with Cauterize, which yielded the breakout single “Another Heart.” The track offers a mix of blistering Tremonti guitar licks and a blend of both heavy and melodic moments. The heaviness of the song matched the anguish and longing of the lyrics and proved to be one of the year’s better singles.
“Do You Know Who You Are?”
Welcome back Atreyu! The SoCal rockers returned in 2015 with their Long Live album and the infinitely catchy stomp-clap single “Do You Know Who You Are?” Thanks to the rhythm of the track, Alex Varkatzas’ rough vocals are almost delivered more in a rap-like cadence, while drummer Brandon Saller’s melodic vocals power the anthemic chorus. This song is an earworm that leaves something of substance in its message behind after the catchiness has finally dissipated.
“Coming for You”
The Offspring work at their own pace when it comes to albums, but decided they had a song so good they wanted to share it immediately. That song, “Coming for You,” is vintage Offspring, with a clap-along beat and Dexter Holland’s easily recognizable vocals. The track has already earned its spot alongside the Offspring’s biggest hits and has us excited for what else the band will provide when their next disc finally arrives.
“Heavy Is the Head”
Zac Brown Band are mostly known for their success in country music, but they showed they know a thing or two about hard rock in 2015 when they collaborated with Chris Cornell for a song heavy enough it should never be mistaken for country. The veteran band show they can noodle around heavy riffs with the best of them, and adding Cornell’s highly recognizable vocals alongside Brown’s was a stroke of collaborative genius.
A resonating guitar line, a foot-stomping beat and Leigh Kakaty “go higher, go higher” chorus in Pop Evil‘s monster single “Footsteps” really stick with you. “Footsteps” helped set the bar for the band, who viewed their UP album as a transition to talking about things other than their struggles. It’s an uplifting track that comes with a killer beat and stands as not only one of the biggest radio songs of the year, but also as one of rock’s best tracks, period.
Bring Me the Horizon‘s sound continues to evolve and we saw that on display in 2015 with the single “Throne” from their That’s the Spirit album. The uptempo rocker proved to be one of the band’s most accessible songs to date, with its electro keyboard infused opening, Oli Sykes’ Chester Bennington-rivaling vocals and a catchiness that netted the band a whole bunch of more fans along the way.
When it comes to connecting with pure energy and emotion, Nothing More do it as well as any act out there. But there was something even more personal for the band that fueled their single “Jenny.” The track was inspired by singer Jonny Hawkins’ sister who struggles with bipolar disorder. The subject matter is definitely powerful, but musically the track strikes a chord with moments of intimacy and unbridled low end heaviness that make this an all round great song.
Puscifer have raised the bar with their third album, Money Shot, and it all starts with the song “Grand Canyon,” the first piece of new music we heard from the disc. The meditative track mirrors the beauty of its title, with a slow building musical soundscape, Maynard James Keenan’s trance-like vocals and beautiful complementary vocals from Carina Round.
Dynamite! Clutch returned with an adrenaline-fueled new album called Psychic Warfare this year and the breakout track was “X-Ray Visions,” a song penned by the band about psychic experimentation. As always, vocalist Neil Fallon delivers a commanding performance, while the band keep their pedals pressed to the metal. You’ll want to turn this up and rock it out.
“Chlorine and Wine”
The hard-hitting Baroness returned in late 2015 with a different focus. Eager not to repeat themselves, the band leaned heavier on their rhythm section and one of the initial results was the standout track “Chlorine and Wine.” The song starts out with a more meditative vibe before increasing the intensity and letting fly with John Baizley’s no holds barred vocals.
“Could Have Been Me”
English four-piece The Struts certainly left their mark on 2015, due in part to the breakout single “Could Have Been Me.” Simply put, vocalist Luke Spiller takes this catchy, upbeat track and makes it a fully triumphant anthem with his delivery. If this one doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.
“The Vengeful One”
First we hear the drums, then the driving guitars and eventually the familiar rhythmic vocal delivery of David Draiman and just like that, Disturbed were back with a new song. But “The Vengeful One” stands out from some of the band’s past work, with Draiman showing off more vocal range and melody, guitarist Dan Donegan showing off more of his playing and the band reminding us how good they can be when all four parts reach a fevered jam midway into the track. “The Vengeful One” was not just a welcome return from the band’s hiatus, it was a signifier that they were as strong as ever.
Breaking Benjamin have been through many highs and lows in their career, including a period of inactivity in recent years as Benjamin Burnley fought his former bandmates for the rights to the group’s name and battled serious illness. But a reconstructed lineup has the band back on the musical map bigger and better than ever. In the ultimate irony, one of the group’s biggest triumphs of their career is the chart-topping song “Failure.” Despite the title, the song is truly motivational and uplifting and will have you singing along by the end.
Highly Suspect are one of 2015’s true breakout stories and a big part of that is their Top 5 single “Lydia,” which commanded the airwaves for a good portion of the year. The building intensity of the guitar lick and drum beat combined with singer Johnny Stevens’ initially raspy and later unbridled delivery made for a truly fist-pumping, energetic anthem. Loudwire’s readers recently voted it as their Rock Song of the Year in the Loudwire Music Awards, and we have to agree that this is one of the year’s top rock tracks.
Royal Thunder garnered rave reviews early in 2015 for their Crooked Doors album, and “Time Machine” gets our nod for the disc’s standout release. Vocalist Mlny Parsonz masterfully navigates the initially wistful, but increasingly intense emotion of the song. Though not a huge radio song, this one definitely deserves to reach more ears and ranks among our favorites of 2015.
What would Faith No More sound like after an 18-year break between albums? We were pleasantly surprised that the experimental rockers were every bit as vital, issuing the stellar Sol Invictus disc in May. One of the standout tracks from that album, “Superhero,” gets our nod among the years Best Rock Songs, delivering piano, revved up guitars playing off an energetic drum beat and some fist-pumping “Go, go, go, go, go, go’s” to get into. Looks like Faith No More are still “leaders of men” when it comes to the rock scene.
“Cut the Cord”
Shinedown have dominated rock radio in recent years with good reason, but something about the band’s Threat to Survival single “Cut the Cord” feels more energized and immediate than some of their past singles. Perhaps it’s the undeniable power and infectious drum beat from Barry Kerch. Maybe it’s the pulsing bass work of Eric Bass cutting through. Or it could be the driving guitar of Zach Myers or even the in-your-face aggression of Brent Smith’s vocals, but “Cut the Cord” has an edge separating it from the pack of the band’s previous hits.
While Lzzy Hale can belt with the best of ’em, we’re digging the more soulful, sultry, bluesy vibe the Halestorm vocalist brought to “Amen” off of their Into the Wild Life album. This chugging rocker has an undeniable groove as Hale sings about taking life’s miseries head on and living for those moments that truly take you to a higher place. The way this song rocks, when Lzzy asks if she can get an “Amen,” you’d be hard pressed to find someone not ready to testify.
“The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles”
Is there anyone who has the swagger or delivers a seethingly sinister sound as good as Marilyn Manson these days? On “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles,” Manson reclaims a bit of “The Beautiful People” swinging groove, but plays it even darker. As he states in the song, he’ll “rise to every occasion.” In this case, he’s correct as “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” feels like a true standout offering from his Pale Emperor album, ready to sit alongside some of his best works, making it our choice for Best Rock Song of 2015.