Table of Contents
- 1. I Love Rock’ n’ Roll – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
- 2. Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
- 3. Heart of Glass – Blondie
- 4. Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
- 5. Brass in Pocket – The Pretenders
- 6. Barracuda – Heart
- 7. Heartbreaker – Pat Benatar
- 8. Don’t Speak – No Doubt
- 9. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
- 10. Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
- 11. Zombie – The Cranberries
- 12. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
- 13. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, and Eurythmics
- 14. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- 15. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group
- 16. Bring Me to Life – Evanescence
- 17. Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt
- 18. Misery Business – Paramore
- 19. It’s Not You – Halestorm
- 20. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
- 21. What’s Up – 4 Non Blondes
- 22. Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage
- 23. Rock Hard – Suzi Quatro
- 24. Celebrity Skin – Hole
- 25. Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) – Kate Bush
- 26. Bitch – Meredith Brooks
- 27. Criminal – Fiona Apple
- 28. Cannonball – The Breeders
- 29. Call Me – Blondie
- 30. I’m the Only One – Melissa Etheridge
- 31. Heaven Knows – The Pretty Reckless
- 32. Fast and Frightening – L7
- 33. Down by the Water – PJ Harvey
- 34. Spellbound – Siouxsie and the Banshees
- 35. I Can’t Breathe – Pussy Riot
- 36. Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
- 37. Domination – Band-Maid
- 38. Take It Off – The Donnas
- 39. Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
- 40. Charity Ball – Fanny
- 41. Kiss My Ass Goodbye – 7 Year Bitch
- 42. Bedroom Eyes – Dum Dum Girls
Rock music has long been considered a male-dominated genre, with male musicians often dominating the charts and headlining festivals. However, throughout history, women have been breaking down barriers and making their mark in rock music. From Janis Joplin to Joan Jett, there are countless examples of women who have not only held their own in the rock world but have also helped shape the sound and style of the genre. In this article, we will celebrate the incredible talent and contributions of female rock musicians by counting down the top 42 best female rock songs of all time. These tracks prove that women rock just as hard as men, with powerful vocals, hard-hitting guitar riffs, and anthemic lyrics that inspire and empower listeners. From punk to grunge, from blues to metal, these songs cover a range of styles and eras, but they all have one thing in common: they are undeniable proof that women belong in rock music, and they have the talent, passion, and drive to hold their own in a male-dominated industry. So let’s turn up the volume, get ready to headbang, and celebrate the best female rock songs of all time!
1. I Love Rock’ n’ Roll – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a song originally recorded by The Arrows in 1975 but popularized by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 1982. The song features a catchy guitar riff and Jett’s powerful vocals that make it an anthem of the rock genre. The song’s lyrics celebrate the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and are accompanied by a driving beat and sing-along chorus. It has become one of the most recognizable rock songs of all time and has been covered by numerous artists since its release. Jett’s performance on the song has become iconic, cementing her status as one of the most influential female rockers of all time.
2. Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
“Edge of Seventeen” is a classic rock song by Stevie Nicks, originally released in 1981. The song’s title was inspired by a conversation Nicks had with Tom Petty’s wife, who had described the couple’s meeting at the “age of seventeen”. The song features Nicks’ distinctive vocals and a driving guitar riff, creating a haunting and powerful melody. The song’s lyrics are inspired by the death of Nicks’ uncle and explore themes of loss, grief, and the passage of time. “Edge of Seventeen” has become one of Nicks’ most popular and enduring songs, showcasing her talents as a songwriter and musician.
3. Heart of Glass – Blondie
“Heart of Glass” is a classic song by the American band Blondie, released in 1979. The song features a distinctive disco-inspired sound that was a departure from the band’s earlier punk rock style. The song’s iconic opening riff, catchy chorus, and Debbie Harry’s dreamy vocals make it an enduring favorite. The lyrics of the song explore themes of heartbreak and emotional vulnerability, with Harry lamenting a lover who left her feeling lost and alone. “Heart of Glass” is widely regarded as one of Blondie’s most popular and influential songs, helping to pave the way for the new wave and post-punk genres that emerged in the 1980s.
4. Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
“Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways is a high-energy rock song that features a driving beat, heavy guitar riffs, and the powerful vocals of lead singer Cherie Currie. The song’s lyrics celebrate youthful rebellion and sexual freedom, making it a favorite among fans of the punk rock genre.
5. Brass in Pocket – The Pretenders
“Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders is a catchy and upbeat pop-rock song that showcases the unique vocal style of lead singer Chrissie Hynde. The song’s lyrics describe a woman who is confident in her own abilities and is not afraid to pursue what she wants.
6. Barracuda – Heart
“Barracuda” by Heart is a classic rock song that features the band’s signature harmonies and the powerful vocals of lead singer Ann Wilson. The song’s driving guitar riffs and pounding drums make it a standout in the rock genre, while the lyrics explore themes of betrayal and revenge.
7. Heartbreaker – Pat Benatar
“Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar is a hard-hitting rock song that features the singer’s powerful vocals and a driving beat. The song’s lyrics explore themes of love and heartbreak, with Benatar lamenting a lover who has left her feeling betrayed and alone. The song’s memorable guitar riff and catchy chorus make it a favorite among fans of the rock genre.
8. Don’t Speak – No Doubt
“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt is a classic breakup song that features lead singer Gwen Stefani’s distinctive vocals and a haunting melody. The song’s lyrics explore the pain and confusion that comes with the end of a relationship, and the difficulty of finding closure. “Don’t Speak” has become one of No Doubt’s most popular and enduring songs, showcasing the band’s talents as musicians and songwriters.
9. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane is a psychedelic rock classic that features a hypnotic bass line and the distinctive vocals of lead singer Grace Slick. The song’s lyrics draw heavily from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and explore themes of altered states of consciousness and the counterculture of the 1960s.
10. Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac is a timeless classic that showcases the songwriting talents of vocalist and keyboardist Christine McVie. The song features a memorable melody and haunting lyrics that explore the complexities of love and relationships. With its iconic opening chords and Stevie Nicks’ backing vocals, “Dreams” has become one of the band’s most beloved and enduring songs.
11. Zombie – The Cranberries
“Zombie” by The Cranberries is a powerful and politically charged song that was inspired by the conflict in Northern Ireland. The song features haunting vocals from lead singer Dolores O’Riordan and a driving rhythm that underscores the song’s message of protest and resistance.
12. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette is a hard-hitting rock song that showcases the singer’s powerful vocals and raw emotional intensity. The song’s lyrics explore the pain and anger that comes with a breakup, with Morissette singing about a former lover who has moved on with someone else. With its memorable chorus and searing guitar riffs, “You Oughta Know” has become a classic of the 1990s alternative rock scene.
13. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, and Eurythmics
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics is a synth-pop classic that features the distinctive vocals of Annie Lennox and the atmospheric production of Dave Stewart. The song’s lyrics explore the nature of dreams and desires, with Lennox singing about the search for fulfillment and the sometimes unsettling quality of our deepest aspirations. With its unforgettable synth riff and Lennox’s powerful vocals, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” has become one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s, and a touchstone for fans of the new wave and synth-pop genres.
14. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Heads Will Roll” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an indie rock anthem that features the band’s signature combination of propulsive guitar riffs, driving drums, and Karen O’s fierce vocals. The song’s lyrics are a surreal and evocative exploration of power, control, and the nature of fear, with O singing about a sinister queen who demands loyalty from her subjects. With its unforgettable chorus and infectious energy, “Heads Will Roll” has become one of the band’s most popular and enduring songs, and a favorite of fans of indie and alternative rock.
15. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group
“Because the Night” by Patti Smith Group is a passionate and anthemic rock song that features Smith’s powerful vocals and Bruce Springsteen’s distinctive guitar work. The song’s lyrics are an exploration of the intense emotions that come with falling in love, with Smith singing about the overwhelming power of desire and the way it can transform our lives. With its driving rhythm and soaring chorus, “Because the Night” has become a classic of the 1970s rock scene, and a touchstone for fans of punk, new wave, and alternative rock.
16. Bring Me to Life – Evanescence
“Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence is a powerful rock song that features the band’s signature blend of soaring vocals, crunching guitars, and electronic flourishes. The song’s lyrics explore the struggle to find meaning and purpose in life, with singer Amy Lee imploring the listener to wake up and embrace their true self. With its driving rhythm and memorable chorus, “Bring Me to Life” has become one of Evanescence’s most iconic songs, and a favorite of fans of alternative rock and gothic music. The song’s passionate and emotive performance has helped it endure as a classic of the early 2000s rock scene.
17. Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt
“Blue Bayou” is a classic country-rock ballad that was originally recorded by Roy Orbison in 1963, but it was Linda Ronstadt’s 1977 cover that brought the song to a wider audience. Ronstadt’s version of the song features her signature soaring vocals and a lush arrangement that includes steel guitar, strings, and backing vocals. The song’s lyrics are a wistful and nostalgic ode to a lost love and a distant place, with Ronstadt singing about the beauty of the Louisiana bayou and the memories it holds. “Blue Bayou” has become a beloved classic of the country and rock genres, and a testament to Ronstadt’s enduring talent as a singer and interpreter of songs.
18. Misery Business – Paramore
“Misery Business” is a high-energy pop punk song by the American band Paramore. The song features driving guitars, propulsive drums, and frontwoman Hayley Williams’ powerful vocals, as she sings about taking control of her life and asserting her independence. The song’s catchy chorus and infectious energy have made it a fan favorite, and it has become one of Paramore’s signature songs. “Misery Business” was a hit on alternative rock radio and helped to establish the band as one of the leading voices in the emo and pop punk scenes of the mid-2000s.
19. It’s Not You – Halestorm
“It’s Not You” is a hard-rocking track by the American band Halestorm. The song features Lzzy Hale’s gritty vocals, heavy guitar riffs, and a driving rhythm section. The lyrics are an assertive declaration of independence and empowerment, as Hale sings about standing up for herself and rejecting the expectations of others. “It’s Not You” showcases the band’s raw energy and dynamic musicianship, and it has become a fan favorite.
20. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
“Time After Time” is a classic ballad by the American singer Cyndi Lauper. The song features a simple yet beautiful arrangement of piano, synth, and strings, as Lauper’s expressive vocals convey a message of love and resilience. The song’s lyrics are a poignant meditation on the passage of time and the enduring power of human connection. “Time After Time” has become a beloved classic of the 1980s pop canon, and it is a testament to Lauper’s enduring talent as a songwriter and performer.
21. What’s Up – 4 Non Blondes
“What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes is an alternative rock anthem that speaks to the existential questioning that many people experience. The song features powerful vocals and an infectious melody that make it an enduring favorite. Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” is a moody and brooding song that speaks to the emotional complexities of life. It features a driving beat and powerful vocals from lead singer Shirley Manson. Both songs showcase the unique sound and style of their respective bands and have become classics of the alternative rock genre.
22. Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage
“Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage is a dark, grunge-inspired anthem that reflects the emotional turmoil of lead singer Shirley Manson. With brooding guitar riffs, pounding drums, and Manson’s powerful vocals, the song expresses a sense of relief in the midst of misery. The lyrics describe finding solace in the gloomy weather, with rain serving as a metaphor for the singer’s troubled state of mind. Despite its melancholic tone, “Only Happy When It Rains” is a cathartic and empowering anthem for those who struggle with their emotions.
23. Rock Hard – Suzi Quatro
“Rock Hard” by Suzi Quatro is a high-energy rock song that showcases the raw power of Quatro’s vocals and bass playing. The song features driving guitar riffs and a pounding rhythm section, making it a perfect example of the hard rock genre. The lyrics describe the thrill of performing live and the rush of being on stage, capturing the essence of rock and roll rebellion. With its unapologetic attitude and infectious energy, “Rock Hard” is a timeless classic that still resonates with fans of rock music.
24. Celebrity Skin – Hole
“Celebrity Skin” by Hole is a blistering critique of the superficiality and emptiness of celebrity culture. With its catchy guitar hooks and anthemic chorus, the song is a bold and unapologetic statement about the commodification of fame. The lyrics describe the desperation of those who seek the spotlight at any cost, even if it means sacrificing their authenticity and identity. The song’s message is as relevant today as it was when it was first released, as the cult of celebrity continues to dominate popular culture. “Celebrity Skin” is a powerful and important song that challenges us to question our obsession with fame and image.
25. Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) – Kate Bush
“Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” by Kate Bush is a haunting and ethereal song that explores the complexities of relationships and gender dynamics. With its atmospheric synths and Bush’s soaring vocals, the song expresses a sense of longing and desperation. The lyrics describe a plea to switch places with a loved one in order to understand their perspective, offering a poetic and moving exploration of empathy and understanding. With its timeless and introspective lyrics, “Running Up That Hill” remains a beloved classic and a testament to Bush’s songwriting prowess.
26. Bitch – Meredith Brooks
“Bitch” by Meredith Brooks is a bold and unapologetic feminist anthem that celebrates female empowerment and self-expression. With its catchy guitar riff and defiant lyrics, the song is a rallying cry for women who refuse to be silenced or defined by societal norms. The lyrics describe the complexity of being a woman, rejecting the limiting stereotypes and expectations placed on women by society. With its message of self-love and unapologetic authenticity, “Bitch” is a timeless classic that still resonates with fans of all ages and genders who seek to defy convention and embrace their true selves.
27. Criminal – Fiona Apple
“Criminal” by Fiona Apple is a raw and emotionally charged confessional that explores the complexities of guilt, shame, and self-destructive behavior. With its jazzy piano riff and Apple’s powerful vocals, the song is a haunting portrait of a young woman grappling with her own darkness. The lyrics describe the protagonist’s self-destructive tendencies and the ways in which she seeks to escape her own pain. With its unflinching honesty and poetic lyricism, “Criminal” is a masterpiece of introspective songwriting that continues to captivate audiences and inspire artists.
28. Cannonball – The Breeders
“Cannonball” by The Breeders is an infectious and energetic alt-rock classic that showcases the band’s distinctive sound and playful lyrics. With its driving bassline and catchy chorus, the song is a celebration of youthful exuberance and rebellion. The lyrics describe the thrill of jumping into the unknown and taking risks, capturing the essence of rock and roll rebellion. With its irresistible energy and infectious melody, “Cannonball” is a timeless classic that continues to inspire a new generation of musicians and fans.
29. Call Me – Blondie
“Call Me” by Blondie is a disco-infused new wave classic that captures the glamour and excitement of the 1980s. With its driving guitar riff and Debbie Harry’s iconic vocals, the song is a celebration of love and passion. The lyrics describe the thrill of being desired and pursued, offering a seductive and empowering vision of female sexuality. With its irresistible energy and infectious chorus, “Call Me” is a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences and inspire a new generation of musicians and fans.
30. I’m the Only One – Melissa Etheridge
“I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge is a soulful and powerful rock ballad that explores the complexities of love and desire. With its emotional lyrics and Etheridge’s raspy vocals, the song expresses the pain and longing of unrequited love. The lyrics describe the protagonist’s struggle to let go of a lover who cannot reciprocate her feelings, offering a poignant and relatable exploration of heartbreak. With its raw emotion and soulful sound, “I’m the Only One” is a timeless classic that continues to touch the hearts of listeners around the world.
31. Heaven Knows – The Pretty Reckless
“Heaven Knows” by The Pretty Reckless is a powerful rock anthem that expresses a message of empowerment and self-discovery. The song is led by the dynamic vocals of frontwoman Taylor Momsen, who belts out the lyrics with raw emotion and conviction. The driving beat, heavy guitar riffs, and catchy chorus make for an unforgettable listening experience. The song’s lyrics touch on themes of inner strength, self-acceptance, and the search for meaning in life. “Heaven Knows” is a rousing call to action for anyone who has ever felt lost or unsure of themselves, urging them to embrace their true selves and follow their own path.
32. Fast and Frightening – L7
“Fast and Frightening” by L7 is a high-energy punk rock track that showcases the band’s signature sound and attitude. From the opening riff, the song barrels forward with relentless force, driven by the propulsive drumming and razor-sharp guitar work. The lyrics touch on themes of speed, danger, and rebellion, as the band members shout out their defiance against the norms of society. With its catchy chorus and explosive energy, “Fast and Frightening” is a classic punk rock anthem that still resonates today, reminding us to embrace our inner rebellious spirit and never back down from a challenge.
33. Down by the Water – PJ Harvey
“Down by the Water” by PJ Harvey is a hauntingly beautiful song that draws on blues and folk influences to create a sound that is uniquely her own. The song features Harvey’s distinctive vocals, which are at once delicate and powerful, and a mesmerizing guitar riff that repeats throughout the song. The lyrics tell a dark tale of murder and regret, with Harvey adopting the persona of the killer to explore themes of guilt and redemption. “Down by the Water” is a haunting, unforgettable track that showcases Harvey’s songwriting and vocal talents at their very best.
34. Spellbound – Siouxsie and the Banshees
“Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees is a mesmerizing post-punk classic that features the band’s trademark combination of driving rhythms, angular guitar riffs, and Siouxsie Sioux’s distinctive vocals. The song’s lyrics are full of vivid imagery and poetic language, with Sioux singing about the power of love and desire to overcome all obstacles. The chorus is an irresistible earworm that captures the song’s hypnotic energy, while the guitar solo is a highlight of the track, showcasing the band’s virtuosic musicianship. “Spellbound” remains a timeless classic of the post-punk era, and a testament to Siouxsie and the Banshees’ enduring influence on modern rock music.
35. I Can’t Breathe – Pussy Riot
“I Can’t Breathe” by Pussy Riot is a powerful protest song that addresses the issue of police brutality and racial injustice. The track features a driving beat, urgent vocals, and a chorus that repeats the titular phrase, invoking the last words of George Floyd and other victims of police violence. The lyrics call for an end to systemic racism and oppression, and urge listeners to stand up and fight for justice. The track is a raw, emotional expression of anger and frustration that captures the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a powerful call to action for anyone who believes in equality and human rights.
36. Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
“Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles is a classic pop song that was a huge hit in the 80s. The track features a catchy melody, upbeat rhythm, and memorable lyrics that tell the story of people in ancient Egypt dancing and having fun. The chorus is an earworm that is impossible not to sing along to, while the song’s exotic, Middle Eastern-inspired instrumentation gives it a unique and memorable sound. “Walk Like an Egyptian” is a timeless pop classic that still sounds fresh and fun today, and a testament to The Bangles’ talent for crafting irresistible, catchy tunes.
37. Domination – Band-Maid
“Domination” by Band-Maid is a hard-hitting rock anthem that showcases the band’s virtuosic musicianship and powerful vocals. The track features a driving beat, crunchy guitar riffs, and an infectious chorus that will have listeners headbanging along in no time. The lyrics deal with themes of domination and power, with the band members urging listeners to take control of their lives and never back down from a challenge. “Domination” is a thrilling rock track that proves Band-Maid’s talent for crafting high-energy, catchy tunes that are sure to get your blood pumping.
38. Take It Off – The Donnas
“Take It Off” by The Donnas is a raucous punk rock anthem that features the band’s trademark mix of catchy melodies and fierce attitude. The track features a propulsive beat, crunching guitar riffs, and a memorable chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head. The lyrics are full of rebellious energy, with the band members urging listeners to shed their inhibitions and embrace their true selves. “Take It Off” is a classic punk rock tune that captures the spirit of teenage rebellion and the thrill of breaking free from societal norms.
39. Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
“Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin is a simple, but powerful bluesy tune that features Joplin’s distinctive, raw and emotional vocals. The song was famously recorded just a few days before Joplin’s death in 1970, and has become an iconic testament to her talent and legacy. The track is a poignant commentary on consumer culture and materialism, with Joplin singing about her desire for a Mercedes Benz, while poking fun at the idea that material possessions will bring happiness. “Mercedes Benz” is a timeless classic that showcases Joplin’s unique voice and songwriting ability.
40. Charity Ball – Fanny
“Charity Ball” by Fanny is a funky, energetic track that showcases the band’s tight musicianship and soulful vocals. The song features a driving beat, punchy horns, and a catchy chorus that will get your feet moving. The lyrics tell the story of a charity ball where the band members are performing, and the various people they encounter at the event. The song is full of witty observations and sharp social commentary, with the band members poking fun at the hypocrisy and superficiality of high society. “Charity Ball” is a fun, upbeat tune that shows off Fanny’s talent for crafting catchy, socially conscious rock music.
41. Kiss My Ass Goodbye – 7 Year Bitch
“Kiss My Ass Goodbye” by 7 Year Bitch is a fierce and uncompromising punk rock track that showcases the band’s raw energy and hard-hitting sound. The song features a driving beat, gritty guitar riffs, and powerful vocals that exude attitude and confidence. The lyrics are full of rebellious spirit, with the band members rejecting societal norms and expressing their determination to live life on their own terms. “Kiss My Ass Goodbye” is a classic punk rock anthem that captures the spirit of teenage rebellion and the thrill of standing up for what you believe in.
42. Bedroom Eyes – Dum Dum Girls
“Bedroom Eyes” by Dum Dum Girls is a dreamy, atmospheric pop song that showcases the band’s talent for crafting catchy, ethereal tunes. The track features shimmering guitars, delicate vocals, and a memorable chorus that will transport listeners to another world. The lyrics are full of romantic yearning, with the band members singing about the dizzying feelings of falling in love. “Bedroom Eyes” is a beautiful, evocative track that shows off Dum Dum Girls’ ability to create immersive, emotionally resonant music that speaks to the heart.