The Strokes are one of the most important bands in indie rock and were the foremost group of the indie rock revival of the 2000s. Their debut single was one of the few to ever be almost exclusively marketed online and find success. It instantly started a bidding war between record labels in the hopes of gaining the band’s signature.
While they’ve only had one single break onto the Hot 100, they have won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album and are vastly influential in their genre. Check out the 25 best songs The Strokes have ever released here:
1. Last Nite
The Strokes have several songs that you could argue are their absolute best track, but which of those perfectly represents the band as a whole? In my humble opinion, that song has to be Last Nite. It’s everything you could ever ask for in a track by them. A complex song that’s full of trebly guitars at a frantic pace, it’s one of their most famous tracks, one of their biggest hits, and perfectly representative of everything they stand for.
Reptilia is one of the few tracks that can challenge Last Nite for the title of best The Strokes song. It walks the line between classic rock and the heavy stuff they love to do, showcasing their talent with their vocals and guitars equally.
A massive fan-favorite and concert staple, this is the track that has every single fan singing along uncontrollably.
While Last Nite is the best-known song that follows the indie-disco blueprint, Someday is the one that truly dives into it. All the apathy you could ask for, and the palpable, angsty hate for the modern rat race that relates to so many people.
Someday, it might get better, but it might not too. And in the end, that’s alright—but not really. It’s a perfect encapsulation of their early sensibilities and has an effortless kind of melody that only they could truly pull off.
4. The Modern Age
The Strokes had to start somewhere, and we’re giving all the credit we can to the song that got them started down the road to fame. The Modern Age was the title track of the band’s EP that started a bidding war between record labels over their signature.
It’s an absolute banger, and it stood out among the pop music that had ruled the radio waves for so long, representing something deeper and more meaningful in its effortless joy.
5. All The Time
All The Time was the lead single of The Strokes’ fifth studio album Comedown Machine back in 2013. It was a modest hit on the charts, rising to number 47 on the US Hot Rock Songs chart and number 38 on the US Alternative Airplay chart. While the album as a whole didn’t live up to the lofty expectations set by the band, this track didn’t suffer from the same lack of quality control.
6. New York City Cops
New York City Cops isn’t a song that a lot of non-The Strokes fans are going to be privy to. It was released on international editions of their debut album but was eventually replaced on the American ones.
Written in response to a police killing in 1999 by four plainclothes officers, it targeted the city’s police by saying they weren’t too smart. Out of respect for the 9/11 attacks, they removed it from the album after witnessing the heroics of the police in the face of tragedy and the sensitive situation at the current time.
Recommended: Songs about 9/11
7. You Only Live Once
“Y.O.L.O.” wasn’t the first time somebody said ‘you only live once,’ it’s actually a pretty old sentiment. The Strokes cashed in on it too with You Only Live Once, a track that came out as part of their 2005 album First Impressions Of Earth. It was one of the fastest-spreading singles in online history and earned a place on Rolling Stone’s list of the best songs of 2006.
Juicebox is a return to form for The Strokes. After not getting any new music from them in over a year, it was released as the lead single for their third album First Impressions Of Earth, which found instant commercial success.
While critics may have called it ugly, and it was leaked well in advance of its scheduled release date, it would become the band’s only—ever—single to make it onto the US Hot 100 when it charted at number 98.
9. Under Control
Has a breakup ever been as smooth and peaceful as the one asked for in Under Control? This buttery smooth song sees the narrator asking for an amenable end to a relationship. It obviously must end; they view the world in entirely different ways and disagree on too many issues to make it work. Despite that, it’s a plea for peace between them and for them to go their separate ways quietly.
10. Heart In A Cage
Back to First Impressions Of Earth we go. The second single from the album was Heart In A Cage, a song that was a partial cover of the Ramones’ Life’s A Gas and sampled several of that band’s tracks for sections of this one. Its music video was nearly deadly, as the odd shooting locations included high places like the roof of skyscrapers, and Albert Hammond Jr. was nearly blown off the roof when they recorded in 40-mile-per-hour winds.
11. Alone, Together
Alone, Together felt like a massive breather in the fast-paced debut album of The Strokes. It was almost excruciatingly slow in comparison to the other songs on the album, only having one jump in energy about two minutes into the track. It was a personal song for the band, touching on the drinking issues that plagued Julian Casablancas’ life and caused friction in their personal lives.
12. Hard To Explain
Hard To Explain sure does have a difficult ending to explain to non-fans. The entirety of the song is building, slowly rising as it shifts gears and chugs along like a train until the very end where it cuts off abruptly. It’s got one of the best guitar lines The Strokes have ever laid down, but it’s the unique vocal style that really sends this track over the top.
Most people in the US know what a 40 is. It’s just a big bottle of strong beer, almost always sold in a 40-ounce can or bottle that is ridiculously cheap. Outside of the US, this isn’t really a thing, but many people learned about them when The Strokes released 12:51. Verging on metal, this song wasn’t just about those massive bottles of alcohol, it touched on something more important. The moments right before and leading up to sex. What an awesome track.
14. The Adults Are Talking
The Adults Are Talking was the true comeback single of The Strokes’ careers. Released in May of 2019, the song had that special something that the world was missing when they weren’t around for a while. It was a return to their old form, a glittering, and deafening rise back to their rightful place.
15. Ode To The Mets
Only in recent years have the New York Mets—MLB Baseball Team—become relevant and had a roster to back up their postseason hopes. They’re largely a team that’s been stuck being below mediocre throughout most of their history, losing out to the more popular Yankees down the road. The Strokes wrote an awesome track in tribute to the team called Ode To The Mets. It’s a love song to the outsiders, the people who nobody believes in, and frankly, the losers of the world.
Recommended: Best baseball walk-up songs
16. Meet Me In The Bathroom
I’ll say this for any younger readers out there. The bathroom is not a great place to have sex. It’s dirty, and not in the good kind of way that you want sex to be. That being said, listening to this song is almost like hearing a memoir of Julian Casablancas’ latest sexual conquests in a dive bar. It’s a sexy track despite the not-so-great location of the activities, and for that, it deserves a lot of credit.
17. Take It Or Leave It
Take It Or Leave It might be the best album-closing song in history. An absolute mic-drop moment that saw off their 2001 album and really told us exactly how much The Strokes cared about anyone’s opinion of them or their music.
18. Eternal Summer
Eternal Summer might be the best song on an album it shared with The Adults Are Talking. It’s pure The Strokes, but it adds a new layer of flavor to their music. It’s the best example of the album of the band moving into something new while keeping the things that made them who they are and sums it up in the most perfect way possible.
19. Not The Same Anymore
While The Strokes were young at the beginning of their careers, today, they’re proving they learned from their experiences. Not The Same Anymore is a retrospect on that young success, a song dealing with all the mistakes they made and looking back at them with both nostalgia and disgust.
20. Vision of Division
If you wanted hard rock on The Strokes’ third album, you’d have nowhere to look other than at Vision Of Division. As unique as anything else on offer there, the song was one of the first times they stepped away from their garage rock sound and into something more polished. It’s a huge fan favorite, hence why it’s been performed at almost every concert they have done since the album was released.
21. Ask Me Anything
It’s rare for an artist—or person with a platform in general—to say that they don’t have anything that they want to say. But, that’s exactly what The Strokes did with Ask Me Anything. It was completely different from any song they had ever produced, throwing in strings, odd distortion, and a new vocal style that resonated with fans.
22. Barely Legal
While the band members might cringe a bit if you mention Barely Legal to them—and plenty of fans agree—the song is still one of their finest offerings. Overall, the track is about trying to hook up with a girl that just reached legal age when it’s okay to hook up with her, which alone is iffy. But, it was a hard-hitter for Julian Casablancas, as it was related to his father’s affair with—at the time—a 16-year-old girl.
23. Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus
Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus is one of the most introspective songs The Strokes have produced, and that’s saying something on its own. Diving into the past, from the 80s bands that inspired them to the people they left behind, it muses on the past like an old friend and accepts the fact that those things need to be put behind them.
24. The End Has No End
The Strokes largely stayed away from politics. Yes, they maligned society and were very nihilistic and apathetic about life, but the political side was typically something left untouched by the band. Not so for The End Has No End. It referenced several political events, from assassinations to protests, asking the simple question: is it us or the government that’s making everything suck so bad?
25. Trying Your Luck
When The Strokes got their big break, they were all relatively young and didn’t have life figured out. That inevitably leads to mistakes and misplaced angst, which was a tough time for them and a great thing for fans of their work because it gave them awesome material. Trying Your Luck came from that time, drawing on the feeling of being young and in love but not knowing how to actually handle the situation.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.