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10 Classic Rock Songs You Love to Hate

10 Classic Rock Songs You Love to Hate

You know those songs you love to hate? The ones you know every word to but still can’t stand them? You may try to fight the feeling, but you still sing along with it when it comes on the radio. 

Well, we’re here to remind you about some of those songs. Yes, we know they’ll become earworms. It happened to us while making this list!

Let’s get into it.

Why Do We Love Certain Songs, Even Ones We Hate?

Loving or hating certain songs is certainly subjective. We all have different tastes in music, even among our friends and family. It’s part of what makes us individuals and unique creatures. 

When it comes to how much we like some songs, there are a lot of factors at play. Maybe we used to love The Eagles’ Hotel California but now can’t stand it (but still sing it when it comes on!). Or perhaps a track just gets overplayed and becomes annoying. 

Sometimes a song reminds us of unhappy times, but we still find ourselves belting out the lyrics like it’s always been our favorite. 

In some cases, it could be that you do actually like the song but can’t bring yourself to admit it. Maybe it’s super cheesy with sappy lyrics. But something about it is catchy enough for you to mentally record all the words. 

We bet some of the songs on this list are ones you love to hate. You may thank us for reminding you about certain ones. But we’ll understand if you don’t thank us for the others!

#9 Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

About the Song: This power ballad became an instant hit worldwide when it hit the airwaves in 1981. Lead singer Steve Perry composed the tune with Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain. 

It’s a memorable anthem that’s hard not to sing at full volume with anyone that happens to be around. Decades after its release, Don’t Stop Believin’ is the best-selling digital track with over seven million downloads in the US alone.

Greatest Lyric:

A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on

First Appearance: Journey included this track on their seventh studio album Escape, released in July 1981.

#8 Hotel California – The Eagles

About the Song: Originally titled Mexican Reggae due to its Latin and reggae influence, Hotel California became a staple in The Eagles’ repertoire. Don Felder, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey share writing credits for this great oldie. 

The Eagles are one of those bands people seem to either love or just downright hate. But even for those who hate them, most likely, they can sing every word to this song many others love. 

While The Eagles have a catalog of hit songs, this one is by far their most well-known. 

Greatest Lyric:

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends

First Appearance: Asylum Records released this single in February 1977.

#7 Dust in the Wind – Kansas

About the Song: Inspired by a Native American poem, Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren wrote the words to Dust in the Wind. Livgren’s wife suggested he write lyrics to accompany the music she heard him practicing on his acoustic guitar. 

Livgren reluctantly played Dust in the Wind for his bandmates but didn’t expect them to like it. The melody was very different from their 1976 rocking hit Carry On Wayward Son. But the band loved it! 

Despite being wildly different from their more uptempo numbers, this acoustic tune became the band’s most well-known song.

Greatest Lyric:

Now, don't hang on
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won't another minute buy

First Appearance: Kansas included this number as a track on their fifth album, Point of Know Return, in 1977. 

#6 We Built This City – Starship

About the Song: Starship was the cheesy 1980s version of the 1960s psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. While Starship’s lineup differed from their former band, they retained the eccentric lead singer Grace Slick. 

Elton John’s songwriter Bernie Taupin co-wrote the lyrics to Starship’s debut hit single with fellow Englishman Martin Page. We Built This City hit #1 in the US and charted in the top 20 in nearly a dozen other countries. 

Greatest Lyric:

Who counts the money underneath the bar?
Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars?
Don't tell us you need us 'cause we're the ship of fools
Looking for America, coming through your schools

First Appearance: Starship released this as their debut single in August 1985. 

#5 We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel

About the Song: If you’re a music-loving history buff, you likely don’t have much hate for this song. Billy Joel, the much-loved Piano Man, wrote the lyrics to this late 80s hit song. 

The tune references 118 political figures and cultural events from 1949 to 1989 in a creative chronological order. The accompanying music video starred actress Marlee Matlin and received heavy rotation on MTV. 

Greatest Lyric:

"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shore, China's under martial law
Rock and roller, cola wars, I can't take it anymore

First Appearance: Billy Joel released this single through Columbia Records in September 1989.

#4 I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner

About the Song: We can hear the resounding groans already! But this list of songs you love to hate wouldn’t be complete without this classic cheesy 80s tune. 

While many people would love to see this song put to rest, some musicians felt the need to keep it alive. Wynonna Judd, Mariah Carey, and Kenny Chesney brought the ballad back to life in the 21st century. 

Greatest Lyric:

In my life, there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far
To change this lonely life

First Appearance: Atlantic Records released this power ballad in November 1984. 

#3 Love Hurts – Nazareth

About the Song: Not many people realize this isn’t a Nazareth original tune. The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison released their versions more than a decade before Nazareth made it a hit. 

When Nazareth released their power ballad version of Love Hurts, it quickly became a hit worldwide. It peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit #1 in five other countries. 

Greatest Lyric:

Love is like a flame
It burns you when it's hot
Love hurts
Ooh, ooh, love hurts

First Appearance: The first recorded version appeared in October 1960 from The Everly Brothers. They included it as a track on their album A Date with The Everly Brothers.

#2 Rosanna – Toto

About the Song: Toto co-founder David Paich wrote and composed this number which became one of the band’s most well-known songs. 

Rumors floated around that the song was about actress Rosanna Arquette who was dating the keyboardist at the time. However, Paich insisted the lyrics weren’t about any particular woman but rather multiple women he knew. 

Greatest Lyric:

All I wanna do in the middle of the evening is hold you tight
Rosanna, Rosanna
I didn't know you were looking for more than I could ever be

First Appearance: Toto released Rosanna in March 1982 on their fourth album Toto IV.

#1 Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd

About the Song: You know it, you love to hate it, and you can sing every word to this song when it’s played! Free Bird quickly became Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song. They regularly performed it as a finale at their concerts, often stretching it to 15 minutes or longer.

The band dedicated the song to musician Duane Allman, founder of the Southern rock band Allman Brothers Band. Duane died in a motorcycle accident in October 1971.

Greatest Lyric:

If I stay here with you, girl
Things just couldn't be the same
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change

First Appearance: MCA Records released Free Bird on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album in 1973. 

What Other Songs Do You Love to Hate?

We know there are so many more songs we could have included in this list. And we realize some of you will wonder why certain tunes made it onto the list. But we think most of you love to hate these ten songs. What other great oldies would you add?

Robert Dunbar

Monday 11th of April 2022

Umm…. You left out Muskrat Love, which is easily cheesier than anything on this list.

Great Oldies

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

It most definitely could have been on this list. Don't worry. It's showing up in another article tomorrow. ;-)

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