After all the huge and successful works AC/DC and its members have accomplished so far, we wanted to list the best 12 AC/DC songs that have joined our lives and our music libraries on top places.
Selling more than 200 million albums worldwide in 48 years of their career, AC/DC has obviously has become one of the best-selling music bands in the rock and roll industry as well as one of the most regarded rock bands of all time. And they sure didn’t come where they are out of nothing, considering all the great songs AC/DC produced. As well as being one of the defining acts of ’70s hard rock, the regarded band’s songs have proven their immortality by still being listened to in pleasure, as well.
But which songs are they? It wasn’t easy of course to choose among all those hard-edged, wilfully great songs, but here are the 12 best AC/DC songs along with some reviews they have received, down below.
12- It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll)
Written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott, It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll) was released only in Australia and New Zealand on 8 December 1975 as the first track of the regarded band’s second album T.N.T. But after a year, the song was also included in the international release of High Voltage in May 1976 as also its first track, as well. In the meantime, what makes this song one of the best of AC/DC is its music combined with bagpipes and hard rock instrumentation, while also its lyrics tell the hardships endured by a rock band on tour, such as being robbed, assaulted, stoned and cheated by a greedy agent. So, the regarded band simply embraced the bad things among good with this song, apparently, accepting “It’s a long way to the top/If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll.”
While the song is mostly received positive acclaim, The Guardian’s Clem Bastow praised the song saying, “It’s a Long Way to the Top may not be not AC/DC’s best song – that honor would likely go, in a three-way tie, to Ride On, If You Want Blood and Kicked in the Teeth – but as a moment of blistering prescience issued just before AC/DC became a relentless touring juggernaut over the next three decades, it’s unmatched.”
Written by Bon Scott, Angus Young, and Malcolm Young, T.N.T was taken from the regarded band’s same-titled Australian album and the international version of High Voltage and released as a single in 1976. The song immediately peaked at number 19 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart and garnered positive acclaim from both fans and critics, while glorifying AC/DC’s outlaw-rocker image one more time and becoming one of the best AC/DC songs.
Among mostly positive reviews, AllMusic acclaimed T.N.T, saying “T.N.T., though largely lost to ancient history, was a stellar album in its own right, and especially crucial in that it marked AC/DC’s definitive break with their now seemingly heretical glam rock inclinations, in order to embrace the blue-collar hard rock hat would forever after be their trademark.”
10- Shoot to Thrill
The second track on the 1980 album Back in Black, Shoot to Thrill is also the second track of AC/DC Live and AC/DC Live: 2 CD Collector’s Edition, and is included on the Iron Man 2 soundtrack, as well. But what made this song so much special is seeing Phil Rudd thrust front to drive the song’s tribal bridge for almost a minute with all he got. So, the song has ended up being all fans’ favorite and a staple on classic rock radio stations although its studio version was never released as a single. Also, Halestorm has recorded Shoot to Thrill for their EP Reanimate 2.0: The Covers, while it has also been used in lots of film and television programs, as well.
While Shoot to Thrill is received mostly positive reviews, also The Rolling Stones praised and described it as a ‘so badass’ song, that “most hard-rock bands of the era would have happily traded their leather and studs for a tune half as killer — was never released as a single. A textbook example of Angus and Malcolm Young’s water-tight guitar partnership, “Shoot” swings like the Rolling Stones in hyperdrive, with Angus pulling the trigger on not one but two ferocious solos. A staple of the band’s live sets since 1980, the song was introduced to a new audience in 2010, thanks to its inclusion on the Iron Man 2 soundtrack.”
9- Ride On
Originally released on the album ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’, Ride On was later re-released on the album ‘Who Made Who’, as well, gaining huge regard and positive reviews from fans that have ended up frequently being cited as one of the best songs of AC/DC. Featuring a significant guitar solo of Angus Young, the song also showcased a sad, slow blues sound that is accompanied by lyrics concerning a man reflecting on mistakes he has made in a relationship while drinking alcohol.
Among mostly positive reviews, Ride On was received acclaim for also “Bon Scott’s sorrowful vocals and the lyrics about just relaxing for a bit, leaving the drinking and womanizing for a little while to realize just how hollow, lonely and miserable life can be. It’s probably Scott’s most personal song, singing about his self-destroying lifestyle that eventually killed him. AC/DC isn’t known for their lyrical masterpieces, but these are quite fantastic. He sings about how everything in his life is getting him down, which is a blues cliche, but then he starts singing about just how lonely his life is and how he doesn’t want to do it anymore and how he just wants to explode but he just keeps riding on, or keep on living.”
8- The Jack
Released within AC/DC’s second studio album T.N.T, The Jack was developed by Bon Scott after he was inspired by a letter Malcolm Young received from a woman that implied Malcolm had given her a venereal disease. While the original lyrics of the song showcases far more explicit than other songs on the album as Bon Scott later recited in all on 1978’s ‘If You Want Blood’ live album, he also toned down the song in case the song got played on the radio.
While the song’s title is a reference to gonorrhea, Bon Scott also explained the song and said earlier:
“We were living with this houseful of ladies who were all very friendly and everyone in the band had got the jack. So we wrote this song and the first time we did it on stage they were all in the front row with no idea what was goin’ to happen. When it came to repeatin’ ‘She’s got the jack’ I pointed at them one after another.” Angus Young added, “After that, wherever we did the song the girls in the audience would run to the back of the hall.”
Among the most positive reviews, The Jack was also criticized as: “isn’t half as good as the later live version and also sports different lyrics to that version. It’s very blues and links the blues to what AC/DC later became. It’s fascinating from a development point of view to compare the two versions of ‘The Jack’. Back to the good old days though when AC/DC had a song called “Can I Sit Next To You Girl”. So polite these boys! The actual song is a little too much pub rock for my liking, but what are you going to do? The drunken yobbish ‘oi, oi’ parts in “T.N.T.” make me laugh and it’s a spectacular song that livens up the album just as it was starting to lose its way a little. A nod to punk? Whatever. It also contains one of the finest vocals Bon gives on this album. He proves himself right away does that boy.”
7- You Shook Me All Night Long
The first single of AC/DC from the album Back in Black to feature Brian Johnson as the lead singer who replaced Bon Scott after he died of alcohol poisoning in February 1980. The song still managed to gain huge critical acclaim, peaking at number 10 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s” as well as number 1 on VH1’s “Top Ten AC/DC Songs” lists, too. The song has become a staple of AC/DC concerts while it also reappeared on their later album Who Made Who.
Among the positive reviews that the song received, AllMusic also praised the song and the single, saying:
“In 1994, Atlantic released what are arguably AC/DC’s two best-known songs, “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long,” as a CD single. Certainly, it’s an excellent single — heavy metal doesn’t come any better than these two songs — but both are available on the excellent Back in Black album, which may be a preferable purchase for most fans since they’re supported by a number of equally great songs.”
6- For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
The same-titled track of AC/DC eighth studio album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You might have lacked the same sense of humor as Bon Scott contributed to the band’s songs while he was alive. But still, it didn’t hold AC/DC to produce one of their best songs and one of their best albums that became the first AC/DC album to ever hit number 1 in the US on the Billboard chart and stayed on the top for three weeks.
While the song mostly received positive reviews, it has been also criticized in some ways as also AllMusic declared and said:
“AC/DC’s hot streak began to draw to a close with For Those About to Rock We Salute You. While Back in Black was infused with the energy and spirit of paying tribute to Bon Scott, it became apparent on the follow-up that the group really did miss Scott more than it initially indicated. Brian Johnson’s lyrics started to seem more calculated and a bit clichéd, lacking Scott’s devil-may-care sense of humor. And the band itself slowed down the tempo frequently, sounding less aggressive and inspired. There is still some decent material here — the title track, for example, which became a concert staple with cannon-firing sound effects.”
Released as the lead single taken from the band’s 1990 album The Razors Edge, Thunderstruck has proved itself to become one of the best songs of AC/DC peaking at number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, immediately. But sure it wasn’t all it achieved, as it has become one of the most recognizable in the bands’ entire catalog as well as a setlist staple having been performed at nearly all shows of AC/DC since its release.
Among many positive reviews claiming Thunderstruck and The Razors Edge is one of the best efforts of AC/DC, also AllMusic praised the song and the band, saying:
“The closest AC/DC ever came to a full-fledged commercial comeback (as a touring entity, they’ve never been anything but indestructible), 1990’s Thunderstruck album owed much of its success to its bombastic title track, which quickly proved to be the band’s biggest radio smash in nearly a decade. And besides receiving the mandatory single release, the song also lent its name to a Europe-only EP, featuring another less-immediate, but still pretty sturdy album cut in “Fire Your Guns” and the somewhat less-popular (to put it kindly) instrumentals “Chase the Ace” and “D.T.” Both had been premiered four years earlier on the Who Made Who collection, which also doubled as the soundtrack for Stephen King’s silver screen fiasco Maximum Overdrive, and why they were resurrected here is anyone’s guess.”
4- Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is the title track of the same-titled album of AC/DC that was released in 1976. Features a backing vocal consisting of a heavy breathing sound, the song has affected everyone with its spoken-word style, as well, peaking at number 4 on the then-new Top Tracks chart. The song has also proven itself to be one of the timeless and best songs of AC/DC by being ranked number 24 VH1’s 40 Greatest Metal Songs and the 31st best hard rock song of all time, among its many other successes.
So, while Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is received inevitably positive acclaim by both and critics, as AllMusic made it also pretty clear, saying:
“There’s a real sense of menace to “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” the title song of AC/DC’s third album. More than most of their songs to date, it captured the seething malevolence of Bon Scott, the sense that he reveled in doing bad things, encouraged by the maniacal riffs of Angus and Malcolm Young who provided him with their most brutish rock & roll yet. But for as glorious as the title track was, the entire album served as a call to arms from a group that wanted nothing more than to celebrate the dirtiest, nastiest instincts humans could have, right down to the insurgent anti-authority vibe that runs throughout the record. Take “Big Balls” — sure, it’s a dirty joke, but it’s a dirty joke with class overthrow in mind. There’s a sense on Dirty Deeds that AC/DC is storming the gates — they’re problem children sick of waiting around to be a millionaire, so they’re gonna make their own money, even if they take down others as they go. That’s what gives Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap its supercharged, nervy pulse; there’s a real sense of danger to this record, something that can’t be hidden beneath the jokes. Maybe that’s why the album wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1981, after Bon’s death, after AC/DC had become millionaires — if it arrived any earlier, it would have been too insurrectionist for the common good.”
3- Let There Be Rock
The third and title track of their album Let There Be Rock, the same-titled song of AC/DC came along in March 1977 to provide an encapsulated, fictionalized version of the history of rock ‘n’ roll. While the song mostly mentions Bon Scott, Randy Rhoads, it also references other deceased rock stars such as members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy fame, as well. But what has helped the song to become one of the best songs of AC/DC was its guitar solo marathon of Angus Young as it also proved and defined how a hard rock anthem must sound like.
Among the positive acclaim Let There Be Rock received, The Rolling Stones also praised it, saying:
“The title track to AC/DC’s fourth studio album is pure statement of purpose: Bon Scott casts rock & roll as something passed down from the heavens (“Let there be light … sound … drums … geetah!“), and the rest of the band members tear into the hopped-up boogie-blues riffs and rhythms as if they are indeed doing God’s work. It’s a thrilling and, in true AC/DC fashion, often amusing six-minute roller-coaster ride that telegraphs the magic, mythology, and electricity of rock & roll as well as any song before or since. “Let There Be Rock” is also a show-stopping staple of the band’s live sets, with Angus Young’s solo spot often stretching upwards of 10 minutes as he thrashes his guitar and body around the stage. Things were seemingly just as intense in the studio, where, reportedly, Angus’ amp exploded during the recording of the song. But, recalled older brother and Let There Be Rock co-producer George Young, “There was no way we were going to stop a shit-hot performance for a technical reason like amps blowing up!””
2- Highway to Hell
The opening track of AC/DC‘s 1979 same-titled album, Highway to Hell instantly conquered the whole world as it was released in 1979. The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott, while Angus Young also credited for writing the song’s legendary guitar riff which became to be an instant classic. But still, who could have known a song reflecting the arduous nature of touring constantly and life on the road become one of the most popular and beloved songs of all time? The song’s title was also inspired by Canning Highway, which connects the Perth Kwinana freeway to its port Fremantle and was home to many of Bon Scott’s favorite pubs and hotels, including the Raffles Hotel.
So, the song obviously received positive critical acclaims alongside fans, but the best review -in our opinion- came from AllMusic‘s Stephen Thomas Erlewine, as they successfully explained the whole background of the song as well, saying:
“Of course, Highway to Hell is the final album AC/DC recorded with Bon Scott, the lead singer who provided the group with a fair share of its signature sleaze. Just months after its release, Scott literally partied himself to death (the official cause cited as acute alcohol poisoning) after a night of drinking, a rock & roll fatality that took no imagination to predict. In light of his passing, it’s hard not to see Highway to Hell as a last testament of sorts, being that it was his last work and all, and if Scott was going to go out in a blaze of glory, this certainly was the way to do it. This is a veritable rogue’s gallery of deviance, from cheerfully clumsy sex talk and drinking anthems to general outlandish behavior. It’s tempting to say that Scott might have been prescient about his end — or to see the title track as ominous in the wake of his death — trying to spill it all out on paper, but it’s more accurate to say that the ride had just gotten very fast and very wild for AC/DC, and he was simply flying high. After all, it wasn’t just Scott who reached a new peak on Highway to Hell; so did the Young brothers, crafting their monster riffs into full-fledged, undeniable songs. This is their best set of songs yet, from the incessant, intoxicating boogie of “Girls Got Rhythm” to “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It).” Some of the credit should also go to Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who gives the album a precision and magnitude that the Vanda & Young LPs lacked in their grimy charm. Filtered through Mutt’s mixing board, AC/DC has never sounded so enormous, and they’ve never had such great songs, and they had never delivered an album as singularly bone-crunching or classic as this until now.”
1- Back In Black
The lead single from their seventh album of the same name in 1980, Back In Black was written as a tribute to the band’s former singer Bon Scott, and gained enormous regard and affected the whole world for its opening guitar riff, immediately. So, the song has arguably become one of the most recognizable songs of not only the band’s but also all-time worldwide. The song has also proven itself and its immortality by charting even after 31 years on the UK charts, as well.
As for its reviews, Metal Hammer magazine hailed Back In Black’s riff as one of the greatest riffs ever, saying “There are rock songs that appeal to metal fans. And there are metal songs that appeal to rock fans. Then there is Back in Black – a rock and metal song that appeals to everybody, from dads to dudes, to little old ladies beating noisy kids over the heads with their sticks – and it all hangs on that monumental, no-nonsense, three-chord monster of a riff.”