The Mohs Scale

So, for those of you who missed those episodes, first Laura posted the VH1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs and asked for comments (calling me out by name, heh).  Then I posted my definition of hard rock and my own top 25 – but I still promised a brief critique of the original list.

Welp, I have to be out of the office today so this seemed like a good day to schedule a post – so I wrapped up my critique, sucky and brief though it is, and here it is.  I’d love to have y’all argue with me – if you do, I’ll get back to ya next week.

First, for convenience, I’ll re-post my “necessary elements of a hard-rock song.”

1)       Distorted guitars.  Naturally.

2)      Melodic singing (aka no rap, no Cookie Monster death growls)

3)      Straightforward time signature (no 5/4, or 2+3+3/4, etc) – you have to be able to headbang to it.  So long, Tool and Soundgarden.

4)      Uptempo – I’m not counting ballads for this list.  Which is debatable, I’ll admit.

5)      (And this is the tricky one) – moderate but limited aggression.  That is, YES to AC/DC, NO to Metallica, whose best songs are all over what I’d say is the (grey and fuzzy) aggression threshold that separates hard rock from metal.  There’s also what I’d call a “manic line” that separates hard rock from punk – I think of rock as more “cool” and punk as more “crazy.”  But that’s me.

And now, my breakdown of the VH1 list…

100 ) Sammy Hagar – I can’t drive 55

Yes.  Excellent song, awesome video to boot.

99 ) Grand Funk Railroad – We’re an American Band

No.  Not hard enough.

98 ) Buckcherry – Lit up

No.  Penalized 15 yards for illegal imitation of AC/DC covering Kiss’s “Shock Me.”

97 ) Edgar Winter’s group – Frankenstien

Yes.  Probably should be higher.

96 ) Kansas – Carry on Wayward son

Yes.  This one made my top 25.

95 ) Creed – Higher

No.  Prejudice against Creed aside, this isn’t even their best song .  “My Own Prison” would have been a better choice here.

94 ) The Darkness – I believe in a thing called Love

No.  100 songs on this list, there’s no room for Tesla, but there’s room for The Darkness?  Get outta here.

93 ) Autograph – Turn up the radio

Yes.  Classic for its time.

92 ) Night Ranger – Don’t tell me you love me

No.  Hard pop at best.

91 ) Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet with Butterfly wings

No.  Too aggro and/or too emo to be “hard rock.”

90 ) Jethro Tull – Aqualung

GTFO with this Jethro Tull crap before I sodomize you with that damned Grammy.

89 ) Andrew W. K. – Party hard

No.  Again, see “Tesla.”  And about 40 additional AC/DC songs should make the list before this one.

88 ) Alice in Chains – Would?

No.  AiC is metal, not hard rock.  Otherwise this song should be FAR higher on this list, because it is excellence.

87 ) Winger – Seventeen

No.  Alice’s “Eighteen” isn’t on this list, but “Seventeen” is?  Not so much.

86 ) Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

No.  Post-metal.

85 ) Velvet Revolver – Slither

Sure.  I’m “meh” on the song in general, but it fits.  If I had a choice, though, I’d go with “Life’s Sweet Drug” by Slash’s Snakepit as a better post-GnR song.

84 ) W.A.S.P. – I wanna be somebody

This one toes the “metal” line but I’ll give it a pass.

83 ) Evanescense – Bring me to Life

A lot of people hate this song, but I’m fine with it.  Yes.

82 ) Rainbow – Since you’ve been gone

The list deserves more Blackmore, but this song’s too poppy.  Go with “Kill the King.”

81 ) Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell


80 ) Journey – Any way you want it

This one toes the line.  I’d call it not hard rock, since it lacks the right amount of aggression, but it’s close.  And I have nothing but respect for Neal Schon’s playing – I vividly remember reading an interview in the early 90s with Paul Gilbert, and he said that whenever he listens to a guitarist whose playing needs work, it’s the sort of thing Neal Schon does perfectly that he needs to work on – phrasing, vibrato, right-hand control.  Awesome.

79 ) Billy Idol – Rebel yell

Sure.  Probably a little more rock attitude than “White Wedding.”

78 ) Bad Company – Feel like making love

Yes.  Although I prefer the song “Bad Company” myself.

77 ) Soundgarden – Black hole sun

No.  Metal.

76 ) Lita Ford – Kiss me deadly

Sure.  Forever associated in my mind with Dys’s flamboyantly gay cousin singing it with help from a helium balloon as the wedding party was sitting around drinking on the night before we got married.  Heh.

75 ) White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

GTFO with this shit.

74 ) The Cult – Love removal machine

Replace with “Fire Woman.”

73 ) Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak


72 ) Pat Benetar – Heartbreaker

I’ll take it.

71 ) Jane’s Addiction – Mountain song

Hmm.  I consider JA as alternative, post-metal stuff, not really “hard rock.”  The attitude doesn’t match.  And anyway, while I can say “Mountain Song” is pretty good, I think it would only make someone’s Top 100 if they had heard it live in LA in the late 80s, probably while heavily strung out on heroin.  It seems like the kind of song that would sound truly brilliant while you’re really, really, really high.

70 ) Foreigner – Hot Blooded

“Double Vision” makes a better hard rock song.

69 ) Living Colour – Cult of personality

Belongs MUCH higher…if you don’t count it as metal.

68 ) White Zombie – More human than human

Totally badass – also totally metal.  Sorry.

67 ) ZZ Top – Tush

Hmm.  Another close call – I don’t think I call ZZ Top “hard rock.”  More like hard pop or hard blues.  If you’re going to go with them, though, I’d say “Sharp Dressed Man” is a better hard rock song than “Tush,” which is a little too poppy.

66 ) Europe – The Final countdown

This one should be much lower on the list, but it belongs here, I guess.  I’d just personally rather see King’s X “Over My Head” instead.

65 ) MC5 – Kick out the Jams

Punk, not hard rock.

64 ) Rollins Band – Liar

Post-punk.  Not exactly.  Cool tune though.

63 ) Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

Pop.  Nothing else.

62 ) Dokken – Breaking the Chains

Now this is hard rock.
61 ) Ratt – Round and Round

So is this.  Should be higher, in fact.

60 ) Skid Row – 18 and life

Yes on the band, no on the song – it’s a ballad.  “Monkey Business” or “Youth Gone Wild” for the win

59 ) Billy Squier – the Stroke

Yes.  Excellent.

58 ) Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love song

I’ll say yes, although this one almost tiptoes out of the category.  I love the song though.

57 ) The Kinks – You really got me

As I said earlier, this is hard.  The guitar distortion is partially responsible for everything that became hard rock – but aside from that, how is this really  musically different from other late-60s pop?  Van Halen’s cover, now, is assuredly hard rock.

56 ) Warrant – Cherry Pie

Not bad, but again, there are others more deserving.  Hell, give me Blue Murder’s “Valley of the Kings” at #100 over “Cherry Pie.”

55 ) Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t fear the reaper

You could question whether this song is really “hard rock” as opposed to just “rock” but I give it a pass.  It’s definitely an awesome song, so if you count it as hard rock then it certainly belongs – possibly higher, especially as it earns a thumbs up as a “Song to Lose Your License To.”

54 ) Faith No More – Epic

Great song, but I say it’s metal.  Sorry.

53 ) Steppenwolf – Born to be wild

A classic.  I say “yes.”  And picture Henry Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

52 ) The Runaways – Cherry Bomb

Yeah, hard rock, but I don’t find it a great song.  Average at best.  The only bonus are the members, who were great hard rock musicians and went on to have great careers afterward.

51 ) Megadeth – Peace Sells

Badass, but metal.

50 ) Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give it away

How the hell do you classify the Peppers?  I don’t know, exactly, but I wouldn’t call it “hard rock.”

49 ) Iggy Pop and the Stooges – Search and Destroy


48 ) Korn – Freak on a leash


47 ) Kid Rock – Bawitdaba

Despite some pretty good guitar work, this one violates rule 2 in the original post.  Rap-metal, not hard rock.

46 ) Anthrax – Madhouse

One of my favorite Anthrax songs!  Still metal.  Sorry.

45 ) Foghat – Slow ride

I don’t personally like this song, but I’ll let it pass as a Top 100 Hard Rock song.  It was famous enough in its day.
44 ) Cream – Sunshine of your love

HELL YEAH.  Clapton is God, after all.

43 ) Dio – Holy Diver

Yet another for which I have to say “classic, but metal.”  This is getting repetitive.

42 ) The Clash – Should I stay or should I go

A close call.  I’m going to label this “punk” but it’s right on the edge.

41 ) Quiet Riot – *** on feel the noize

You can say “Cum” on my blog – especially in a nonsexual context.  😉  This one definitely belongs on any Top 100 hard rock list – first hard rock song and album to go #1, if memory serves.  Even though I prefer “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”

40 ) Poison – Talk dirty to me

Sure.  Poison is fluff, but it’s fun fluff, and sure as hell was popular fluff.  Thumbs up.

39 ) Boston – More than a feeling

HELL YES.  I’ve always loved this song, even before it became my favorite drum song on Rock Band.

38 ) Queen – Stone cold crazy

Hmm.  Queen belongs here, and my favorite Queen songs probably wouldn’t pass the criteria, so I’ll give it a pass.  Sure.

37 ) The Who – My generation

Oh yeah.

36 ) Van Halen – hot for teacher

I got it maaade, got it maaade, got it maaaade…  Hard rock for sure.

35 ) Alice Cooper – School’s out

Yep.  And not to harp on the point, but “Eighteen” didn’t make this list why, exactly?

34 ) Heart – Barracuda

Yep.  Definitely underrated.  Who can’t close their eyes and hear that opening riff right now?

33 ) Greenday – Basket Case

Neo-punk.  Nope.

32 ) Ted Nugent – Cat scratch fever

Yes, but I would prefer the vastly underrated “Stranglehold.”  Come on, come on, come on, come on baby…

31 ) AC/DC – Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

Concrete shoes.  Cyanide.  TNT!

30 ) Pearl Jam – Evenflow

I think “Alive” is the better hard rock song, but either is fine.

29 ) Joan Jett – bad reputation

The rhythm and phrasing are pure punk, not so much with the hard rock.  “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and “I Love Rock & Roll,” on the other hand, are badass hard rock songs.  Take one of those here.

28 ) Foo Fighters – Everlong

Oooh.  This is a tough one, as Everlong toes the hard rock/metal line.  I’m going to say “Yes, it’s hard rock” because the attitude is juuuust this side of “too aggressive.”

27 ) Whitesnake – Still of the Night

Again, close on the “hard rock/metal” line.  I’ll say “yes, it’s hard rock, and yes, it’s fuckin’ awesome.”

26 ) Lynyrd Skynyrd – Freebird

Objections were already raised to Skynyrd as a whole on the last post – either way, “Freebird” is a ballad and therefore fails Rule 4.

25 ) The Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop

You know how I defined hard rock up above?  If you were writing a definition of punk, you should write it around this song.  Because this?  This is the definition of punk.

24 ) Iron Butterfly – In-a-gadda-da-vida

Really don’t like the song, but it absolutely belongs.

23 ) Ozzy Ozbourne – Crazy train

Metal.  Sweet, sweet metal.

22 ) The Jimi Hendrix Experience – hey Joe

I indicated originally that I think “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” is probably more important, but upon further reflection, you could say the same for “Third Stone from the Sun.”  I love “Hey Joe” but it’s more of a blues tune.

21 ) Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

Oh hell yes.

20 ) Bon Jovi – You give love a bad name

Yeah.  I prefer “Living on a Prayer” but yes, this was a huge freaking deal at the time.

19 ) Rush – Tom Sawyer

Probably more musically interesting than at least half of the songs on this list, dangerously close to prog-rock, but I say yes, this is hard rock.  The way a thinking man would write it.

18 ) Scorpions – Rock you like a hurricane

My old roommate who taught me as much as anybody about the guitar used to call this the perfect guitar song, with the perfect guitar solo.  An excellent choice.

17 ) Twisted Sister – I wanna rock

Absolutely.  Either this or “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” if not both, should make any list like this.

16 ) Kiss – Rock and roll all nite

While I wouldn’t quibble with someone who put this song on their list just for its pure party-tune value, I still say Love Gun is the better hard rock song, although Heather raised the issue of “Detroit Rock City” and that’s a good choice as well.

15 ) Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood

Love this tune.  “Looks That Kill” is better in my opinion, but perhaps all of the Shout album really classifies as heavy metal – hell, maybe that’s why I like it better.  This or “Kickstart My Heart” definitely belong.

14 ) Iron Maiden – Run to the hills

No.  Metal.

13 ) Def Leppard – Photograph

Yep, and I disagree with Laura – I think “Photograph” is probably their best single song.  Aggressive verses, lighter chorus with the harmony behind – very well done.

12 ) Judas Priest – Breaking the law

Awesome, totally badass…metal.  Maybe you could say “Victim of Changes” or “Living After Midnight” are hard rock, but probably not – I’d say all Priest is metal.

11 ) Deep Purple – Smoke on the water

Sure.  I prefer “Highway Star,” or did before it was the intro to Rock Band and I heard it once a day for months, but this is more classic.

10 ) Motorhead – Ace of spades

This song would probably eat any other song on this list for breakfast and burp something more aggro than any of them.  Absolute amphetamine-driven punk/metal – not hard rock.

9 ) Van Halen – Running with the devil

I still say “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” is the gold standard, or “Unchained” even, but some VH definitely belongs high up on this list.

8  ) Aerosmith – Walk this way

Belongs on the list, but far farther down.  Take Run-DMC away and this is not much better than average, but I will say that the cultural impact of the Run-DMC cover was earthshaking.

7 ) Nirvana – Smells like teen spirit

By now I surely don’t even need to comment on this one.

6 ) The Who – Won’t get fooled again

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  Excellent hard rock.  Oh, if only we wouldn’t, and hadn’t, since this song hit the airwaves.

5 ) Metallica – Enter sandman

Yep.  Metal.

4 ) Black Sabbath – Paranoid

After a ton of thinking it over, I’m still not sure if Sabbath is metal or hard rock.  So I’m going to say hard rock and “OF COURSE.”

3 ) Led Zeppelin – Whole lotta love

Really not as much of a fan of this song as a ton of others.  I’d choose “Achilles’ Last Stand,” personally, but “Rock & Roll” is the more quintessential hard rock tune.

2 ) AC/DC – Back in black

Belongs on the list, but below “Highway to Hell,” and probably “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It).”  Hell, on my list it even belongs below “Shoot to Thrill.”  But this is another quintessential hard rock tune, and it belongs.

1 ) Guns N’ Roses – Welcome to the Jungle

Every time I listen to this album I think about how awesome it must have been to have been a club kid in the mid-80s – this album just drips the sleaze of that LA scene.  This is fabulous hard rock – it belongs in the top 10, just not #1.  Sorry, guys.


There ya go – like I said before, you know I’m wrong, tell me why!

Hope y’all have a good Friday and a good weekend.


10 Responses

  1. Holy crap you have a lot of spare time. LOL.

    I will now make Heather sing the next line:

    “Too much tiiime…on my hands….”

  2. Did you already know ALL the songs on the list, or were there some you had to go and listen to? I know most of them, but there are a few I am not familiar with. Probably a cultural thing! 🙂

    I don’t think I could ever count the Foo Fighters as anything other than metal- and doesn’t that Evanescence song have some kind of crappy metally rapping on it?

    Otherwise, I think you’re fairly spot on! That must have taken you ages!

    I had to look up #’s 98, 89, 82, 73, and 65 – although I remembered 73 once I heard it again. (You say the word “Jailbreak” and I immediately think of the AC/DC song by that name, and it’s hard to get it out of my head. Love that tune.) Pretty much all of the others I could have sung the chorus for you just by looking at the title.

    It took me probably 4-6 hours spread out over 3-4 days.

  3. I feel like I’ve been here before… 😉

    Suzy – I know (and own most) of the songs on that list. LoL

    I think I own most of them myself, now that you mention it.

  4. I’ll say one thing for ya, you’re thorough!

    So, what DO you think belongs in the #1 spot?

    I still stick with my #1 from the original post: AC/DC, “Highway to Hell.” That is the quintessential hard rock song IMHO.

  5. I still have an issue with the important/best/groundbreaking parts of this whole thing. The fact that this whole thing stinks of “airplay” only songs makes it a crappy list in general.

    It is also a tough criteria you put on hard rock since a lot of it blends together…even on the same album.

    I can’t argue a lot with your line of thought.

    #89 is the only one that doesn’t ring a bell…maybe I’ll look it up when it isn’t 12:30 am!

    Very good points all around – especially the one about things changing within an album.

  6. Agree for the most part, I have no idea why they would think Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Motorhead belong on the same list as the Foo Fighters and Journey. Where did they pull the songs from and please God why was Bret Michaels the host? If he has anymore plastic surgery done, he’ll end up looking like Daisy from his last Rock of Love show.

    Daisy. *shivers* That chick was just…messed…up.

  7. #56 as far as Warrant goes, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ is, in my opinion, their only true “hard rock” song. But ‘Cherry Pie’ had Bobbi Brown in the video when she was really hot so for a countdown on a video channel I suppose it makes sense. 😉

    Yeah, “Uncle Tom” was pretty good, but I have a soft spot for that because they were playing it while opening for the Crue on the Feelgood tour, so I heard the song before that album came out. Considering I didn’t go to many concerts at that time, it was a pretty big deal to me.

    “Down Boys” isn’t bad, either, really.

  8. Some of the songs you said you had to look up hurt my heart just a little bit.

    Which ones? Buckcherry is just because it’s too new, and most of my new music purchases tend to be death/black metal.

  9. Noooo Rainbow and Thin Lizzy…classic stuff! 🙂

    Yeah, I really don’t know much Rainbow at all, sadly. I don’t really know as much Purple as I probably should.

    The Lizzy is the one I said I recognized once I heard it. But c’mon, it’s a great song, but tell me you wouldn’t take AC/DC/s “Jailbreak” instead… Bon Scott and his hairy chest, the guys in uniforms, the cheesy explosions? 🙂

  10. You’re talking to a HUGE Thin Lizzy fan and you can’t compare their ‘Jailbreak’ to AC/DC’s. Completely different animals and I love them both dearly.

    I could hook you up with some Rainbow AND Deep Purple. I know…you’re shocked.

    Hmmm. I just might take you up on that one!

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