10 Best Rage Against the Machine Songs
Three studio albums and a covers album may not be the proper measuring stick to analyze most bands careers, but when it’s an in-your-face outfit like Rage Against the Machine, their bomb tracks still resonate with an ever resounding freshness. The political and impassioned fervor of Zack de la Rocha, coupled with the sonic assaults of Tom Morello and Tim Commerford and rapid fire beats of Brad Wilk place them in an entire league of their own.
It’s truly difficult to come up with a top 10 Rage Against the Machine songs list, and we’re sure this is the kind of subject that can be argued until the cows come home. Strap in, turn it up and rock it out as we bring you our selections for the 10 Best Rage Against the Machine Songs.
Arguably Rage Against the Machine’s most anthemic tune, ‘Testify’ dives right into the band’s passionate mission statement. Although it’s taken from their album ‘The Battle of Los Angeles,’ ‘Testify’ is a universal call to action, urging us to bear witness to society’s various ills. Zack de la Rocha’s finest moment comes with his mesmerizing rendering of the prescient lines “Who controls the past now controls the future / Who controls the present now controls the past.”
‘Tire Me’ is, ironically, one of the lesser known Rage songs due to its lack of radio play as well as the group’s decision not to release a music video. Although the track doesn’t hold their trademark catchy choruses, ‘Tire Me’ is pure, unadulterated rock, and the seamless guitar and bass stylings of Tom Morello and Tim Commerford are the song’s major assets. The song won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1997.
‘Year of tha Boomerang’
‘Year of tha Boomerang’ is one of the band’s funkier tracks and a head bobber that first turned up on the ‘Higher Learning’ soundtrack. The song’s profundity rests on its take on colonization’s destructive power, as de la Rocha’s words are inspired by Jean-Paul Satre’s preface of the Franz Fanon’s book ‘The Wretched of the Earth.’ A mind bending track for the Rage faithful, it also carries a beat that can’t be denied and deserves to rock this list of 10 Best Rage Against the Machine Songs.
‘Sleep Now in the Fire’
‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ is that double edged sword which Rage Against the Machine continues to wield, as its initial power comes from’s Zack de la Rocha’s opening screams and the hard driving axe of Tom Morello. The song’s lyrics continue the band’s attack against humanity’s greed towards colonization and capitalism. ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ is a song that’s still hard to shake, even if you close your eyes to the song’s actual message.
The glory behind ‘No Shelter’ rests on the song’s mixture of hypocrisy and irony. Although the song is featured on the ‘Godzilla’ soundtrack, the lyrics warn listeners on the perils of entertainment. As the cliche goes, weapons of mass distraction will sway us from our world’s true problems, as Zack de la Rocha raps, “Godzilla pure motherf–kin’ killer / Get your eyes off the real killer.” Whether or not you’re pissed Rage contributed a song for a horrible movie really isn’t the point. ‘No Shelter’ rocks, even if Godzilla’s fire is completely gone.
‘Calm Like a Bomb’
‘Calm Like a Bomb,’ featured on ‘The Battle of Los Angeles,’ is one of the group’s funkiest tunes, thanks to de la Rocha’s swagger-filled delivery as well as Tom Morello’s liberal use of the whammy pedal. Upon first blush, you’ll be bobbing your head to the feverish beats but take a look beyond the sound to check out the lyrics. The cut, which references Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, contains another de la Rocha dig on expansionism: “These vultures rob everything / Leave nothing but chains / Pick a point on the globe / Yes the picture’s the same.”
‘People of the Sun’
It’s a pretty ambitious task to link the fall of Aztec ruler Cuauhtemoc and the Zoot Suit riots of Los Angeles, but Rage Against the Machine accomplished the feat in this all too short track. The addictive ‘People of the Sun,’ aside from its memorable refrain, offers listeners a ray of hope. No matter if you’re a student of history or are bound to repeat it, the people of the sun are, as de la Rocha promises, coming back around again. It’s a wonderful opener to the group’s landmark album ‘Evil Empire’ and one of Rage Against the Machine’s 10 Best Songs.
‘Guerilla Radio’ is the perfect song to sweat out the pounds at your local gym, and it’s hard to find a more signature Rage track. Even though it’s total music to one’s ears, ‘Guerilla Radio’ is also a visual experience. Zack de la Rocha raps that there is no “better time than now,” and hopefully that message will someday be heard on a global scale.
‘Bulls on Parade’
The perils of the military industrial complex are front and center with ‘Bulls on Parade,’ as de la Rocha addresses a library that’s turned into rubble. Although the song is filled with a “pocket full of shells,” it’s Tom Morello’s wicked riffing, coupled with de la Rocha’s screams that turns ‘Bulls on Parade’ into a full fledged riot track. If you haven’t screamed the track’s chorus during the song’s closing moments, then your guerilla radio needs its batteries checked.
‘Killing in the Name’
‘Killing in the Name’ is widely held as the group’s trademark song. Whether the actual target is the KKK, the police or the military industrial complex, Zack de la Rocha’s rebellious “f–k you I won’t do what you tell me” hits an impassioned, universal tone. The song still stands the test of time thanks to its no holds barred, funk rock infused delivery, but it’s the track’s final strains that typifies the band’s dedication to self awareness and non-conformity and makes it our No. 1 of the 10 Best Rage Against the Machine Songs.