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The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century

Photo of AUDIOSLAVE, 09-06-2003, Pinkpop, Audioslave, guitarist Tom Morello.
(Image credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns)

Welcome to Total Guitar’s rundown of the greatest guitar songs from the last couple of decades. Before we begin, let’s explain how it works… It’s not an exhaustive list! 

We agonised over presenting our favourite songs whilst also covering some major trends in guitar music. We’ve generally shied away from shred and instrumental music, save for a few notable exceptions. 

Of course, one person’s ‘greatest’ is another’s ‘ghastliest’.  For us, the measure of greatness is wide open, especially as we’re talking about songs and not necessarily virtuoso guitar playing. 

Some songs may be innovative in their use of effects. Others represent a breakthrough point in a band’s career. Some are big hits; others are lesser-known cuts. And some might just hit a note of nostalgia!

Finally, make sure to check out our YouTube video playlist (opens in new tab), where you’ll find tips on playing a selection of our chosen songs. Right! Turn your mind back to the year 2000, and let’s get started…

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Total Guitar is one of Europe's biggest guitar magazines. With lessons to suit players of all levels, TG's world-class tuition is friendly, accessible and jargon-free, whether you want to brush up on your technique or improve your music theory knowledge. We also talk to the biggest names in the world of guitar – from interviews with all-time greats like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen to our behind the scenes Rig Tour features, we get you up close with the guitarists that matter to you.