All the elements that make up a great rock song tend to be fairly basic. If you know how to put together a steady drumbeat and can play a basic blues shuffle over the top, you’re almost halfway to making a decent rock tune without even realizing it. That was the beginning of rock and roll, and there are certain songs that seem to change the landscape once they were unleashed upon the world.
Then again, not all of the songs that appear on this list necessarily have to be the most complex thing you’ve ever heard either. Throughout rock’s history, these songs signaled a change of the guard in rock music in one way or another, ushering in a new style of rock that most of us would have never thought of before. No artist can get there alone though, and every one of these songs rely on the full band connecting with each other in a telepathic way, working with each other to make something that sounds transcendent when you hear it for the first time.
With the foundation set, each of these songs tend to have amazing lyrics behind them as well, either making colorful imagery in your mind as you bang along to the rest of the song or calling for change in the world that might actually be able to happen by the time the world got their ears on the tune. You don’t have to be a musical genius to change rock history, but as soon as we got ahold of these riffs, the air felt a little different.
10. Eruption - Van Halen
Rock and roll has always been built on the 'don't bore us, get to the chorus' mentality. It's not about using the song as an opportunity to grandstand, and you always have to make sure that there's an actual melody in between the notes to actually get the crowd moving. If you're Eddie Van Halen though, you don't even need too many lyrics to blow minds everywhere.
Around the time when the Sunset Strip was just starting to come into its own, Eruption was when the entire guitar world changed, with Eddie tearing through one of the greatest solos in just under 2 minutes. While this was originally used as a lead in to their cover of the Kinks' You Really Got Me whenever they played live, this would become the blueprint for what the shred era of rock guitar was going to be, taking the bluesy sounds of people like Zeppelin and turning it on its head, all leading up to Eddie's signature tapping licks that he played with both of his hands on the neck of the guitar.
This wasn't just soloing for the hell of it either, always having a sense of melody with lines that were hooks by themselves, like the fast tremolo sections and the almost classical sound of the last few seconds. The guitar may have been the most important instrument in the band, but in these few seconds, the era of Chuck Berry style rock and roll was dead. There was a new guitar god in town.