Shinedown has proudly helped carry the rock flag for nearly two decades.
Arriving in the early aughts, Shinedown has racked up a ton of hits over the course of seven studio albums. From number-one rock hits to deeper cuts, here are Shinedown’s 20 best songs ranked.
The final track on ‘Threat to Survival,’ “Misfits” is just a really sweet love song about finding that one weirdo that just understands you more than anyone else in the world. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“Put your hands in the air/If you hear me out there.” Few lyrics are as tailor-made for an arena crowd like the booming chorus of “Unity,” which serves as a friendly reminder that rock and roll doesn’t always have to be so angry. Not that there’s anything wrong with releasing your anger, but sometimes, we all need to be uplifted in some fashion.
Metaphors can be tricky, especially when they're related to guns. Brent Smith said of “45,” “I think a lot of people kind of take a literal sense because of the lyrics – but the song is basically about the day that you wake up and you look at yourself in the mirror and you finally decide that you want to try to become comfortable in your own skin and realize that you’re gonna have to make yourself happy before you’re going to make anyone else happy.” The track was Shinedown’s second single in their career, and it foreshadowed the band’s sonic evolution over the course of the aughts.
Shinedown has flirted with pop-rock crossovers in their career, and one of the finest examples is the midtempo ballad “I Dare You.” It would peak on the Billboard Hot 100 at #88, and it’s one of a handful of Shinedown singles that didn’t hit number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. (It would peak at number two and would be denied the top spot thanks to Godsmack’s “Speak.”)
Shinedown has been experimenting with concept albums as of late, with 2018’s ‘ATTENTION ATTENTION’ being their first foray into the art form. The album focuses on an unknown, abstract individual that begins the LP in a very negative headspace. As the album progresses, this person works through their various issues and comes out on the other side, and “BRILLIANT” serves as the triumphant final track. Not to be cheeky, but the track itself is brilliant beginning as a pseudo-ambient ballad before barrelling through your speakers with effervescent defiance.
That debut Shinedown record is still solid when you listen to it today, and “Burning Bright” is, perhaps, an underrated highlight. What a great bridge this track has! Artists need to utilize bridges more in their songs. It really doesn’t happen enough anymore.
Why are some of the catchiest songs so damn dark? And why do they often have great basslines, too? Perhaps we’ll dive into those topics another time, but “Save Me” is not subtle about its subject matter. (“Somone save me, if you will/And take away, all these pills.”) As the lead single off their second LP ‘Us and Them,’ “Save Me” showed that Shinedown wasn’t a fluke and that the sophomore slump wouldn’t be rearing its ugly head.
“MONSTERS” revisits the themes from “Save Me” about drug and alcohol abuse, which singer Brent Smith has openly dealt with over the years. In an interview with ‘Classic Rock,’ Smith said of “MONSTERS,” “I never went to rehab, I didn't do a 12-step program, and I don't talk about sobriety unless I'm asked about it. Even then, I don't spend much time on it because I literally live my life day by day. That's how I have to do it, but the dynamic in the song is not just about substance abuse. It's about a lot of different situations that people get put in because they have things in their mind that – for whatever reason – they used to sabotage themselves. They don't know why they do it, but they do it, and these are the monsters that I'm talking about: those voices that say, 'I know this is going to be really fucked up after it's over with, but let's do it anyway.' That's the sentiment in the song, when I sing that my monsters are real and they're trained to kill.”
Shinedown has a number of ballads in their arsenal, but this one might be the most beautiful. (Adding strings to a track always seems to up the beauty ante.) The track was inspired by Brent Smith’s then-girlfriend, but drummer Barry Kerch noted, “It’s about the rebirth of this band, Brent’s meaning might differ slightly in that it contains the thoughts about his girlfriend who helped him through a difficult time, but those two things kind of happened at the same time and it really encompasses the band.”
The placement of “It All Adds Up” on this list might surprise some, but when you revisit this track, it doesn’t sound like *anything* else in Shinedown’s catalog, and that’s what makes it so intriguing and hard to ignore. Well, that and the fact there’s clearly something sinister afoot. (“You’re a long, long way from where you thought you would be/Every murderer has a motive but you ain’t killin’ me.”) Plus, that rhythm track is simple but very effective.
Similar to “It All Adds Up,” there’s really no other track in Shinedown’s catalog that sounds like “DARKSIDE.” The track features this jaunty piano track from guitarist Zach Myers that, in theory, shouldn’t work, but it does. Shinedown has so many radio hits that sometimes album cuts might get lost in the shuffle, but do yourself a favor and revisit this track if you haven’t listened to it in a bit. It’s surprising in the best way possible.
Shinedown really came into their own on ‘The Sound of Madness,’ and they didn’t waste anytime out the gate with the driving “Devour,” the album’s opening track and lead single. While Shinedown has never been an overtly political band, Brent Smith took inspiration from the Iraq war for the song saying, “This was a song that was totally representative of the men and women of the United States of America in the military and all the armed forces and what they do for us. But in all reality it's a hat's off to them and all they do for us. But it's also me looking into the eye of the person I'm supposed to look at as the leader of the free world and this is my opinion towards you for what you've done in those years.”
Shinedown knows how to kick off an album with a bang! “Adrenaline” is a straight-forward rock song that we dare anyone to not get amped while listening to it. It’s no wonder it’s one of many songs WWE has licensed for use for their pay-per-view events. (“Adrenaline” was the official theme for the 2012 installment of “Extreme Rules.”)
Think of the rhythmic ballad “How Did You Love” as a friendly reminder that we all only have one life on this Earth. Brent Smith said of the track to ‘Billboard,’ “...This song ‘How Did You Love’ is about understanding and respecting your own mortality. Not in a morbid, negative way, but in a way that inspires you to live each day to its fullest and without regret, especially when it comes to your relationships and your individuality. You need to be at peace and proud when you look back and ask yourself, ‘how did you love?’”
Some rock bands dream of being able to write that one perfect radio hit that’s the ideal balance of catchy and aggression. Shinedown have managed to do that *many* times over, and “Enemies” is a prime example of just that. Simply stated: It’s undeniable. (Side note: The brass at WWE must have *really* like the ‘Amaryllis’ album, because they ended up using “Enemies” as the theme song to ‘Monday Night Raw’ from July 25, 2016 to January 22, 2018.)
Remember that thing about creating many perfect radio hits? Here’s yet another! “Sound of Madness” had the daunting task of being the next single for release after Shinedown’s biggest hit “Second Chance.” (More on that tune shortly.) However, “Sound of Madness” accomplished a unique feat by becoming the only band whose first ten single all reached at least the top five on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Four of those songs hit number one, including “Sound of Madness.”
A power ballad with a moving string arrangement and a monster guitar solo? Of course this gave Shinedown another number one on the Billboard rock charts! The lyrics for “The Crow & the Butterfly” express a sense of loss and grief, which is one of the most universal themes in life, let alone music. If only loss and grief sounded this beautiful.
“‘Cause it’s about to get heavy!” One of the band’s most aggressive tunes, “Devil” was the lead single off of Shinedown’s sixth studio album ‘ATTENTION ATTENTION,’ and it came about 15 years after the band dropped its debut single. They had come a long way since their initial release, but through it all, they stuck to their guns and proved they had more than enough gumption in their tank and ample hits in the chamber. “Devil” is proof of that. And like many Shinedown singles, it was number one with a bullet topping Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart in June 2018.
Released as a single but eventually landing on the deluxe version of ‘The Sound of Madness,’ the backstory of “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” is rather interesting. Brent Smith was asked by Sylvester Stallone to write a song for his 2010 film ‘The Expendables.’ Somehow, this very grand tune ended up not being included in the theatrical release of the film but did go on to be featured in the director’s cut. Sure, this probably wasn’t the intended end game for Smith, but this track truly is a diamond in a catalog littered with hits. The fact that “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” would go on to be Shinedown’s sixth number one hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart probably helped ice the burn from not being included in ‘The Expendables.’
An obvious choice for number one? Considering “Second Chance” is Shinedown’s most successful single from their most successful album, perhaps it is. However, this soaring track is also *the* quintessential Shinedown song. The band has a very unique way of presenting arena-ready tunes that also pack a sense of intimacy. “Second Chance” was inspired by Brent Smith’s own experience with chasing his rock and roll dreams. It wouldn’t be surprising to find out it inspired fans to take that brave leap they’ve been scared to take in their life. And if you’re still finding the strength to go after what you *really* want, throw on “Second Chance” again. It might just be the wake-up call you need.