This list looks at Foo Fighters songs that were saved until the end of their full-length studio records’ main tracklists. However, bonus tracks, unofficial releases, compilations, EPs and live recordings are not considered here.
These rankings cover the period encompassing the first ten Foo Fighters albums. Two entries are included for a double album, so there are eleven tracks here. They are ranked from worst to best.
The songs often contain a mixture of elements, including those that are quiet and loud, complex and simple, mainstream and alternative.
They range from experiments that didn’t work to some of Foo Fighters’ most excellent music. Certain songs were not very high in these rankings despite being great, and that’s a testament to how brilliant Foo Fighters can be.
11. “Concrete And Gold” (2017)
Invoking heavenly light and devilish darkness, “Concrete And Gold” is the title track from the band’s 2017 album. According to Billboard, the song features Shawn Stockman, a member of R&B group Boyz II Men, on background vocals. This move is so mainstream, it’s left-field.
Similarly strange is the recruitment of Greg Kurstin, who serves here with Foo Fighters as co-producer, as the credits on the website Allmusic show. The latter has a reputation as a “pop mastermind” (according to Vinyl Reviews) and Dave Grohl describes him as a “brilliant jazz musician“.
The song itself is even weirder than the choice of those collaborating with the band. Painfully slow and tedious, it might be Foo Fighters’ worst music yet. But at least it’s ambitious.
10. “I Am A River” (2014)
The Sonic Highways album showcases eight Foo Fighters songs. Each one was written and recorded in a different US city. This process was shown in a documentary series that’s also called Sonic Highways. “I Am A River” was made in New York City as part of those projects.
With its considerable length, passionate singing in places, and dramatic strings at the end, this song is apparently meant to be epic. Actually, it drags along without many moments of interest.
9. “End Over End” (2005)
The 2005 double album In Your Honour begins with a number of heavy tracks. Apart from a bonus track called “The Sign”, which was sometimes included, “End Over End” closes that section.
Its lyrics are apparently based, as one might expect, on endings. Grohl sings at different times, “Burn all the candles out“, “I can’t start until I’ve seen the end” and “One day we’ll be reborn“. In general, the song’s words are meaningful but not as clear as they could be.
Musically, the track treads familiar territory. It starts with a single guitar, vocals are added, and then things gets louder. It builds with layers of guitars, and some solos are included for good measure.
This formula often works, so the band could do worse than continue with it. But there’s no innovation and not much intrigue here musically. That said, it may be harsh to call it rock-by-numbers.
8. “Love Dies Young” (2021)
“Loves Dies Young” features a galloping riff that’s similar to one found on “No Son Of Mine”, another track from the same LP. At the end of the song, there’s a guitar riff that recalls The Cure. There are even soulful backing vocals at one point.
The lyrics are not consistently high-quality. The second line effectively repeats what was said in the first line. Also, the chorus seems too basic. As a result, the music carries the song. But some of this song’s lyrical lines are better than others.
As NME tells us, Grohl mentioned grooves when discussing the style of the album Medicine to Midnight and its inspirations.This is probably the most danceable song the Foo Fighters have made about death and heartbreak.
Despite its subject matter, this song helps demonstrate how Medicine To Midnight “was really designed“, as Dave Grohl says, “to be that Saturday night party album.”
7. “Razor” (2005)
“Razor” features Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. Understated but interesting, it closes In Your Honour’s laid-back section.
The song is intriguing lyrically, possibly more than any other Foo Fighters song that makes something approaching lyrical sense.
In the verses, the lyricist seems to be talking to a person. But lines elsewhere include “Sweet and divine / Razor of mine” and “Day after day / Cutting away“.
What do the words mean? In the same way that a beard is trimmed to perfection using a razor, they could be talking about how someone cuts away at flaws to improve another person.
6. “Exhausted” (1995)
“Exhausted” comes from the album Foo Fighters, which was – maybe confusingly – a Dave Grohl solo outing, put together before a full band was in place. Another possible surprise is that “Exhausted” contains a great deal of energy as well as weariness.
The song has a decidedly lo-fi, alternative vibe. Despite this backdrop, which could alienate some, the feelings that the song expresses are almost universal. Unhappiness and anger flows through this track, even during the parts that rock hard.
5. “New Way Home” (1997)
The conclusion to the main tracklist of The Colour And The Shape is an optimistic end to a record that’s quite often angry. “New Way Home” shows the band’s punk roots, but also displays their knack for great pop/rock.
At one point, everything drops out and all you can hear are quiet power chords and Grohl practically whispering his vocals, before parts are gradually added. Then the band goes full throttle until the music has faded out.
4. “Come Back” (2002)
The song which closes One By One features multiple riffs that are as dark and muscular as a huge black truck driving through Death Valley. No wonder that Grohl played for Queens Of The Stone Age (on drums) around the time this song was made.
Showcasing an excellent use of dynamics, there’s a grandiose section where the music breaks down and slowly builds back up. Pessimistic in places but possessing hope, the lyrics are also powerful.
Despite these strengths, “Come Back” is – like “I Am A River” – overly repetitive and not interesting enough to justify going on for seven minutes.
3. “M. I. A.” (1999)
Much of the album There Is Nothing Left To Lose is really beautiful, with all the majesty of a snow-capped mountain. This brilliance is probably amplified further by the production, but wouldn’t be achieved without great performances and songwriting.
Lyrical highlights from this song include its humourous reference to “mannequins” and the line, “Cheap imitation of revelation is now“.
The best thing about “M.I.A.” is its drum track. In the Taylor Hawkins Drumming Masterclass, Hawkins says he played on this song. This song didn’t have as much emotive power or lyrical quality as the greatest two tracks here, but it’s a fantastic all-rounder.
2. “Home” (2007)
Power and heaviness doesn’t always mean crunching metal or distorted alternative rock. The emotional, piano-led “Home” proves that.
On this track, Grohl sings: “Wish I were with you, but I couldn’t stay / Every direction leads me away“. The best lyrics are saved until later: “People I’ve loved; I have no regrets / Some I remember; some I forget / Some of them living; some of them dead / And all I want is to be home“.
In these examples, the words are excellent in their directness, vulnerability and beauty, so maybe it’s best that the music doesn’t distract too much.
Although there is arguably not as much happening here musically in comparison to other songs in this list, what does happen sounds amazing. What is lacking in complexity is made up for to a large extent with sonic and lyrical depth.
1. “Walk” (2011)
The finale from Wasting Light particularly resonates with me as someone who has literally had to learn to “walk again” and also has often had psychological issues with talking. I’m probably more biased than the average reviewer because of that, but I am quite confident that this is the best song on this list.
It features meaningful lyrics and an effective instrumental backing. The song isn’t too simple or too complex, packing a punch while also being subtle and delicate in some ways.
While the album from which it comes is often gloomy, this song’s joy and triumphant power shine through. “Walk” is like a feel-good ending to a film plot that’s full of adversity.
Words by David J. Lownds