Search And Destroy: 40 Essential Punk Rock Songs

Search And Destroy:

40 Essential Punk Rock Songs

Punk Rock reached the masses in 1977, 42 years ago. A rebel statement of Rock music and rejection from (almost) everything that was related to the 1960’s, Punk also was culturally and politically relevant. The origins can be traced back to 60’s bands such as The Kinks, MC5 and The Stooges, a few of the 60’s bands that were embraced by Punk Rockers in the late 70’s. The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog” it’s probably one of the first Punk songs featured in an album, but their 1972 song “Search And Destroy” symbolizes the full birth of Punk. Following is a list of 40 essential Punk Rock tracks.



“Search And Destroy” – Iggy and The Stooges, 1972
The birth of Punk as we know, this 1972 track from the album “Raw Power”, was mixed by David Bowie. Iggy Pop claims his place in history as the original Punk Rocker, proving that Punk was born in Detroit and not in London (though ironically this track was recorded in London)

“Anarchy In The U.K” – The Sex Pistols, 1977
The debut single by The Sex Pistols, to this day the epitome of Punk Rock and “Anarchy In The U.K” it’s signature song. Originally recorded in 1976, the song became popular in 1977 during the Punk Rock explosion a little bit everywhere around the globe.

“Pretty Vacant“ – The Sex Pistols, 1977
“God Save The Queen“ – The Sex Pistols, 1977
“My Way“ – Sid Vicious, 1979

“White Riot“ – The Clash, 1977
Like every music wave, the Punk also had two best selling bands that sort of “clashed” in popularity with each other. In the 60’s there was The Beatles and The Rolling Stones during the “British Invasion”, in the 90’s we had Nirvana and Pearl Jam in Grunge, Oasis and Blur in Britpop, and in 70’s Punk it was The Clash and The Sex Pistols. The Clash gained notoriety with “White Riot”, an aggressive Punk Rock song, a formula that the band later would drop in favor of more polished sounds.

“New Rose“ – The Damned, 1977

“Blitzkrieg Bop“ – Ramones, 1976
Punk could be fun, and the American Ramones were there to prove it. Their songs were about fun times and never tried to be political or anything else but fun Punk music you could dance to. This track was as most of Ramones early work, a 60’s bee-bop inspired song that was easy and catchy. Everyone knows “Hey Ho Let’s Go!”

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“Hate The Police“ – The Dicks, 1980
Punk spread through different branches and sub-genres, in the late 70’s Punk bands were being formed everywhere around the world, in Texas, The Dicks, with Gary Floyd on vocals played a more aggressive branch of Punk and more politically and socially instigated. “Hate The Police” became a classic within American Punk and it’s still covered today by young Punk bands.



“Holiday In Cambodia“ – Dead Kennedys, 1978
“California Ubber Alles“ – Dead Kennedys, 1978
“Oh Bondage! Up Yours!“ – X-Ray Spech, 1978

“Last Caress“ – Misfits, 1980

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Misfits were one of the darkest Punk bands coming out of the American scene. Their songs were dark and Glenn Danzing, the singer sung like Jim Morrison. “Last Caress” released on their first EP 1980 “Beware” became one of their most popular songs and gained some later notoriety when was covered by Metallica.

“I Wanna Be Your Dog“ – The Stooges, 1969

Considered by many as the first Punk song ever put on a record, this Stooges classic got poor acceptance when it was initially released in 1969, but in just a few years would become an anthem for the Punk generation of the late 70’s.

“Personality Crisis“ – New York Dolls, 1973
Before the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren managed the New York Dolls, a loud Rock band from New York that also happened to be cross-dressers. Their rough sound became popular in the mid 70’s New York, triggering the Punk Rock movement that would follow soon. “Personality Crisis” it their most iconic song and an essential Punk track.

“What Do I Get“ – Buzzcocks, 1978
“Ever Fallen In Love“ – Buzzcocks ,1978
“Orgasm Addict“ – Buzzcocks, 1977
“So What“ – Anti-Nowhere League, 1981
“Teenage Kicks“ – The Undertones, 1978
“Neat Neat Neat“ – The Damned, 1977
“Sheena Is A Punk Rocker“ – Ramones, 1977
“I Don’t Care“ – Ramones, 1977
“Ain’t It Fun“ – Dead Boys, 1978
“Son Of Sam“ – Dead Boys, 1978
“Seventeen“ – The Sex Pistols, 1977

“Kick Out The Jams“ – MC5, 1969
Detroit music scene in the late 60’s was pretty heavy in comparison to the rest of the States. MC5 and The Stooges lead the movement, a sort of cataclysm that would give birth to Punk. “Kick Out The Jams” can literally fit as the first written line in Punk Rock book.

“London Calling“ – The Clash, 1979
By 1979 The Clash had dropped their rougher Punk sound in favor to polished and more well crafted songs. If “London Calling” can be called Punk, it’s disputable, the energy is there, the band too. We agree it fits in Punk, even if not in it’s original form.

“Beat On The Brat“ – Ramones, 1976
“I Wanna Be Sedated“ – Ramones, 1978
“Return Of The Rat“ – Wipers, 1980
“Nazi Punks Fuck Off“ – Dead Kennedys, 1981

“Tommy Gun“ – The Clash, 1978



“D-7“ – Wipers, 1980
American northwestern Punk scene in the 80’s were full of high quality bands that had created another sub-genres of Punk, different from the 70’s british Punk and even hardcore punk. It was more melodic, a little bit more dark and fuzzy. The Wipers lead by Greg Sage were one of the most influential band from that scene, which later mutated into Grunge. “D-7”, one of their best songs, gained more notoriety after being covered by Nirvana in the 90’s.

“Circle One“ – Germs, 1980
Californian Punk scene mutated in what later would be called “Hardcore” Punk. The Germs, from Los Angeles, featuring Darby Crash on vocals and Pat Smear on guitar, were one of the first bands developing that style, that was louder and messier. “Circle One” it’s one of their best songs. Sadly the band was short-lived as the singer Darby Crash committed suicide in 1980 at 21.

“No Fun“ – The Stooges, 1969
“TV Eye“ – The Stooges, 1970
“1969“ – The Stooges, 1969
“Sonic Reducer“ – Dead Boys, 1977
“Attitude“ – Misfits, 1980




Listen to these 40 Punk songs on Spotify:

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