The Foo Fighters are a band that spans generations. Since 1994, the Dave Grohl founded and fronted rock band has released 9 studio albums. Though bandmates (save for bassist, Nate Mendel) have changed over the decade and a half, the albums continue to come, feeding the fiendish desire of die-hard Foo Fighters fans.
Ask the fandom and you might get different answers as to which of the 9 albums is the best one. We’ve taken into account opinions of ferocious fans as well as critical acclaim and potentiality for rock infamy and ranked them, best to worst, ourselves.
1. The Colour and The Shape
The Colour and The Shape is a widely-shared favourite album for Foo Fighters fans. It brought some of the best songs the band would make: ‘Everlong” and “My Hero”. “Everlong” was nominated for 3 MTV Music Video Awards the year after the album’s release in 1997. It didn’t end up winning any of them, but was revisited in the category of “Should Have Won A Moonman” in 2009, proving that it was a song built to last.
“My Hero” was also on this album, which left a lasting impression of its own. A celebration of everyday heroes in life, it’s still one of the most talked-about and recognized songs in the Foo Fighters’ catalogue.
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2. Foo Fighters
There’s no denying an album that a band deems so deeply rooted in who they are that it’s self-titled. Foo Fighters gives us the debut album that Grohl admitted to writing in a week of nonstop studio-time.
Though it was banged out in a flash, it’s proven to be an enduring moment in the alternative rock community. It’s perhaps the most heavily-influenced by Grohl’s alma mater Nirvana, as it comes a year after the death of Kurt Cobain and marked the beginning of a legacy that would become Dave Grohl.
3. Wasting Light
The seventh studio album by the Foo Fighters calls back to its early-aught origins by reintroducing rhythm guitarist Pat Smear. It also returns to original methods of album-making and was recorded in Grohl’s garage and produced by Nevermind producer Butch Vig. The results were noteworthy, beginning with the lead single “Rope”, which debuted on the Billboard Rock charts at #1. The album went on to win the Best Rock Album award at the 2012 Grammys and is still celebrated and loved by fans.
4. There is Nothing Left to Lose
This album was the last drop of Foo Fighters music fans would get out of the ‘90s. It was successful in giving fans treasured power ballads that would endure the turn of the century. Grohl switches gears from head-banging to actually singing in this fourth album, and tracks like M.I.A. put Foo Fighters on the map alongside rockers like the Goo Goo Dolls for hard-rocking love songs. There is plenty of heavy-hitting grunge suspended in hints of the evolving time.
5. Concrete and Gold
Concrete and Gold is one of the most disputed albums in the Foo Fighter’s catalogue if you ask their die-hard fans. It reached #1 in the US and the UK, proving it was still a successful work regardless of how it would go down in history. It was the chance for the band to evolve with the changing tastes of the late 2010s, but they don’t veer off their true course much, and that’s evident with the chart-topping single “Ride” and “The Sky Is A Neighborhood”.
Some other songs on the album call in mainstream pop culture icons like Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney for background vocals, proving that there’s an opportunity to blend and still stay true. C&G proves the band is able to shine like gold and still be concretely rooted in their origins.
6. In Your Honor
In 2005, fans got a double dose of Foo Fighters with In Your Honor. It was the result of a conscious attempt for Grohl to make something different, enduring, and worthwhile. It’s been described by Grohl himself as “the bottle and the hangover,” as the first disc differs greatly from the second in overall vibe. Best of You became, appropriately, the highest charting single for the band ever in the US, UK, Australia.
The album also solidified its place in pop-culture, becoming somewhat of a zeitgeist as a ringtone on Cingular cell phones, features in TV series like West Wing, and lending a heart-pumping track to popular video game Madden ‘06.
7. Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace
This album, which followed in 2007, took the same approach of blending the dynamics of acoustic and heavy-rock as In Your Honor. It was regarded relatively well upon release, with three successful singles, though most fans and critics agree it was lacking in the band’s authenticity. It’s a fair critique, given that Grohl himself had intended for the band to go outside of their comfort zone. It’s an album in response to his realization of something greater than life and death, and this deeply spiritual inception was made blatant on the top-charting singles such as “Let it Die” and “Long Road to Ruin.”
8. One by One
Whereas C&G has split supporters, One by One was critically-celebrated but only truly captivated a select few of their fan base. Foo Fighters won their second Best Rock Album award at the 2004 Grammy’s for this album. Singles included the opening three tracks to the album: “All My Life”, “Low”, and “Have It All”.
After those hard-rocking songs, the sound fizzles out into tracks with titles citing feelings of disenchantment, loneliness, and tiredness. The same diminishing energy around the album as a whole was shared by fans, critics, and even, later on, the band itself.
9. Sonic Highways
Sonic Highways lives in infamy for its own reasons aside from its tracklist. Grohl famously went on tour for this record dragging a broken leg. This heavyweight proved to be the star of the show. The album itself allows for ambitions of transformation, which was regarded among critics as a positive move though it received average-at-best reviews.
In terms of the band’s full discography, fans were pleased to receive the latest album, but clearly didn’t accept it as a shining example of the rock legend’s legacy.
Dan Cody is Editor-in-Chief at No Majesty.