Music

All 175 AC/DC Songs Ranked From Worst To Best

AC/DC don’t innovate. They do one thing, and they do it bloody well: play rock ‘n’ roll.

ACDC

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AC/DC don’t innovate. They do one thing, and they do it bloody well: play rock ‘n’ roll. That reliability has propelled, and sustained, the band to be one of the most successful in music history.

While they like to stick to the formula, there are differences over the decades either obvious (the Bon era versus the Brian era) or more nuanced (compare the brilliantly rough Fly On The Wall to the dull Rick Rubin polish on Ballbreaker).

So what makes one AC/DC song better than another? The riffs? The chorus? The solo? All of the above? None of the above? We dive into every single the band ever officially released to find out.


175. ‘Big Jack’ [2008]

Look, ‘Big Jack’ starts off fine enough, kicking in with a decent riff. But it all goes to shit with the worst chorus in AC/DC history, sullying the similarly titled live staple ‘The Jack’ in the process. To make things worse, this somehow found its way into the Black Ice Tour setlist.

174. ‘Mistress For Christmas’ [1990]

173. ‘Rock ‘N Roll Dream’ [2008]

172. ‘Caught With Your Pants Down’ [1995]

171. ‘Love Bomb’ [1995]

170. ‘All Screwed Up’ [2000]

169. ‘Cyberspace’ [2000]

168. ‘Burnin’ Alive’ [1995]

167. ‘Meltdown’ [2000]

166. ‘The Honey Roll’ [1995]

165. ‘She’s Got Balls’ [1975]

164. ‘Night Of The Long Knives’ [1981]

163. ‘Got You By The Balls’ [1990]

162. ‘Cover You In Oil’ [1995]

161. ‘Decibel’ [2008]

160. ‘Nick Of Time’ [1988]

159. ‘Emission Control’ [2014]

158. ‘Little Lover’ [1975]

157. ‘Damned’ [2000]

156. ‘Whiskey On The Rocks’ [1995]

155. ‘Spoilin’ For A Fight’ [2008]

154. ‘House Of Jazz’ [2000]

153. ‘Smash ‘N Grab’ [2008]

152. ‘Some Sin For Nuthin’ [1988]

151. ‘Are You Ready?’ [1990]

150. ‘Rising Power’ [1983]

149. ‘Wheels’ [2008]

148. ‘The Furor’ [1995]

147. ‘Squealer’ [1976]

146. ‘Let’s Make It’ [1990]

145. ‘Goodbye & Good Riddance To Bad Luck’ [1990]

144. ‘She Likes Rock ‘n Roll’ [2008]

143. ‘Go Zone’ [1988]

142. ‘Anything Goes’ [2008]

141. ‘War Machine’ [2008]

140. ‘Rocking All The Way’ [2008]

139. ‘Fly On The Wall’ [1985]

138. ‘Stick Around’ [1975]

137. ‘Snake Eye’ [1988]

136. ‘Kissin’ Dynamite’ [1988]

135. ‘Soul Stripper’ [1975]

134. ‘Rockin’ In The Parlour’ [1974]

Rare B-side to ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl’ featuring Dave Evans on vox.

133. ‘Love Song’ [1975]

132. ‘Stormy May Day’ [2008]

131. ‘Skies On Fire’ [2008]

130. ‘Spellbound’ [1981]

129. ‘Inject The Venom’ [1981]

128. ‘Satellite Blues’ [2000]

127. ‘Send For The Man’ [1985]

126. ‘Shot Of Love’ [1990]

125. ‘Two’s Up’ [1988]

124. ‘Put The Finger On You’ [1981]

123. ‘Hard As A Rock’ [1995]

Featuring a lick more chiming than most of AC/DC’s oeuvre, the harmonised melodic plucks add spark to an otherwise decent cut from Ballbreaker.

122. ‘Ruff Stuff’ [1988]

121. ‘Give It Up’ [2000]

120. ‘Snowballed’ [1981]

119. ‘The Razor’s Edge’ [1990]

118. ‘Rock Your Heart Out’ [1990]

117. ‘School Days’ [1975]

116. ‘R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)’ [1976]

115. ‘Play Ball’ [2014]

The first taste of the most recent AC/DC album felt a little cheap, lacking the impact of Black Ice lead single ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Train’, not to mention the sports synch cash-in. Feels more at home in the context of the album, however.

114. ‘Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder’ [2014]

113. ‘D.T’ [1986]

112. ‘Night Prowler’ [1979]

111. ‘Let Me Put My Love Into You’ [1980]

110. ‘Dogs Of War’ [2014]

109. ‘Come And Get It’ [2000]

108. ‘Landslide’ [1983]

107. ‘Walk All Over You’ [1979]

106. ‘You Ain’t Got A Hold On Me’ [1975]

105. ‘Black Ice’ [2008]

104. ‘Shake A Leg’ [1980]

103. ‘Mean Streak’ [1988]

102. ‘Miss Adventure’ [2014]

101. ‘If You Dare’ [1990]

100. ‘Deep In The Hole’ [1983]

99. ‘Down On The Borderline’ [1990]

98. ‘Let’s Get It Up’ [1981]

97. ‘Hell Or High Water’ [1985]

96. ‘Chase The Ace’ [1986]

95. ‘Boogie Man’ [1995]

94. ‘Guns For Hire’ [1983]

93. ‘Playing With Girls’ [1985]

92. ‘Gone Shootin’’ [1978]

91. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer’ [1975]

Does what it says on the tin, as does the majority of AC/DC’s material, Bon putting his heart into plain-face, sweaty aspiration.

90. ‘This House Is On Fire’ [1983]

89. ‘Given The Dog A Bone’ [1980]

88. ‘Shake Your Foundations’ [1985]

87. ‘There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’’ [1976]

86. ‘Fire Your Guns’ [1990]

85. ‘Crabsody In Blue’ [1977]

84. ‘Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll’ [2000]

83. ‘What Do You Do For Money Honey’ [1980]

82. ‘Sink The Pink’ [1985]

81. ‘Sweet Candy’ [2014]

80. ‘Go Down’ [1977]

79. ‘Touch Too Much’ [1979]

78. ‘Breaking The Rules’ [1981]

77. ‘Rock The House’ [2014]

76. ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl?’ [1975]

75. ‘That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll’ [1988]

74. ‘Borrowed Time’ [1988]

73. ‘Ballbreaker’ [1995]

72. ‘Rock The Blues Away’ [2014]

71. ‘Stand Up’ [1985]

70. ‘Carry Me Home’ [1977]

69. ‘Badlands’ [1983]

68. ‘Gimme A Bullet’ [1978]

67. ‘Brain Shake’ [1983]

66. ‘This Means War’ [1988]

65. ‘Moneytalks’ [1990]

The overly upbeat sentiment in ‘Moneytalks’ carried by some puncy as hell riffs, launching into a catchy, if a little cheery, shout-along chorus.

64. ‘Rock Or Bust’ [2014]

63. ‘Fling Thing’ [1986]

62. ‘First Blood’ [1985]

61. ‘Love At First Feel’ [1976]

60. ‘Get It Hot’ [1979]

59. ‘Show Business’ [1975]

58. ‘Rock ‘n Roll Train’ [2008]

57. ‘Heatseeker’ [1988]

Later era AC/DC largely sees a dearth of frenetic tempo sojourns, ‘Heatseeker’ stands as one of the final adrenaline-overload bursts before a few decades of steadier BPMs.

56. ‘Hard Times’ [2014]

55. ‘Cold Hearted Man’ [1978]

54. ‘Hail Caesar’ [1995]

53. ‘Love Hungry Man’ [1979]

52. ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ [2000]

51. ‘Bedlam In Belgium’ [1983]

50. ‘Nervous Shakedown’ [1983]

49. ‘Can’t Stand Still’ [2000]

48. ‘Up To My Neck In You’ [1978]

47. ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ [1975]

46. ‘Have A Drink On Me’ [1980]

45. ‘Big Balls’ [1976]

In which Bon Scott hones into single entendre territory, coming up with one of AC/DC’s truly funniest outings.

44. ‘Flick Of The Switch’ [1983]

43. ‘Kicked In The Teeth’ [1978]

42. ‘Safe In New York City’ [2000]

Terrible timing in retrospect, but it’s a down and dirty, and brilliant, creeper from Stiff Upper Lip.

41. ‘C.O.D.’ [1981]

40. ‘Back In Business’ [1985]

44. ‘Flick Of The Switch’ [1983]

43. ‘Kicked In The Teeth’ [1978]

42. ‘Safe In New York City’ [2000]

Terrible timing in retrospect, but it’s a down and dirty, and brilliant, creeper from Stiff Upper Lip.

41. ‘C.O.D.’ [1981]

40. ‘Back In Business’ [1985]

39. ‘Big Gun’ [1994]

Taken from the Last Action Hero OST, ‘Big Gun’ is a far more successful showcase of Rick Rubin’s production than anything from Ballbreaker. Huge bonus points for the insane Schwarzenegger-starring video.

38. ‘Baptism By Fire’ [2014]

37. ‘Rocker’ [1975]

36. ‘What’s Next To The Moon’ [1978]

35. ‘Down Payment Blues’ [1978]

34. ‘Hold Me Back’ [2000]

33. ‘Live Wire’ [1975]

32. ‘Evil Walks’ [1981]

31. ‘Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)’ [1976]

30. ‘Beating Around The Bush’ [1979]

29. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation’ [1978]

28. ‘Girls Got Rhythm’ [1979]

27. ‘Who Made Who’ [1986]

Somewhat of a stylistic reach, ‘Who Made Who’ pulls off what could be construed as cheesy, synth-like tones, hitting the mark with a belter of a chorus and some finger-tap action from Angus.

26. ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’ [1977]

25. ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ [1977]

24. ‘The Jack’ [1975]

All sense of wry STI metaphor was stripped from once in the live setting, the poker parlance exchanged for more direct allusions to venereal afflictions.

23. ‘Overdose’ [1977]

22. ‘Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’ [1980]

21. ‘Sin City’ [1978]

20. ‘Shoot To Thrill’ [1980]

Probably the most Bon-sounding track on Back In Black, ‘Shoot To Thrill’ could have fit in somewhere on Highway To Hell, here instead as a highlight on an album full of highlights.

19. ‘Shot Down In Flames’ [1979]

In which Angus’s guitar sounds like a goddamn jet fighter at take-off come solo time, capping off Bon’s self-deprecating misfortunes in love.

18. ‘Problem Child’ [1976]

Dedicated to perennial schoolboy Angus, ‘Problem Child’ is a toast to arrested development, and well, being a right bastard.

17. ‘If You Want Blood (You Got It) [1979]

Originally just the title of AC/DC’s first live album, the name was too good to not attribute to a song, so ‘If You Want Blood (You Got It)’ turned up on following LP Highway To Hell, the song worthy of its title.

16. ‘Dog Eat Dog’ [1977]

Another killer underclass anthem from Bon, delivered with gritted teeth.

15. ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) [1975]

Retired from all setlists post since his passing, ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ belongs to Bon Scott, regaling the hard slog reality of the rock ‘n’ roll dream.

14. ‘High Voltage’ [1975]

From the outset, AC/DC were writing rock ‘n’ roll songs about rock ‘n’ roll (just look at how many songs here contain the word “rock” in the title). ‘High Voltage’ was one of the first, and still one of the best, 40 years on.

13. ‘Thunderstruck’ [1990]

After the overwhelming success of Back In Black, AC/DC went through the ‘80s with some solid albums in Flick Of The Switch and Fly On The Wall, but nothing resembling a breakout hit that could match the bevy of Back In Black tracks. Enter ‘Thunderstruck’, with polish in all the right places.

12. ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ [1977]

Pure cheek and a pervading genuine adoration, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ is a gleeful ode to a woman who’s got it all, leaving Bon more than a lil love-struck, or more accurately, lust-struck.

11. ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ [1976]

Acting as a gritty Robin Hood, Bon Scott offers a helping hand to the needy. Outlaw rock ‘n’ roll par excellence.

10. ‘Riff Raff’ [1978]

The billowing rumble threatens the horizon like an all-obliterating hurricane until all the a sudden, the three-hit power chord punch unleashes hell, unrelenting its barrelling momentum.

9. ‘T.N.T.’ [1975]

It doesn’t really get much better than the grunt-along cry of “Oi! Oi! Oi!”, leading into down and dirty, volatile licks, building up to the explosive breakdown of Angus at his most unhinged.

8. ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’ [1981]

Despite its call to arms proclamation, the title track to Back In Black’s follow up has served dutifully as a signature set closer in AC/DC’s arena shows for decades now, replete with mock cannon fire. It’s a slow burner, up until the artillery bursts, then it blows all out to a rapturous boogie, a raucous send-off of pyrotechnic fury.

7. ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ [1980]

AC/DC’s biggest radio hit to date taps into the euphemistic roots of rock ‘n’ roll, pushing the boundaries with underhanded cheek in the line “She told me to come / But I was already there”, while never approaching any level of profanity. An all-time great fuck anthem that you sing along to at your nana’s 90th.

6. ‘Highway To Hell’ [1979]

The title track to Bon Scott’s final album acts as the perfect credit-roll soundtrack, riding out into the hellfire sunset. The establishment of hell as the “promised land” is sheer genius, and typical Bon.

5. ‘Hells Bells’ [1980]

The first apparent sound on Back In Black, the quickfire album in the wake of Bon Scott’s passing, is a sound unheard on any other AC/DC recording, signalling doom with the chime of a church bell, harbinging the proceeding doom. This is where the Highway To Hell leads, unwavering despite a change of captains in between albums.

4. ‘Jailbreak’ [1976]

AC/DC aren’t exactly known for their narrative scope, but ‘Jailbreak’ crafts a distinctly Australian underdog tale, anti-authoritarian, a little bit Shakespearian, and not to spoil the fate of the protagonist, profound in its tragedy. “All in the name of liberty”.

3. ‘Back In Black’ [1980]

Six muted guitar strokes taps count in like a ticking time bomb. Then one of the most iconic riffs of all time hits you like a blast of rock salt to the chest. Brian Johnson’s introductory howl obliterates any concern in regard to whether he could fill the formidable boots of the late, great Bon Scott.

Breathless in execution, ‘Back In Black’ jams a would should be a career’s worth of guitar dexterity, deftly compounded by uncanny shifts between vocal and drum syncopation, into one of the most explosive instances of hard rock on record.

2. ‘Let There Be Rock’ [1977]

“In the beginning…” Crafting a rock ‘n’ roll origin story within the means of a rock ‘n’ roll song seems like a recursive endeavour, the makings of musical margin notes, perhaps. Conflating the Book Of Genesis with the Book Of Chuck Berry, ‘Let There Be Rock’ imbues lyrical homage with Big Bang rhythm guitar from god of the form, Malcolm Young. That guitar tone is scary, no two ways about it. Awe-inspiring.

Its original six-minute, six-seconds runtime is exhausting in its invigoration, yet still, the track has acted as a staple crescendo for the fabled AC/DC live show in the decades since, blowing out into 15-minute plus showcases, often with Angus running horizontal circles on a platform elevated above the crowd. No matter the context, at home or in a makeshift colosseum, it’s a testament to the undiminished power of rock ‘n’ roll.

1. ‘Ride On’ [1976]

When you think AC/DC, chances are you’re not thinking down-tempo after hours bluesy croon, guided by clean guitar strokes. ‘Ride On’ is probably the quietest song AC/DC have ever recorded, but it hits with the impact of a B-double. No jokes, no innuendo, just Bon Scott, otherwise unabashed in charisma, delivering down and out lament – immediate, raw, and ultimately, optimistic. “I’m gonna change my evils ways / One of these days / One of these days,” cue Angus on a spacious, soulful blues solo.

This is as real as it gets. The perfect Bon Scott song, and by extension, the perfect AC/DC song. A triumph through heart, not bombast. It’s disarming, it’s beautiful. It’s blues, it’s rock ‘n’ roll.

Lachlan Kanoniuk is a music journalist from Melbourne who has been published in Triple J Magazine, The Brag, and X-Press.. He is on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on FasterLouder.