The best songs about rebellion take their inspiration from the real world, whether exploring historical rebellions or current political trends.
It’s a topic that has influenced a wide range of singers and bands, from the icons of 1970s punk rock to the leading rappers of the 1990s.
In this playlist, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about these rebellious songs covering several decades of music history.
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The 23 Best Songs About Rebellion
The greatest songs about rebellion dive into the rich and powerful emotions that stir up the rebellious nature in everyone.
Featuring powerful lyrics and revolutionary instrumentation, these songs represent the artists at their very best.
Without further ado, here’s our playlist of the 23 best songs about rebellion:
23. “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” – Manic Street Preachers
The British rock song “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by Manic Street Preachers is one of the most iconic songs from the late 1990s.
“The future teaches you to be alone, the present to be afraid and cold,” this powerful protest song sings, “So if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists.”
Manic Street Preachers released “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” on their album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in 1998.
22. “Favorite Son” – Green Day
“Favorite Son” by Green Day sees the American rock band at the pinnacle of their career, with powerful guitar riffs and great vocals.
The song’s lyrics explore the life of a clean-cut American who finds that life isn’t quite what he hoped it would be.
Green Day released many great tracks, which included one of the best karaoke songs of all time, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
21. “Fuck Tha Police” – N.W.A.
A classic protest song that proved to be a huge hit at the time is “Fuck Tha Police,” released in 1988.
One of the most iconic protest songs of all time, “Fuck Tha Police,” was one of the most influential hip-hop songs of the decade.
N.W.A. prefigured the Black Lives Matter movement by many years but nevertheless touched on some of the key themes the movement inspired.
20. “The Separation Of Church And State” – NOFX
The NOFX song “The Separation of Church and State” was released on their ninth studio album, The War on Errorism.
“When did the scene become a joke? The kids who used to live for beer and speed,” the lyrics of this song say, “Now want their fries and Coke.”
It’s a punk rock song that laments the commercialization of the genre and the rise of mainstream punk that lacks a real bite.
19. “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” – Pink Floyd
The middle portion of the epic Pink Floyd track “Another Brick in the Wall” sees the band in fine form, delivering outstanding psychedelic rock music.
This operatic concept rock song was the lead track from the album The Wall and a true showcase of the band’s mastery of rock music.
It’s a song that urges the listener to break free from the real and perceived shackles in their lives and avoid becoming a slave to the system.
18. “Break Stuff” – Limp Bizkit
Like Green Day, Limp Bizkit won over millions of fans around the world with their great pumped-up songs that get the adrenaline pumping.
“Break Stuff” was released in 1999 on the album Significant Other, and it features powerful guitar riffs and dominating vocals.
The song was nominated for various awards that year, including the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Rock Video.”
17. “Rebel Yell” – Billy Idol
Blending the best of pop and rock music, Billy Idol transformed the mainstream music landscape in the early 1980s.
“Rebel Yell,” the title track from Idol’s 1983 album, is a powerful anthem celebrating the rebellious spirit of youth.
The song features a catchy chorus and a wonderfully vibrant music video that showcases Billy Idol’s aggressive singing style.
16. “War” – Edwin Starr
Over the course of his career, Edwin Starr enjoyed only a single number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, “War.”
Like many protest songs, “War” is a powerful ode to the devastating nature of combat and the trail of death and destruction it leaves behind.
Released in 1970 at the height of the Civil Rights movement, “War” is a masterpiece of soul that delivers a potent message that is still relevant today.
15. “Give It All” – Rise Against
American hardcore punk band Rise Against released their song “Give It All” in 2004 on the album Rock Against Bush.
Featuring hard-hitting beats and guitaring, this dance-punk song deals with pollution and the deterioration of people’s health in an industrialized world.
Rise Against is no stranger to writing compelling protest music, and the band achieved commercial success with their 2011 album Endgame.
14. “My Generation” – The Who
One of the most iconic protest songs from the 1960s is “My Generation” by The Who, the title track from their debut album.
The song was inspired by the Queen Mother and the removal of a hearse from the street, which offended the monarch.
It’s a thoroughly anti-establishment song with aggressive lyrics and a brilliantly directed official music video.
13. “Nelson Mandela” – The Specials
Like The Who, The Specials released many great songs that speak to political themes that speak to activists around the world.
“Nelson Mandela” is a fitting companion to the best songs about equality, with powerful lyrics about South Africa’s freedom fighters.
It’s an apt addition to a playlist that covers everything from the Troubles in Northern Ireland to the Spanish Civil War.
12. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five
Hip-hop culture is full of rich and vibrant songs about rebellion, with “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five an early example of this trend.
The song’s message offers a powerful social commentary with a memorable chorus that sums up this defiant song.
This important song was released in 1982 as hip-hop was just finding its feet to influence many great rappers to follow.
11. “For What It’s Worth” – Buffalo Springfield
“For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield takes us into the great rock music of the 1960s at the height of the Vietnam War.
“There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong,” the lyrics sing, “Young people speaking their minds, getting so much resistance from behind.”
It’s an ode to Vietnam War veterans as well as to the anti-war movement that sprang up and led to incidents of police brutality.
10. “Prison Song” – System Of A Down
Like the Sex Pistols, System of a Down made a name for themselves thanks to their hard-hitting, aggressive instrumentation and vocals.
Their track “Prison Song” is a great example of how the band helped to bring back progressive rock in the 20th century.
Released in 2001 on the System of a Down album Toxicity, “Prison Song” is a powerful song with the impact of a battle cry.
9. “Standing In The Way Of Control” – Gossip
Alternative indie rock band Gossip released “Standing in the Way of Control” in 2004 on their outstanding live album.
“When you think you’re dying, it’s part not giving in,” the lyrics sing, “And part trusting your friends you do it all again.”
It’s a song encouraging listeners to take a stand against oppression and tyranny that remains as potent today as when it was originally written.
8. “Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie
Having written one of the best songs about moving on, David Bowie took aim at rebellion with the aptly named song “Rebel Rebel.”
This great song about rebellion encouraging listeners to live their life authentically is one of Bowie’s most popular releases.
“Rebel Rebel” hit the charts in 1974, and it was featured on the classic David Bowie album Diamond Dogs.
7. “Living For The City” – Stevie Wonder
One of the most enduring hits of his prolific career, Stevie Wonder, released “Living for the City” in 1973.
This is a song that speaks to the experiences of Black Americans living in poverty-stricken cities around the country.
“Living for the City” was featured on the album Innervisions, which marked a new peak in Stevie Wonder’s songwriting career.
6. “Born In The U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen
With many Grammy Award wins and nominations to his name, Bruce Springsteen has earned his reputation as one of America’s best singer-songwriters.
“Born in the U.S.A.” is among his most famous songs, selling millions of copies worldwide and winning over countless new fans.
Released with an equally iconic official music video, “Born in the U.S.A.” is a testament to the principles that underscored the founding of America.
5. “Fight The Power” – Public Enemy
“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy is another masterpiece of modern music that needs little introduction.
Often ranked among the best songs about equality ever produced, “Fight the Power” represented the pinnacle of music from Public Enemy.
Like “Fuk Da Police,” this legendary hip-hop track is a deep reflection of the rebellious spirit that took over the Black community in the 1980s and 1990s.
4. “Killing In The Name” – Rage Against The Machine
Punk rock legends Rage Against the Machine caused a stir when they released “Killing in the Name” in 1993.
Featuring explicit lyrics and an explosive official video, “Killing in the Name” is among the best songs about rebellion ever made.
It is one of the most downloaded songs ever recorded, and it’s still widely played on punk rock radio stations worldwide.
3. “God Save The Queen” – The Sex Pistols
Few other punk rock bands have achieved the same combination of commercial success and notoriety as The Sex Pistols.
Their punk rock song “God Save the Queen” stunned music critics and audiences alike when it came out in the late 1970s.
Winner of the NME Award for “Best Single” in 1977, “God Save the Queen” is another iconic song about rebellion that resonates to this day.
2. “Imagine” – John Lennon
“Imagine” by John Lennon is another rebellion-themed song that is intimately associated with the long and destructive Vietnam War.
The song’s message is a clear appeal for pacifism and the destruction of boundaries that keep people separated from one another.
One of the most successful songs released by John Lennon, “Imagine,” has been played hundreds of millions of times on YouTube.
1. “Get Up, Stand Up” – Bob Marley
We’re rounding up this playlist of the best songs about rebellion with “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
This classic reggae song is among Marley’s most famous, from a singer-songwriter responsible for some of the best songs of all time, including “No Woman, No Cry.”
“Get Up, Stand Up” was co-written by Peter Tosh, and it’s considered one of his greatest songs ever made, appearing on many top tunes lists.
We hope you’ve found this list of songs about rebellion an inspirational resource with plenty of music to get you fired up.
The spirit of rebellion is closely linked with many popular music genres, with punk and rock just a few styles that break away from conventions.
It’s a subject that will no doubt inspire many more great songs in the future from the broad spectrum of music genres.
What’s the best song about rebellion, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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