Music

You won’t agree with the BBC’s list of the 100 greatest guitar riffs of all-time

The guitar riff in Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ is officially better than the riff in Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’ – even though they’re basically the same. That startling revelation is just one of the many things to be learnt from the BBC list of the 100 greatest guitar riffs of all time.

Unsurprisingly Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ topped the poll, prompting a virtuoso performance in false modesty from guitarist Jimmy Page. “I’m knocked out by this, because I didn’t expect that to happen,” he somehow managed to say without smirking. “I wanted a riff that really moved, that people would really get, and would bring a smile to their faces. But when I played it with the band, it really went into overdrive. There was this intent to have this riff and the movement of it, so it was menacing as well as quite sort of caressing.”

While the list was dominated by your (gran)dad’s favourite bands, a few youngish whippersnappers including Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Franz Ferdinand, Blur and Foo Fighters also made the cut. And apparently Joan Jett and Kim Deal are the only people without a Y chromosome to write a memorable riff. There are 99 riffs better than Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ but just 24 riffs better than The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’, including Guns ‘N’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ and Status Quo’s Coles jingle ‘Down Down’.

The list of 100 riffs was selected by a panel of music industry experts including Radio 2 and 6 Music DJs, music critics and record producers.

The 100 Greatest Riffs Of All-Time:

100.Get Lucky – Daft Punk

99. Unbelievable – EMF

98. Loser – Beck

97. Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet

96. Rocks – Primal Scream

95. Bohemian Like You – The Dandy Warhols

94. Jack & Diane – John Mellencamp

93. Lonely Boy – The Black Keys

92. September – Earth, Wind & Fire

91. The One I Love – R.E.M.

90. Wheels – Foo Fighters

89. C’mon Everybody – Eddie Cochran

88. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle – Electric Light Orchestra

87. Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor

86. That Lady – The Isley Brothers

85. Mr Tambourine Man – The Byrds

84. Words of Love – Buddy Holly

83. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley

82. Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll – Rainbow

81. Boom Boom – John Lee Hooker

80. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

79. Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

78. Cannonball – The Breeders

77. Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty

76. A Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins

75. My Sharona – The Knack

74. Block Buster! – Sweet

73. Rumble – Link Wray

72. Every Breath You Take – The Police

71. Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison

70. Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

69. There She Goes – The La’s

68. Theme From Shaft – Isaac Hayes

67. Shakin’ All Over – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

66. Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2

65. Need You Tonight – INXS

64. Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz

63. Marquee Moon – Television

62. Song 2 – Blur

61. Misirlou – Dick Dale

60. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

59. Good Times – Chic

58. Peter Gunn – Duane Eddy

57. Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters

56. Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top

55. Walk This Way – Aerosmith / Aerosmith & RUN-D.M.C.

54. Don’t Believe A Word – Thin Lizzy

53. Beat It – Michael Jackson

52. Killing in The Name – Rage Against The Machine

51. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash

50. Spoonman – Soundgarden

49. Milk & Alcohol – Dr. Feelgood

48. Life In The Fast Lane – Eagles

47. Atomic – Blondie

46. Stay With Me – Faces

45. Run To You – Bryan Adams

44. Apache – The Shadows

43. Fools Gold – The Stone Roses

42. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

41. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love – Van Halen

40. Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

39. I Can’t Explain – The Who

38. No One Knows – Queens of The Stone Age

37. Cigarettes & Alcohol – Oasis

36. Hocus Pocus – Focus

35. No Surprises – Radiohead

34. Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

33. Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols

32. She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult

31. One Vision – Queen

30. Alive – Pearl Jam

29. The Riverboat Song – Ocean Colour Scene

28. Day Tripper – The Beatles

27. I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) – The Rolling Stones

26. Paranoid – Black Sabbath

25. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

24. Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream

23. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

22. Oh Well – Fleetwood Mac

21. All Right Now – Free

20. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

19. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

18. The Spirit Of Radio – Rush

17. Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry

16. Enter Sandman – Metallica

15. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

14. 20th Century Boy – T. Rex

13. Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers

12. Purple Haze – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

11. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

10. Money – Pink Floyd

9. You Really Got Me – The Kinks

8. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

7. Down Down – Status Quo

6. How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths

5. Layla – Derek And The Dominoes

4. Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple

3. Back In Black – AC/DC

2. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns ‘N’ Roses

1. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin