Kick your Rocktober off right with the greatest rock songs in history.

Kick Your Rocktober Off Right With the Greatest Rock Songs in History

Kick Your Rocktober Off Right With the Greatest Rock Songs in History

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Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 1 2017 11:08 PM

Kick Your Rocktober Off Right With the Greatest Rock Songs in History


Joel Robine/AFP/Getty Images

Rocktober! Rawktober! Roquetober! However you spell it, the best month of the year has finally arrived, that 31-day span between Ska-tember and NeoFolkvember when only rock music will do. So to help you get your Rocktober off to a hard rockin’, jive-talkin’, door-knockin’, smock-frockin’ good start, we’ve gathered the hottest rock songs in history and embedded them here, ready for you to listen to all Rocktober long. So rock over London, rock on, Chicago, and rock out, Slate readers, with these Rocktacular Rocktober Rocktasterpieces!

“We Will Rock You (The Rock Cycle),” by Emily B.


From the instantly legendary backbeat to the distinctive Vox AC30 guitar sound in the solo, “We Will Rock You (The Rock Cycle)” earned its place in the Rocktober Hall of Fame the very first time it was performed. But if you only know “We Will Rock You (The Rock Cycle)” from stadium renditions of the inferior version recorded by Queen—in which all the facts about rocks have been excised to appeal to a more mainstream audience—you’ve never really celebrated Rocktober at all.

“The Cracklin’s What’s Happenin’,” by General Foods

At first listen, it seems blasphemous to celebrate Rocktober with a song that has as many disco touches as this 1979 headbanger from General Foods. But when the chorus kicks in, all the slap bass in the world won’t fool you into thinking Discoember has come early: “The Cracklin’s What’s Happenin’” is a Rocktober jam through and through.

“I Wanna Rock,” by Twisted Sister


Documentary film normally has no place at a Rocktober party, but this Fredrick-Wiseman-style vérité exploration of high school in the 1980s is still the most probing, insightful portrait of the people and institutions who stand in the way of Rocktober that has ever been committed to celluloid. We’ve come a long way since the grim Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Rocktobers of years past, but the question at the heart of “I Wanna Rock” is still chillingly prescient: All right, Mister Sister, stand up and tell the class: What do you want to do with your life?

“The Pet Rocks are Coming,” by Walter Rockite

This was an actual record you could pay real money for. In fact, you still can.

“Rock Cycle Rap,” by Mr. Lee


Rocktober purists may frown at Mr. Lee’s genre-bending mix of rap-rock, rock-rap, slap-rock, mock-rap, jock-crap, zap-rock, clock-snap, bebop, hip-hop, and R&B, but for the rest of us, he’s a one-man Rocktober Revolution.

“Rocky Top,” by the Osborne Brothers

It all started here, with the song that forever defined the sound of rock music: tight harmonies, steel guitar, banjo, and, of course, plenty of references to Appalachian bootleggers. Revisit this classic Rocktober hit, and we’re betting you’ll honor Rocktober in your heart and try to keep it all the year.

Happy Rocktober, Rockteverybody! Rock!