Whether you were growing up in the ‘00s or were already shredding the guitar, it’s pretty likely that you’ve played Guitar Hero one time or another. The game featured a ton of amazing tracks that could be played with a video game controller, it was revolutionary at the time and I for one spent hours and days playing it.
I’ve been reminiscing about this awesome video game series recently, and I decided to put together a list of the 20 best Guitar Hero songs in my opinion.
Join me on a nostalgic adventure through music!
1. Dragonforce – Through the Fire and Flames
Let’s start things off with a bang – Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce. This band was literally put on the map thanks to Guitar Hero as the song features the final boss battle on Guitar Hero III.
It’s widely been known as the hardest song to play on guitar hero, with the expert mode proving to be almost as impossible as playing the song on a real guitar!
Fun fact – the guitarist of Dragonforce Herman Li regularly thrashes this song out on his live streams, both on Guitar Hero and with a real guitar!
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
Next up on my list of the best guitar hero songs is Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. This track is very different from the first and represents the amazing diversity found across Guitar Hero games.
This track was featured on Guitar Hero II, and it was always my go-to when I fancied playing something a bit more chilled than Through the Fire and Flames
It’s a beautiful and soulful track, well worth learning on the guitar or simply playing it on Guitar Hero.
3. Living Colour – Cult of Personality
Out of the entire series, I spent the most time playing Guitar Hero III. I completed the game on easy, medium, and hard difficulties, but I never managed to beat the game on expert.
On expert mode, even the easier tracks such as Cult of Personality by Living Colour became almost impossible. Regardless of what level of difficulty you play it on, the main riff to this track is so much fun to jam out with!
4. Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Suck My Kiss
When you’re playing Guitar Hero, you don’t always press the controller buttons in time with the electric guitar. A great example of this is Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Suck My Kiss. For the majority of this track, your button presses actually represent Flea’s killer bass guitar slaps!
I love that about this game – it always focuses on whichever music element is most important. Easily one of the best Guitar Hero songs if you’re looking for some funky bass!
5. Rage Against the Machine – Bulls on Parade
Whilst Rage Against the Machine was already widely famous, Guitar Hero’s feature of Bulls on Parade made a massive difference to their career. The band’s core fanbase would have first heard about Rage in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, but Guitar Hero brought their music to teenagers all around the world in 2007.
The band’s style is just one of a kind, and it feels so right when you play it. Who knows, if this track hadn’t featured on Guitar Hero III, perhaps they never would have got the UK Christmas No. 1 with Killing In The Name Of.
6. Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Whilst I love the vast majority of music in the Guitar Hero series, there are a few tracks that are simply not my cup of tea. A great example of this is Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses. Sure it’s a classic, but I’ve always just found the main riff a little bit annoying.
However, Guitar Hero provides a whole different take on the song, it is just so fun to play and despite not particularly enjoying the song, I always love playing it in the game. There really are no bad songs in the series!
7. Weezer – My Name is Jonas
I was really surprised to see this song on Guitar Hero III when I first played it, Weezer was one of my favorite bands at the time yet no one seemed to have heard of them. Their track My Name is Jonas was pretty difficult to play, yet I always seemed to get at least a 95% score.
I put this down to just how fun it was to play, some songs feature such fantastic rhythm sections that it makes playing the harder parts feel easy.
A solid song by a solid band.
8. Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer
I’ve always found it funny how Guitar Hero can quickly switch between Slipknot and Dragonforce songs to Bon Jovi. This variety is what makes the game so special, playing Livin’ On A Prayer in the same session as Through The Fire and Flames has always cracked me up.
This track is just absolutely timeless, the synths and vocoder glue the track together in such a glamorous way. Trust me, when you play this track on Guitar Hero, you will feel like an absolute boss!
9. Aerosmith – Same Old Song and Dance
Continuing with the hair metal and glam rock, Aerosmith’s track Same Old Song and Dance is an easy contender for the best Guitar Hero songs. It’s bluesy, groovy, and one of the easier tracks to play when you’re first starting out.
This track even got my father into Guitar Hero – he was skeptical at first, but as soon as he heard that Aerosmith had a feature, he simply couldn’t resist having a go. Good times…
10. The Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock
Whilst I’d already heard about a lot of the bands in Guitar Hero before playing, the game did introduce me to some of my favorite bands today. An example of this is The Smashing Pumpkins’ track Cherub Rock.
I was so impressed with the intro’s crescendo and how it kicked into the grungy kick-in that I simply had to buy some of their CDs to hear more. I’ve been a massive fan of the band ever since – Billy Corgan’s voice is just something else!
11. In Flames – Take This Life
Whenever I became bored of Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and other softer rock bands, Take This Life by In Flames was one of the best Guitar Hero songs for a change of scenery. This melodic hardcore track was one of the heaviest tracks on Guitar Hero III, and it definitely brainwashed my ears a bit at the time.
I’ve been a metalhead ever since hearing tracks like this on Guitar Hero. Perhaps this game had more impact on my childhood than I initially thought!
12. The Fall of Troy – F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X
Whether you’ve never heard of them or have only heard F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X on Guitar Hero III, you need to listen to more of The Fall of Troy. They are easily in my top 5 bands of all time, with their stunning mix between post-hardcore, math rock, and experimental metal.
Seriously, this band is next level, and I found out about them all thanks to the bonus track on Guitar Hero III. If you play the guitar and own a delay pedal, I’d seriously recommend trying to play this on the real deal – it’s so much fun!
13. Queens of the Stone Age – 3’s & 7’s
You can’t imagine my excitement when I found out the Guitar Hero III featured 3’s & 7’s by Queens of The Stone Age. Sure, the band was very famous at the time, but everyone focused on their hit tracks like No One Knows.
Era Vulgaris was one of my favorite albums, so I couldn’t believe it when they had this weird and wonderful track.
Despite the perfection of this track, I used to love going crazy with the whammy bar on this one. Completely ruined the masterpiece, but it sure did make me and my friends laugh!
14. Slipknot – Before I Forget
As I already mentioned, I’m a massive metalhead these days, and I started young. Guitar Hero showed me a lot of my favorite metal bands, but I already knew about Before I Forget by Slipknot when I played Guitar Hero III.
It’s one of those tracks that I recommend to people when they tell me they don’t like metal. How could you not enjoy those chuggy guitar riffs?
Easily one of the heaviest and best Guitar Hero songs out there.
15. Muse – Knights of Cydonia
I simply couldn’t make this list without considering Knights of Cydonia by Muse. Not long before I first played Guitar Hero III, I went to see Muse live at Wembley Stadium, and seeing this song performed in a huge stadium truly was a special experience.
Whenever I play this game on Guitar Hero, I just imagine being Matt Bellamy on stage, I get goosebumps every time. However, it is one of the longest songs in the game, so you need some seriously high endurance to get through it.
16. AFI – Miss Murder
I’ve tried to mix this list up as much as I can, but let’s face it – the vast majority of the best Guitar Hero songs came from Guitar Hero III. Yet another example is AFI with their killer track Miss Murder.
I always felt a bit bad for this band – everybody knew this song, but no one else seemed to give the rest of their back catalog a go. A deep shame, because they were extremely talented and were always changing the alternative rock scene up!
17. Thirty Seconds to Mars – The Kill
At one point, 30 Seconds To Mars seemed like they were going to reach the dizzy heights of bands such as Muse, but something went wrong. Jared Leto went a bit nuts and started focusing too much on his acting career, and the band slowly slipped away from the mainstream rock scene.
Whenever I remember my past love for this band, I love to power up Guitar Hero III and play the band’s hit single The Kill. It’s a seriously fun song to play and fills me with all sorts of nostalgia.
18. Foo Fighters – Everlong
Guitar Hero World Tour showed promise to be the biggest game in the series when it first came out, providing drum kits and other controllers for your friends to join in with. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as big of a hit as Guitar Hero III, but the game had some solid moments such as Everlong by Foo Fighters.
I’ll always remember having parties with my friends as a teenager, playing this together, and absolutely nailing it. We started a real band shortly after that, all thanks to this underrated game.
19. An Endless Sporadic – Impulse
I’m not sure whether this track was featured as a bonus song or slipped into one of the main game chapters, but I simply cannot remember playing Impulse by An Endless Sporadic. I replayed Guitar Hero III recently and came across it, thinking it was way too fun to be forgotten about.
The game features some really progressive guitar sections with gorgeous synth solos and epic drums. I keep meaning to check out more of this band’s music, and you’ve just reminded me!
20. Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son
I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of this list already, there’s been so much good music that it’s completely flown by. Well, you can’t get much better when it comes to a finishing track than Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas.
I’m not sure what it is about this song, but it always comes into my head instantly when I think about the best Guitar Hero songs. It’s synonymous with the soundtrack and is ridiculously catchy, it’s literally the first song I think about when I hear the game’s name.
A seriously good ending track to a list of some seriously good music. I hope you enjoyed this nostalgic listening journey with me!
Alex is a man of many talents. He’s been playing music since he was young, and has been the main content writer at Tone Start for the past few years. Alex loves to play around with different styles of music and enjoys listening to anything from country to classical.