Rank and File finds us sorting through an exhaustive, comprehensive body of work or collection of pop-culture artifacts. This time, we sort through every Foo Fighters song and admire all the pretty colours and shapes.
It’s been 20 long years since Foo Fighters defied all expectations and successfully avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with The Colour and the Shape. While their self-titled debut was a solo album all but in name, Grohl added Nirvana guitarist/Germs legend Pat Smear, as well as two members of Sunny Day Real Estate, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith, for Colour. Mendel is with the Foos to this day, but Goldsmith only made it onto a couple songs before being re-recorded by Grohl himself. The guy’s a tough act to follow, though future member Taylor Hawkins has given more than his fair share. Hard to imagine the band was ever without him.
With that history lesson behind us, five Foo fans decided to rank every Foo Fighters song. There are the usual caveats: No songs are included that have only been released in demo form, and no covers will be found here. We learned a lot about the band in the process, but most noticeably these three items:
— Grohl knows how to pick a single.
— Foo B-sides are B-sides for a reason.
— This band’s highs are as high as any other artists’ highs. High!
Let’s enjoy this long road to … success! We were certainly “exhausted” when all was said and done, but “big me” to talk about it. Here’s the best, the best, the best, the best of…
126. “Cold Day in the Sun”
In Your Honor (2005)
Oh, don’t get so up in arms. Something had to go here. And if we can be perfectly honest, it’ll be a cold day in hell before we feel the need to revisit “Cold Day in the Sun”. Everything we love about the Foos has been sanded down, polished up, and neutered three times over. This song should be playing in a hammy movie montage of people over-enthusiastically shopping for pants and sweaters in chain department stores. If that’s the demographic Hawkins and co. were aiming for (the khaki contingent), they nailed it. –Matt Melis
125. “Walking a Line”
One by One Special Limited Edition (2002)
Proof that a bonus isn’t always a good thing, this One by One bonus track can be filed under “too much of a bad thing.” Forget the painfully strung-together clichés or the tedious repetition that make the song play three days over its actual runtime; a rock song that agitates a bit can be a good thing, but this B-side is the equivalent of a fly you just can’t swat away, one that keeps buzzing you “over and over and over again.” Sorry if anyone reading danced at their wedding to this song. That’s your problem, not mine. –Matt Melis
124. “The Feast and the Famine”
Sonic Highways (2014)
The cruel joke of the Foos’ tribute to the D.C. hardcore movement of Grohl’s youth is how thin it all sounds. Even when the members of his old band Scream join in for the shout-along chorus, their voices are buried so low in the mix that the song never achieves the scene-power Grohl is so fond of singing about. –Dan Caffrey
123. “Word Forward”
Greatest Hits (2009)
Grohl’s eulogy to a dead friend has moments of emotional resonance, which soon get sapped by the repetition of the awkward title pun. –Dan Caffrey
“Best of You” single
The most rewarding aspect to any Foo Fighters B-side is the way you can pinpoint how the band goes through the motions in the studio. More often than not, they sorely lack in any hooks or melodies and have as much flavor as a slice of Melba Toast. They also go on for far too long. “Spill” hits the bull’s-eye on every one of these points. It’s like being stuck in a waiting room with a friend who can’t talk because he or she’s got their tonsils removed. Fun. –Michael Roffman
121. “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners”
Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace (2007)
This entry deserves, at the very least, some slight admiration for its intent. After meeting an Australian miner who survived the Beaconsfield mine collapse, Grohl was moved to discover that, while trapped, the man requested an iPod with In Your Honor on it. As a tribute to him and the rest of the miners, Grohl dedicated a song to them on the band’s next album. Unfortunately, the instrumental “Ballad” sticks out like a blackened thumb on the otherwise rock-heavy Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. Grohl and guitar virtuoso Kaki King pluck up a storm, but the rusticity becomes nothing more than a (thankfully short) interruption in the heavier work at play. –Dan Caffrey