Guitar Hero first came out in 2005 and took the world by storm. It lets gamers and musicians enjoy music while playing some of their favorite songs on instrument-shaped controllers, something super unique and groundbreaking at the time. As the games have aged, challenge runs have become more and more competitive, with players learning new tricks to try to 100% the most complex songs in the games.
In this article, we’ll go over 21 of the best songs to be included in Guitar Hero games and give you some tips to help you through them.
1. Through The Fire And Flames – Dragonforce
There probably isn’t a more iconic song than Through the Fire and Flames when it comes to Guitar Hero. This entry on Guitar Hero III is widely considered the most challenging song to play on any of the games for good reason.
It’s incredibly complex, both in the game and on real guitars, making playing it live or on expert mode a feat teetering on the edge of impossible. It’s no wonder it was used as the final boss song on the third installment of the game, and it helped put Dragonforce on the map as a band almost everyone knew.
Perhaps the most mind-blowing part of it all is watching Herman Li play the song live in the game and on real guitars in his live streams.
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2. Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns n’ Roses
Love it or hate it, Sweet Child O’ Mine is a great example of Guns N’ Roses’ iconic intro guitar riffs. It’s a rock-and-roll classic, and almost everyone has heard it at least once or twice, but Guitar Hero mixes up the song just enough to make it fresh.
It’s fun to play, even if you aren’t a big fan of the sound. Among players, it’s also one of the easiest songs in the entire game series, with only the solo giving most players any challenge.
3. Surrender – Cheap Trick
Surrender from Cheap Trick makes it so high on the list for how often it gets played by Guitar Hero gamers. It isn’t too difficult, but it’s one of the most fun songs to play on any of the series’ games.
It’s got great lyrics, but the guitar chords are mostly repeated over and over, lending the song to the easier side of things and making it one of the best for beginners to get their start in the series.
4. Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Guitar Hero franchise doesn’t just include heavy metal or arena rock bangers in their titles; they also have some songs that are a bit more chilled out and relaxing. Free Bird serves as a song that isn’t the most difficult to play but gives gamers something a bit less demanding than fast-paced songs like Through The Fire and Flames.
It’s also an iconic song in the rock and roll landscape, with plenty of older adults joking about yelling for bands to play Free Bird at concerts that aren’t Lynyrd Skynyrd. A pretty song full of soul, it’s a refreshing bluesy song to bang out in the game and a nice switch-up from many other songs.
5. Suck My Kiss – Red Hot Chili Peppers
When you pick up the controller to play Guitar Hero, you aren’t always playing the lead guitar on the song that comes on.
Suck My Kiss is the perfect example of how Guitar Hero mixes up which parts of the song you play, focusing on the parts that drive the songs instead of just the leads. This one has you laying down some thick, funky basslines to keep the hard-hitting Chili Peppers song moving forward.
6. Bulls On Parade – Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against the Machine was one of the biggest punk bands to come out of the 90s and early 2000s, but they got a reinvigoration in 2007 when Bulls On Parade was included on Guitar Hero III.
The song isn’t too hard, but you’ll often end up missing the one tricky part of the song in the “kill switch scratch,” meaning even on easier difficulties, most players end up with a minus one to their score. The song is also great for co-ops, featuring a bass solo for the second player in that mode, which is still pretty easy.
7. Reptilia – The Strokes
Reptilia is another easy Guitar Hero song to lose yourself while playing. Around three-quarters of the song is a repeated rhythm, so you’ll have a pretty easy time with most of it.
The chorus does require some dexterous fingering to play the series of quarter notes, but with a bit of practice, it’s easy to nail down. Its original appearance in Guitar Hero III was a co-op-only song later fleshed out as a solo in Guitar Hero Live.
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8. One – Metallica
One is typically considered second only to Through The Fire and Flames in terms of complex songs on Guitar Hero III. The Fast Solo A-section ramps the speed to a blistering 22.5 notes per second using ascending triplets to lay on the difficulty.
Only one person has ever hit a full combo on the song using a single hand on the frets, so if you want to master it, you’ll need some alternative strumming techniques to pull it off. It’s one of the heavier entries to the series, but it’s another metal masterclass that showcases the insane skills needed in the genre.
9. Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon
Sex On Fire feels like a song almost made for Guitar Hero. Bending guitar and bass notes drive the song and make it ideal for several players to get together. Its inclusion in Guitar Hero 5 helped make it one of the world’s biggest songs and undoubtedly one of the best songs to feature in the series.
10. Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana
You can’t really make any rock song list without one Nirvana entry. Heart Shaped Box is one of the slowest-paced songs in Guitar Hero and one of the easiest songs in the series to full combo. Most of the song is sustained chords and single notes, with a chorus full of nothing other than chords. Even the solo isn’t very complex, so if you love Nirvana and are getting started with Guitar Hero, this is the song for you.
11. Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ – The Rolling Stones
A cover of Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ is featured on Guitar Hero II and is a major fan-favorite song. It’s considered one of the easier songs to full combo, with only a saxophone solo really making it challenging.
12. Shout At The Devil – Motley Crüe
Shout At the Devil was the first song you play on the PlayStation version of Guitar Hero II and the first encore song on the XBOX 360. It has a short solo that’s pretty easy, and as a tier 1 song, you should have no significant issues playing it on any difficulty. It’s also one of Motley Crüe’s most iconic songs and one you’ll easily be able to rock out to while playing.
13. Carry On My Wayward Son – Kansas
Not sure what to say about this one; Carry On My Wayward Son is one of rock’s iconic songs and the only real hit for Kansas. It’s catchy, has an incredible introduction, and has a bluesy rock guitar that’s pretty easy to follow along with on harder difficulties. Originally appearing on Guitar Hero II, the song was known as one of the easiest ones to nail on higher difficulty levels but still carries on the smash hits we know Guitar Hero for today.
14. Before I Forget – Slipknot
You’ll love playing Before I Forget on Guitar Hero if you’re a metalhead. It’s one of the heaviest songs in Guitar Hero III and one of the hardest songs to FC on expert. A long, snaking chord is the most challenging section of the song, but you’ll also be dealing with rapidly changing chords.
One trick to keeping a higher score is skipping notes you miss; then, you’re only penalized for missing instead of both missing and strumming incorrectly.
15. Everlong – Foo Fighters
Everlong was a massive highlight of Guitar Hero: World Tour, and despite not being the hardest, it requires a pretty decent amount of stamina. You’ll mostly be switching between green and red notes, just like the other Foo Fighters songs in the games, and you might need to use some alternate strumming methods to keep from wearing out your hand. Watch out for the triplet notes if you’re sightreading the song, but sit back and enjoy it
16. The Kill – Thirty Seconds to Mars
This is one of my all-time favorite songs in the series and generally just as a song. It’s one of the band’s best and helped them reach their biggest heights before Jared Leto went a bit off the rails, and the band faltered.
The vocal, bass, and lead parts are all relatively easy to nail since they only have a few parts that even ramp up the pace. The guitar is only tricky in a few sections because you have to hit numerous notes back to back in rapid-fire fashion, but overall the song is pretty easy.
17. Miss Murder – AFI
Appearing in both Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Miss Murder is one of those songs that is very hard on the first go-around but gets easier the more you play it. The main riff needs a bit of practice but isn’t overly difficult once you’ve gone over it, making it one of the easiest songs in the franchise to FC with practice. Watch out for the Ending Lead and Interlude 2 sections, as these are the trickiest parts.
18. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Another step away from the glam rock genre, Guitar Hero again shows players how wide-ranging the music in their games can be. Livin’ On A Prayer is a massive departure from songs like Through The Fire and Flames, but you can play them back to back if you want to.
It’s a super easy song that serves as the first track on Guitar Hero World Tour, with a solo that only consists of 10 super-simple slide notes. The real parts of the song that become tricky are the drums and vocals, requiring some very high notes and a few tricky rolls to get through.
19. Same Old Song and Dance – Aerosmith
A tier five song from Guitar Hero III, Same Old Song and Dance is shockingly omitted from Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.
Fun fact for the song, Joe Perry contacted the developers about the games since his son was a big fan of them, and they ended up including a version Joe Perry did instead of the cover version that was initially slated to be included in the game. It also features a solo that wasn’t in the original song release or on Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits album.
20. Cult of Personality – Living Colour
Cult Of Personality is known as one of the easiest songs in Guitar Hero III, but playing it on expert difficulty is still ridiculously challenging. The entrance song for WWE wrestler CM Punk is also easy to rock out to and a good stepping stone for beginner players on lower difficulty settings.
21. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
It’s hard not to include Queen on this list. I mean, who hasn’t rocked out to Bohemian Rhapsody before in their lives? The song goes through several progressions, fast to slow, emotional to rocking. It’s got everything you’d want in a Guitar Hero song.
It was a featured song in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and ended up helping a massive young audience find more of Queen’s music that they otherwise might have missed out on. It’s one of the most complex songs in the series to sing, being one of only a few given a vocal difficulty score of 10.
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.