Top 20 Aerosmith Songs
From the shotgun guitar riffs to Steven Tyler's Mick Jagger-like moves, the band rarely hid their elders' influence in the early days. But over time, they turned into one of America's best arena-sized bar bands.
Some well-documented personal battles sidelined the group in the early '80s before a triumphant comeback later that decade turned them into even bigger stars. Our list of the Top 20 Aerosmith songs spans the '70s through the late '90s. And yes, that Armageddon song is here.
20. "No Surprize"
From: Night in the Ruts (1979)
At the end of their first decade together — and at the outset of a career free fall — Aerosmith took stock of their legacy on "No Surprize." The self-mythologizing Night in the Ruts opener chronicles their early days of playing dingy clubs, wooing Clive Davis at Max's Kansas City and scoring drugs from local police. Despite their success, Tyler sings, "You could see in our eyes that we is still on trial" — and they would stay there after Joe Perry quit the band while making Night in the Ruts. (Bryan Rolli)
19. "Let the Music Do the Talking"
From: Done With Mirrors (1985)
All eyes were on Aerosmith following their reunion with Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. Although 1985's Done With Mirrors failed to put the rockers back on top, the opening track "Let the Music Do the Talking" proved they were headed in the right direction. A remake of a Joe Perry Project song featuring updated lyrics from Tyler, "Let the Music Do the Talking" rocks with clarity and a healthy dose of braggadocio, setting the stage for their proper comeback on 1987's Permanent Vacation. (Rolli)
From: Get a Grip (1993)
Aerosmith’s first chart-topping album in the United States was super-stuffed with power ballads, and the band scored a Top 15 hit with "Cryin'." Then they doused the song in a new coat of paint, added more harmonicas, renamed it "Crazy" and scored another Top 20 hit. "Crazy" is a slightly grittier (and better) companion piece, full of sizzling guitar licks and tasty phrasing from Tyler. Even on their most brazen pop crossover attempts, Aerosmith still kept their blues-rock roots intact. (Rolli)
17. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"
From: Armageddon: The Album (1998)
We get why this song is usually dismissed by fans of the band's '70s work. The power chords, the giant-asteroid movie it comes from, the way Tyler loses control of his voice (and presumably his bowels) at the end of the song. But here's the thing: It's a great song. Sure, anyone could have recorded "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" and had a hit. But Aerosmith racked up their only No. 1 with it. Well-played and well-deserved. (Michael Gallucci)
16. "Draw the Line"
From: Draw the Line (1977)
Aerosmith was falling apart at the seams by the time they released their fifth album, Draw the Line, but they fired a blistering parting shot with its title track. Perry powers the song with his swampy slide guitar, and Tyler sums up the band's dire state of affairs with lyrics like "Pass me the vial and cross your fingers, it don't take time." His raggedy shrieks near the end of the song are some of his best — and most harrowing. (Rolli)
15. "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
From: Permanent Vacation (1987)
This is where the comeback starts. After spending most of the '80s broken up, drugged-out or in rehab, the group – buoyed by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry's appearance on Run-D.M.C.'s rap version of "Walk This Way" – scored its first Top 40 hit since the unnecessary cover of the Beatles' "Come Together" back in 1978. The synth horns were a new touch, but they totally work in this hook-stuffed hit. (Gallucci)
14. "No More No More"
From: Toys in the Attic (1975)
Aerosmith was in a transitional phase in 1975 — no longer a struggling bar band, but not yet superstars. They crystallized this tension in "No More No More," detailing the struggle, monotony and debauchery of life on the road. Aerosmith would soon become untouchable and otherworldly cool, but Tyler sounds hungry and human when he wails, "It's the same old story / Never get a second chance / For a dance to the top of the hill." (Rolli)
13. "Last Child"
From: Rocks (1976)
During the '70s, Aerosmith rarely strayed from the booze-soaked guitar rock that influenced and defined them. But on "Last Child," they get funky ... or at least as funky as a band like Aerosmith could get. Structured on top of a looping bass line, the song settles into a shuffling boogie that recalls David Bowie's "Fame." By far the funkiest cut on our list of the Top 20 Aerosmith Songs. (Gallucci)
READ MORE: Aerosmith Ballads: Their 20 Best Tearjerkers
12. "Mama Kin"
From: Aerosmith (1973)
One of Aerosmith's most durable songs (they still haul it out in concert) is also one of the toughest, no-nonsense rockers they've ever recorded. The saxophone ripping through "Mama Kin" is a playful nod to the band's early debt to the Stones. But mostly it's all spitting lyrics and slicing guitar riffs – a template Aerosmith would return to again and again throughout their decades-long career. (Gallucci)
11. "Nobody's Fault"
Brad Whitford has long been Aerosmith’s unsung guitar hero, cooking up some of the band's heaviest songs. His crowning achievement is "Nobody's Fault," a metallic, Black Sabbath-ian stomper about the band's fear of earthquakes and flying. Whitford lays down titanic riffs and scalding solos as Tyler delivers doomsday prophecies with larynx-shredding fervor. Both Slash and Kurt Cobain have cited "Nobody's Fault" as a favorite, and Bay Area thrashers Testament covered it on 1988's The New Order. (Rolli)
10. "Seasons of Wither"
From: Get Your Wings (1974)
Aerosmith made a quantum leap in songwriting on their sophomore album, best illustrated by this haunting quasi-ballad. "I used to lie in my bed at dawn, listening to the wind in the bare trees, how lonely and melancholy it sounded," Tyler said in the 1997 band autobiography Walk This Way. "One night I went down to the basement ... and took a few Tuinals and a few Seconals and I scooped up this guitar Joey [Kramer] gave me, this Dumpster guitar, and I lit some incense and wrote 'Seasons of Wither.'" Even the ballad-averse Perry called it his favorite slow jam in Aerosmith's repertoire. (Rolli)
9. "What It Takes"
From: Pump (1989)
Aerosmith's comeback was in full swing when "What It Takes" was released as the third single from their hit album Pump. The power ballad sports a slight twang – a byproduct of the group's new commercial stance. This was their last Top 10 hit before "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" became their only No. 1 nearly a decade later. (Gallucci)
8. "Toys in the Attic"
From: Toys in the Attic
Aerosmith's star-making third album quickly stakes its claim as a classic with its opening title track. "Toys in the Attic" rocks with punkish aggression, chock-full of crunchy riffs and a lightning-bolt solo from Perry. Tyler's vocal melodies and harmonies are one of a kind, and his evocative lyrics outline the band's mission. "It's a statement of longevity," he said in his 2011 memoir Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? "The record will be played long after you're dead." (Rolli)
7. "Love in an Elevator"
Of all the hits Aerosmith scored in their comeback era, "Love in an Elevator" gets closest to the debauched hard rock of their '70s heyday. The riffs are monolithic, the rhythm section stomps like a tyrannosaurus rex and Tyler's motor-mouthed lyrics are the perfect blend of sleazy and tongue-in-cheek. The glossy production and outro trumpet solo put the song squarely in pop-metal territory, but they can't dull Perry and Whitford's razor-sharp dueling guitar solos. (Rolli)
6. "Home Tonight"
After eight tracks of barnstorming hard rock, Aerosmith's fourth album ends in spectacular, heartrending fashion with "Home Tonight." The ballad is a minimalist masterpiece, anchored around Tyler's plaintive piano chords and a searing guitar solo from Whitford. The lyrics are simple, but Tyler sings them with desperate longing — the sound of a vagabond rocker worn down by the road and in search of a place to lay his head. (Rolli)
READ MORE: Top 10 Aerosmith Songs Never Played Live
5. "Janie's Got a Gun"
The last thing anyone expected to hear from Aerosmith was a song about sexual abuse. Even more surprising: "Janie's Got a Gun" hit the Top 5. No small feat for a song that includes child abuse, a revenge fantasy and a hidden hook that doesn't reveal itself until more than a minute in. It's also the best song from the group's '80s comeback. (Gallucci)
4. "Back in the Saddle"
The opening song on the band's fourth album just cracked the Top 40, but it's another sturdy rocker built on a killer riff and a solid performance by the entire group. The sterling production ranks among the best in the group's catalog, even if the sound of horses, whips and Tyler yodeling may be a little too much in the end. But hurtling dangerously toward excess defined Aerosmith at this point. (Gallucci)
3. "Sweet Emotion"
From: Toys in the Attic
The band's first Top 40 appearance includes one of the best uses of a talk box ever recorded (Perry is the manipulated voice you hear at the beginning of the song). But more than that, it includes one of classic rock's most memorable guitar riffs, fired off after an extended intro that builds to the point of bursting. Aerosmith would have bigger hits, but "Sweet Emotion" is where it all started. (Gallucci)
2. "Dream On"
Aerosmith's first charting single was originally released in 1973 when their debut album came out. It stalled at No. 59. Three years later, following the success of Toys in the Attic, "Dream On" was reissued and reached No. 6, becoming the band's first Top 10 hit. It's since turned into one of the 1970s' most resilient power ballads and a perennial favorite among wishful garage-band rockers. (Gallucci)
1. "Walk This Way"
From: Toys in the Attic
Like "Dream On," "Walk This Way" boasts a twisted chart history. It was originally released as the second single from Toys in the Attic in 1975 but went nowhere. Two years later, it was reissued and made it to the Top 10. It remains one of the band's best-ever songs, a knockout combination of elastic guitar riffing and tongue-twisting rhymes. (Gallucci)