Initially released in 2005, Guitar Hero took the world by storm. Blending gaming with musical skills, the series has continued to grow in popularity with every successive edition that has been introduced.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Guitar Hero series is that it requires no prior experience of playing a real guitar. Furthermore, it is a great introduction to playing the instrument.
Guitar Hero has included many of the most iconic songs in recorded music history. This list provides you with the 30 best songs from Guitar Hero, from many different eras and styles.
- 1. Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
- 2. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
- 3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
- 4. Motorhead – Ace of Spades
- 5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
- 6. Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
- 7. Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights
- 8. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
- 9. Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
- 10. Queen – Killer Queen
- 11. Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name
- 12. The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
- 13. Rush – Tom Sawyer
- 14. Santana – Black Magic Woman
- 15. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
- 16. The Clash – I Fought the Law
- 17. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
- 18. Foo Fighters – All My Life
- 19. The Black Keys – Tighten Up
- 20. Jack White – Lazaretto
- 21. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl
- 22. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze
- 23. Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
- 24. Linkin Park – One Step Closer
- 25. Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box
- 26. Oasis – Some Might Say
- 27. The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
- 28. The Strokes – Reptilia
- 29. Tenacious D – Tribute
- 30. Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
1. Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Taken from their debut album Appetite for Destruction, Sweet Child o’ Mine is one of Guns N’ Roses’ best-known tracks. The blend of rhythm and lead playing makes this one of the top Guitar Hero songs.
The song features some incredible guitar playing by Slash, with the iconic intro riff being particularly fun and challenging to play.
2. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Smells Like Teen Spirit is amongst the most famous songs in Guitar Hero 5. It’s a great choice for beginners and intermediate players looking to improve their rhythm.
Kurt Cobain’s unique, primitive guitar playing departed from the technical styles that had dominated rock for decades. This track is a perfect example of his simple, yet powerful style.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
Featured in the Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades game, RHCP’s Can’t Stop is the perfect blend of syncopated, funky rhythm guitar and melodic lead playing.
The track was a single from the band’s hugely successful 2002 LP By the Way, with innovative guitarist John Frusciante showcasing his exceptional songwriting ability throughout.
4. Motorhead – Ace of Spades
Heavy metal and Guitar Hero go together brilliantly. This legendary track by Motorhead has a chugging, heavily distorted guitar part that will test your stamina and skills.
The fast tempo of this track requires intense focus to nail each part, and you can expect to improve your timing considerably by mastering it in Guitar Hero.
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
The tone of the lead guitar in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1974 classic rock track, Free Bird, is exquisite. Smooth and immersive, it glides over the rhythm section effortlessly until the fast-paced end section when Allen Collins shows his virtuosic style.
This is undoubtedly one of Guitar Heroes’ best songs for skilled players who enjoy tempo changes.
6. Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
Smoke on the Water is a go-to song for novice guitar players. It allows you to build your skills in Guitar Hero, and familiarize yourself with the notes and controls.
The catchiness of the main guitar riff makes it easy to remember the rhythm, and you can expect to see quick improvements in your playing by mastering this track.
7. Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights
Added to Guitar Hero Live in 2016, Crazy Crazy Nights by Kiss will test your ability to lock in with the rest of the band.
This song is perhaps the finest example of Kiss’ ability to write catchy guitar riffs that are accessible to beginners.
8. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
Metallica’s 1992 hit Nothing Else Matters is considered a heavy metal masterpiece, and in my opinion, it is one of the most satisfying songs in Guitar Hero’s catalog.
The dynamic variations in the guitar playing will keep you on your toes throughout, and locking into Lars Ulrich’s crashing drums while strumming the chords is a fantastic experience.
9. Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
I believe that Matt Bellamy is one of the most underrated guitarists of the past thirty years. Supermassive Black Hole, released in 2006, is the perfect example of his technical, classically-inspired style.
This song is a real challenge when played on the harder difficulties of Guitar Hero. It will test your speed, dexterity, and coordination.
10. Queen – Killer Queen
Whether you’re a Queen fan or not, it’s hard to deny the incredible fun that guitarists can have when playing along to their tracks. Killer Queen, with its complex chord changes and insanely catchy solo, is a great choice for Guitar Hero players.
There are many sections to this song, so it forces you to concentrate to make sure you nail the transitions. This is a valuable skill to develop, both in the Guitar Hero game and when playing a real axe.
11. Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name
Initially featured on Guitar Hero II, and later in Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Killing in the Name is a great song to thrash along to.
Tom Morello’s bluesy riffs lock in tightly with the bass and drum parts, allowing you to work on your rhythm when playing this timeless classic.
12. The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
The Ramones are a great entry point for any aspiring guitarist, both in the real world and the virtual world of Guitar Hero. This classic punk track is played with a downstroke strumming pattern and is accessible to beginners.
The simplicity of I Wanna Be Sedated is what makes it such fun to play on Guitar Hero and a real instrument.
13. Rush – Tom Sawyer
Released in 1981, Rush’s Tom Sawyer is an exceptional display of compositional genius. This is one of the best songs on Guitar Hero if you’re looking for a challenge!
Playing along with the late Neil Peart’s drums is an opportunity that all guitarists should cherish, and Guitar Hero has made that possible by adding this classic to their catalog.
14. Santana – Black Magic Woman
Originally written by the iconic founder of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green, Black Magic Woman requires expert feel and technique to play on the guitar.
This bluesy number is featured on Guitar Hero 3 and is incredibly difficult to play in expert mode. Santana’s unique style of playing pays homage to Green’s original while adding new flavors into the mix.
15. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
In my opinion, grunge rockers Soundgarden don’t get enough credit for the stellar work they did in the 1990s. Black Hole Sun is a masterpiece and is a great tune to play on Guitar Hero.
16. The Clash – I Fought the Law
English punk rockers The Clash rose to prominence in the 1970s off the back of the success of bands like The Ramones across the pond.
I Fought the Law is one of their most recognizable songs, despite it being a cover. Playing this track on Guitar Hero is a challenge due to the complex rhythmic changes and rung-out chords, but it’s very satisfying once you nail it!
17. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
Ziggie Stardust is part of a small group of songs that you can instantly identify by the very first chord that is struck. With its simple rhythmic strumming pattern, this track is lots of fun to play on Guitar Hero.
18. Foo Fighters – All My Life
Foo Fighters are one of the most frequently featured bands across the Guitar Hero series. Their dark, heavy number, All My Life, is included in both Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, and Guitar Hero III.
The fast-paced note transitions and chugging rhythms are hard to perfect, but learning this track on Guitar Hero will improve your ability considerably.
19. The Black Keys – Tighten Up
The release of their 2010 album, Brothers, propelled two-piece garage rockers, The Black Keys, to worldwide fame. This track is one of the standout compositions on that album.
Although the guitar parts in this song may sound fairly simple at first, it requires focus and skill to play it well on Guitar Hero. the breakdown section is particularly enjoyable to play along to.
20. Jack White – Lazaretto
Few guitarists have had the same influence in the past twenty years as Jack White. Lazaretto is one of his finest solo compositions, combining smooth vocals with crunchy, catchy guitar licks.
This song is featured in Guitar Hero Live, and even the most skilled gamers will find it a challenge on the maximum difficulty setting.
21. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl
Are You Gonna Be My Girl is Australian outfit Jet’s most popular song. Released in 2003, it bears similarities to Lust for Life by Iggy Pop in terms of the drum rhythm and guitar riff.
This track was featured on Guitar Hero: On Tour and Guitar Hero Live, and is very enjoyable to jam along to thanks to its rhythmic changes and strong melody.
22. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze
This list of Guitar Hero best songs wouldn’t be complete without an addition from my favorite guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix.
Released in 1970, Purple Haze, with its stomping lead riff and wah-draped chord patterns is a real challenge even for the most accomplished of Guitar Hero players. Over half a century after its original release, guitarists are still attempting to even come close to Hendrix’s unique style of playing this song.
23. Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
Are You Gonna Go My Way has been featured in two editions of Guitar Hero – World Tour and Live. This track is appropriately positioned after Jimi Hendrix, as Kravitz’s style is often compared to his.
This song has a prominent lead guitar riff which takes real concentration to master in Guitar Hero.
When Linkin Park burst onto the scene in 2000 with their debut single, One Step Closer, few could have predicted the success that the band would go on to experience.
Featured in Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades, this song showcases Chester Bennington’s versatile vocal style and guitarist Brad Delson’s impressive ability to produce catchy, unique riffs.
25. Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box
The second Nirvana song to feature on our list of famous songs in Guitar Hero is Heart Shaped Box, from the follow up to their hugely successful sophomore album Nevermind, entitled In Utero.
While this track lacks the heaviness of many Nirvana songs, its simple riff is a great starting point for those first learning the ropes of Guitar Hero.
26. Oasis – Some Might Say
Hailing from Manchester, England, Oasis rose to prominence in the early 1990s. Their track, Some Might Say, is one of their best songs in Guitar Hero, and is a lot of fun to jam along to.
The chord sequence used in this song by songwriter Noel Gallagher is fairly simplistic, but mastering the strumming pattern in Guitar Hero may take some time.
27. The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
Few bands have enjoyed the prolonged success that The Rolling Stones have over the past six decades. There are many Stones’ tracks featured in the Guitar Hero series, but Paint It Black is a standout.
With its flamenco-style lead riff and pulsating rhythm, this track will keep you busy for many hours on Guitar Hero.
28. The Strokes – Reptilia
The Strokes were at the forefront of the indie rock revolution in the early 2000s. Their song, Reptilia, from their second studio album entitled Room on Fire, is one of the most popular Guitar Hero songs for all abilities.
The repeating lead guitar riff played by Albert Hammond Jr. requires a good level of dexterity in your fingers, and when the guitar solo kicks in at the end of the track, it becomes a real challenge to keep up.
29. Tenacious D – Tribute
Tenacious D is categorized as a comedy band, but in reality, they made some incredible music. Fronted by actor Jack Black with his friend Kyle Gass on guitar, the duo released Tribute as part of their self-titled debut album in 2001.
This epic display of guitar playing lends itself perfectly to Guitar Hero and is very hard to master in the game.
30. Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
In 2012, Arctic Monkeys released AM, which was their fifth consecutive number one album in the UK. The lead single from that album was R U Mine, which has been featured on Guitar Hero Live.
This rock track includes a punchy, pentatonic guitar riff that is quite easy to play but becomes more complex as the song progresses.