Guitar riffs can be defined as “a cluster or sequence of notes or chords in a song that can be repeated over and over again. They can be the basis of a song, or can be the most immediately recognisable thing about a song”.
There’s just something about hearing those few notes arranged together in a sequence that can make your head snap up from whatever you’re doing and jump to hear the song that is playing. Ever been at a concert and the crowd hears those first few notes of a song which drives everyone crazy? Guitar riffs, having started within rock songs, have become an important basis in music, meaning if you have a good guitar riff, you almost certainly have a chart topping song.
We at CelebMix decided to compile a list of what we reckoned are the best top 10 guitar riffs of this decade (so far).
10. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was released in 2010 as Foster The People’s debut single, and paved their way to fame with an iconic guitar riff and beat. Let’s face it, no summer road trip playlist is complete without this hit.
9. Paramore – Ain’t It Fun
Paramore released the track ‘Ain’t It Fun’ in 2014 from their self-titled fourth studio album ‘Paramore’. The title itself labels exactly the tune of this song, smashing out a strong four-chord riff that is immediately recognisable amongst Paramore fans.
8. Mumford & Songs – I Will Wait
Mumford & Sons released ‘I Will Wait’ as the first single from their second studio album ‘Babel’ in 2012, the recognisable banjo over acoustic guitar stapling an iconic sound to the band’s overall image. Banjo music rarely makes its way onto mainstream charts, however their incorporation of the instrument into alternative rock songs allowed ‘I Will Wait’ to chart at number 1 on the US Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs, Rock Airplay, Adult Top 40 and Alternative Songs charts. Although the banjo was ‘dropped’ from their 2015 album ‘Wilder Minds’, it still continues to be a strong basis for Mumford & Sons’ sound.
7. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
Their second released single of 2012, Imagine Dragons stormed the charts with their single ‘Radioactive’; the mellow opening acoustic guitar riff accompanied by a strong bass line before breaking out into a hard-hitting chorus allowed for a single that topped the US Rock chart and debuted at no.3 on the UK charts.
6. Muse – Psycho
Muse are known for their catchy guitar riffs that make crowds go crazy at their concerts, chanting the tune to guitar riffs as they’re played out. With a three year gap between their album ‘The 2nd Law’ and their latest album ‘Drones’, fans had high expectations for more riffs that held pounding bass and rememberable riffs; they were not disappointed when ‘Psycho’ was released in March 2015.
5. The 1975 – Chocolate
‘Chocolate’ was the second single to be released by The 1975 in 2013, and can be argued as the leading single that brought them to such massive global fame. Still a strong favourite amongst fans, no live show of The 1975 is the same without a play of ‘Chocolate’.
4. WALK THE MOON – Shut Up and Dance
Walk The Moon released ‘Shut Up and Dance’ in 2014 as the lead single from their second album ‘Talking is Hard’. The strong opening guitar riff accompanied by the catchy lyrics allowed the song to storm the charts. It also won the band two Billboard Music Awards in 2016 for Top Radio Song and Top Rock Song.
3. James Bay – Let It Go
Being James Bay’s first debut single in 2014, ‘Let It Go’ laid the foundations to a strong and thriving music career. The chill but recognisable guitar riff has become infamous in the charts, the single receiving 5 platinum certifications already.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities
Ahead of their 11th album release in June, ‘Dark Necessities’ released in May 2016 laid the foundations for a strong studio album that would not dissapoint. It reached the top spot on the Billboard’s US Rock Airplay chart. Formed in 1994, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been delivering hit after hit, and with a combination of strong bass lines and memorable guitar riffs, this band will surely continue on as the legends they are.
1. Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
Released in June 2013 ahead of their album ‘AM’, Arctic Monkeys created what can only be described as one of the most iconic guitar riffs within indie and alternative rock music. In 2014, ‘Do I Wanna Know’ sky rocketed to the top position on Billboard’s US Alternative Songs and US Rock Airplay charts. Still a solid favourite of Arctic Monkeys fans and indie-rock fans alike, this song still resonates a strong reaction.
Did you know all of these songs? Are they any songs you’d add to our list? Tweet us @CelebMix what your thoughts are!