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200 Greatest Punk Rock Songs of the '70s, '80s, and '90s

Updated on August 9, 2019
Ansel Pereira profile image

I have been an online writer for over two years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

Punk music is a popular genre in rock music. The punk movement that emerged in the '70s went on to become one of the most powerful musical movements in rock history. The world witnessed a revolution that came in the form of Punk. Acts associated with punk stemmed from the garage rock school of music, in which catchy riffs were the keynote structure of songs.


The Arrival of Punk Rock: The Early Years

In musical contexts the term ‘punk’ is believed to be first used by few American music critics in the early 70s to describe the growing movement of garage bands and their devoted followers. The early punk movement started taking roots in the late 60s as garage bands started experimenting with excessively short format songs that had a message loud and clear. As the punk movement emerged further the genre got popular but distanced itself from mainstream music. Musicians produced their music independently and started distributing their records through informal channels. The early punk movement in the late 60s and 70s has had a profound effect on punk subculture.

While classic punk is not in the realms of mainstream, bands in this genre have had a cult following globally. The underground punk movement has struck the right chords with teenage angst and rebellion. Typically the punk sound is characterized by stripped down instrumentation in fast paced songs, hard-edged melodies and offbeat singing styles. Distorted power chords form the crux of punk rock songs. The lyrical content in punk is often found to be political and anti-establishment in core forms. In present times the term ‘garage rock’ is used as an umbrella term and represents various musical movements that have branched into varied punk subgenres.


The Punk Scene and Punk Subculture

In America bands such as The Ramones, Television and New York Dolls are recognized as the flag bearers of the punk movement. In London the punk movement in the 70s was started by bands such as Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash. Towards the end of the 70s punk rock spread its roots globally. The genre became a cultural phenomenon with UK becoming the hub for a thriving punk scene.

The local underground punk scene in America, London and Australia took major shape and remained loyal to its roots refraining from mainstream. Through the punk scene that became rampant in the late 70s and early 80s emerged punk subculture where youth found freedom of expression in the form of rebellion, clothing and a plethora of anti-authoritarian ideologies.

T-shirts with offensive messages became exceedingly popular in punk subculture and so did spike bands and leather jackets. In the early 80s punk subgenres flourished with hardcore punk, anarcho punk and street punk becoming the dominant segments in punk. The 80s was a transitional period for punk. Musicians in the punk scene also started being associated with new wave, post punk, noise rock and alternative.


The Punk Sound in the 90s

All the experimentation of punk musicians in the 80s helped shape and develop the pop-punk sound which has become an integral part of mainstream. Bands such as Green Day and The Offspring took the pop punk genre to a new level and in the bargain also gained a large fan base from other music genres. The 90s represented a new era of punk. While loyalists of the classic punk sound are critical of many punk bands of the 90s succumbing to mainstream, the new punk sound of the bands in the 90s did bring in a larger audience in the realms of punk. While the school of thought on classic punk and new punk differ, the truth is punk will only grow to become a bigger and more powerful entity in the realms of music.

The lines below showcase an epic list of the best punk songs of the 70s 80s and 90s.


200 Greatest Punk Rock Songs of the 70s 80s and 90s

  1. Anarchy in the U.K.- Sex Pistols (1977)
  2. Personality Crisis- New York Dolls (1973)
  3. Blitzkrieg Bop- The Ramones (1976)
  4. Rise Above- Black Flag (1981)
  5. Search and Destroy- The Stooges (1973)
  6. Rock The Casbah- The Clash (1981)
  7. Heart of the City- Television (1977)
  8. Oh Bondage Up Yours!- X Ray Spex (1978)
  9. White Riot- The Clash (1977)
  10. New Rose- The Damned (1983)
  11. Should I Stay Or Should I Go- The Clash (1982)
  12. All The Small Things- Blink 182 (1999)
  13. Smash it Up- The Damned (1979)
  14. Gary Gilmore’s Eyes- The Adverts (1978)
  15. I Wanna Be Sedated- The Ramones (1978)
  16. God Save The Queen- Sex Pistols (1977)
  17. Basket Case- Green Day (1994)
  18. London Calling- The Clash (1979)
  19. Holiday In Cambodia- Dead Kennedys (1978)
  20. Borstal Breakout- Sham 69 (1978)
  21. Ever Fallen In Love- Buzzcocks (1978)
  22. Whip It- Devo (1980)
  23. Teenage Kicks- The Undertones (1978)
  24. What’s My Age Again?- Blink 182 (1999)
  25. Lust for Life- Iggy Pop (1977)
  26. Psycho Killer- Talking Heads (1977)
  27. X Offender- Blondie (1976)
  28. Video Killed the Radio Star- The Buggles (1980)
  29. Another Girl Another Planet- The Only Ones (1978)
  30. Josie- Blink 182 (1997)
  31. California Uber Alles- Dead Kennedys (1978)
  32. Suspect Device- Stiff Little Fingers (1979)
  33. Good Riddance- Green Day (1997)
  34. One Way Or Another- Blondie (1978)
  35. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker- The Ramones (1977)
  36. New Noise- Refused (1998)
  37. Alternative Ulster- Stiff Little Fingers (1979)
  38. Dancing With Myself- Billy Idol (1982)
  39. Complete Control- The Clash (1977)
  40. Hangin on the Telephone- Blondie (1978)
  41. Your Generation- Generation X (1978)
  42. Call Me- Blondie (1980)
  43. My Own Worst Enemy- Lit (1999)
  44. The True Wheel- Brian Eno (1974)
  45. Blister in the Sun- The Violent Femmes (1983)
  46. Rockaway Beach- The Ramones (1977)
  47. Damaged Goods- Gang of Four (1979)
  48. Shot By Both Sides- Magazine (1978)
  49. All My Fault- Fenix TX (1997)
  50. Don’t Want To Know if you are Lonely- Husker Du (1986)
  51. I Fought The Law- The Clash (1977)
  52. Stand and Deliver- Adam and the Ants (1981)
  53. Dead Man’s Party- Oingo Boingo (1985)
  54. Love Comes in Spurts- Richard Hell and the Voidoids (1977)
  55. No More Heroes- The Stranglers (1977)
  56. Welcome To Paradise- Green Day (1991)
  57. Pretty Vacant- Sex Pistols (1977)
  58. Feeling Called Love- Wire (1977)
  59. Teen Age Riot- Sonic Youth (1988)
  60. Dammit- Blink 182 (1997)
  61. Buddy Holly- Weezer (1994)
  62. Holidays In The Sun- Sex Pistols (1977)
  63. Last Caress- Misfits (1997)
  64. Just Like Honey- The Jesus and Mary Chain (1985)
  65. Babylon’s Burning- The Ruts (1979)
  66. A Forest- The Cure (1980)
  67. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll- Ian Dury (1977)
  68. Here In Your Bedroom- Goldfinger (1996)
  69. The Modern Lovers- She Cracked (1976)
  70. Time Bomb- Rancid (1995)
  71. Cars- Gary Numan (1979)
  72. Pretty Fly- The Offspring (1998)
  73. Human Fly- The Cramps (1978)
  74. Let Me Dream If I Want To (Amphetamine Blues)- Mink DeVille (1976)
  75. Mercy Seat- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1988)
  76. Ghost on The Highway- The Gun Club (1981)
  77. Do Anything You Wanna Do- Eddie and the Hot Rods (1977)
  78. Teenage Lobotomy- The Ramones (1977)
  79. Radio, Radio- The Attractions (1978)
  80. Johnny- Suicide (1977)
  81. The Kids Aren’t Alright- The Offspring (1998)
  82. I Am The Fly- Wire (1978)
  83. Longview- Green Day (1994)
  84. Psycho Therapy- The Ramones (1983)
  85. Bro Hymn- Pennywise (1991)
  86. Typical Girls- The Slits (1979)
  87. Fiction Romance- Buzzcocks (1978)
  88. Lake of Fire- Meat Puppets (1984)
  89. Punk Rock Girl- The Dead Milkmen (1988)
  90. Hit or Miss- New Found Glory (1999)
  91. Neat Neat Neat- The Damned (1995)
  92. Safety in Numbers- The Adverts (1977)
  93. The Pop Group- Thief of Fire (1979)
  94. Say It Ain’t So- Weezer (1994)
  95. Mirror In The Bathroom- The Beat (1980)
  96. Institutionalized- Suicidal Tendencies (1983)
  97. Live Fast Die Young- Circle Jerks (1980)
  98. Flagpole Sitta- Harvey Danger (1997)
  99. Domino- The Cramps (1978)
  100. The Passenger- Iggy Pop (1977)
  101. Can This Be- Wipers (1981)
  102. Shoulder to the Wheel- Saves the Day (1999)
  103. Totally Wired- The Fall (1980)
  104. I Remember- Suicide (1977)
  105. 1 2 X U- Wire (1977)
  106. Action Time Vision- Alternative TV (1978)
  107. Ruby Soho- Rancid (1995)
  108. Do You Remember Rock- The Ramones (1980)
  109. That’s When I Reach for my Revolver- Mission to Burma (1985)
  110. Johnny Are You Queer- Josie Cotton (1982)
  111. Down on the Street- The Stooges (1970)
  112. Aliens Exist- Blink 182 (1999)
  113. Rob a Bank- The Pop Group (1980)
  114. The KKK Took My Baby Away- The Ramones (1981)
  115. Sonic Reducer- Dead Boys (1977)
  116. Meet The Creeper- Destroy All Monsters (1979)
  117. Full Moon In My Pocket- Swell Maps (1979)
  118. John Wayne was a Nazi- MDC (1981)
  119. Happy Birthday- The Birthday Party (1980)
  120. Razor Burn- Lagwagon (1995)
  121. Public Image Ltd- The Cowboy Song (1978)
  122. Come Out And Play- The Offspring (1994)
  123. Redd Cross- Linda Blair (1982)
  124. See A Little Light- Bob Mould (1989)
  125. May 16- Lagwagon (1998)
  126. American Jesus- Bad Religion (1993)
  127. White Wedding- Billy Idol (1982)
  128. Bored- Destroy All Monsters (1978)
  129. I Don’t Need To Tell Her- The Lurkers (1978)
  130. Here Comes Your Man- Pixies (1989)
  131. Slow Death- Flamin’ Groovies (1972)
  132. Be Stiff- Devo (1978)
  133. Bad Habit- The Offspring (1994)
  134. Where Eagles Dare- Misfits (1998)
  135. Brainwash- Flipper (1981)
  136. Chinese Rock- The Ramones (1980)
  137. A Town Called Malice- The Jam (1982)
  138. My Generation- Green Day (1991)
  139. California Sun- The Dictators (1975)
  140. Vienna- Ultravox (1980)
  141. Heartbreakers- Born to Lose (1977)
  142. Requiem- Killing Joke (1980)
  143. Once In A Lifetime- Talking Heads (1980)
  144. Ghost of Princes in Towers- Rich Kids (1978)
  145. Need You Around- Smoking Popes (1995)
  146. 25 Cent Giraffes- Lifetime (1997)
  147. Self Esteem- The Offspring (1994)
  148. Free Money- Patti Smith (1975)
  149. Monkey Gone To Heaven- Pixies (1989)
  150. Orgasm Addict- Buzzcocks (1989)
  151. Berlin- Crawling Chaos (1980)
  152. Punk Rawk Show- MxPx (1995)
  153. As My Wife Says- The Only Ones (1978)
  154. Pink Turns Into Blue- Husker Du (1984)
  155. Boys Don’t Cry- The Cure (1980)
  156. Ant Music- Adam and the Ants (1980)
  157. Jeffrey I Hear You- The Girls (1979)
  158. New Town- The Slits (1979)
  159. Man With The Dogs- Dead Kennedys (1979)
  160. I Have a Date- The Vandals (1995)
  161. Jet Boy Jet Girl- Elton Motello (1977)
  162. El Scorcho- Weezer (1996)
  163. I’m The One- Descendents (1996)
  164. Rock Lobster- The B-52s (1970)
  165. Adventures Close To Home- The Raincoats (1979)
  166. Top of the Pops- The Rezillos (1978)
  167. Our Lips Are Sealed- The Go Go’s (1981)
  168. You’re Driving Me- The Cravats (1981)
  169. Don’t You- Simple Minds (1985)
  170. My Little Needle- Alkaline Trio (1998)
  171. Adam’s Song- Blink-182 (1999)
  172. Bullion- Millencolin (1995)
  173. Why Don’t You Get A Job?- The Offspring (1998)
  174. I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone- The Ataris (1999)
  175. Linoleum- NOFX (1994)
  176. Just Like Heaven- The Cure (1987)
  177. Kill The Poor- The Dead Kennedys (1978)
  178. Fairytale in the Supermarket- The Raincoats (1979)
  179. She’s Like Heroin to Me- The Gun Club (1981)
  180. Heart of Glass- Blondie (1978)
  181. That’s Too Bad- Tubeway Army (1978)
  182. Clavicle- Alkaline Trio (1988)
  183. (But Then) She Spoke- The Vandals (1996)
  184. Burning Down The House- The Talking Heads (1983)
  185. All Night Party- A Certain Ratio (1979)
  186. San Dimas High School Football Rules!- The Ataris (1999)
  187. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend- The Ramones (1976)
  188. All Kindsa Girls- The Real Kids (1977)
  189. This Is Pop?- XTC (1978)
  190. When I Come Around- Green Day (1994)
  191. If The Kids Are United- Sham 69 (1987)
  192. C.P.K.- Unwritten Law (1994)
  193. Solitary Confinement- The Weirdos (1978)
  194. True Confessions- The Undertones (1979)
  195. Atmosphere- Joy Division (1980)
  196. Hong Kong Garden- Siouxsie and the Banashees (1978)
  197. My Sharona- The Knack (1979)
  198. She Found You- Samiam (1997)
  199. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais (1977)
  200. Pay To Cum- Bad Brains (1982)

Which is the Best Punk Rock Song Ever?

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© 2017 Ansel Pereira


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