The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century

The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century – 2015

Grinder – Gary Clark Jr.

One listen to 2015’s The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim confirms the Texan knows his way around the fretboard and has a knack for making guitars scream. The thick, fuzz-marinated leads and roaring feedback heard on Grinder will have you wincing – in the best possible way. 

The opening D5-C5 chords are easy, but it’s Gary’s scorching wah licks that really set the opening verse alight. Most of these lines are based around the good old minor pentatonic scale – in D here (D F G A C), so the root note is on the 10th fret. 

Listen out at 1:10 when Gary hits a long, whining string bend up to an E note; that 2nd interval really grates – as we said before, in the best possible way!

Happy Song – Bring Me The Horizon

Sheffield’s enfant terribles channel Morello-style riffing for this welcomingly hooky yet stomping number from 2015’s That’s The Spirit.

Cirice – Ghost

Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls deliver this doom-laden metal riff on Gibson RD guitars, before they made a switch to Hagstrom Fantomens in more recent times.

The Red And The Black – Iron Maiden

Four decades and 16 albums in, the NWOBHM originals are still the masters of their world – as evidenced on this perfectly crafted 13-minute epic.

Hungry Heart – Yak

Rambunctious and noisy, the bludgeoning relentlessness of London power trio Yak’s debut single landed like a ten ton anvil.

Noble Savage – Clutch

The Maryland quartet’s axeman, Tim Sult, is very much today’s answer to Tony Iommi when it comes to heavy blues riffing. Don’t believe us? Just listen to this.

Riverman – Noel Gallagher's High-Flying Birds

Noel shows the power of a simple strumming pattern, a few chords and a solo you can sing.

Brazil – Declan McKenna

The sneaky slides on Declan’s Telecaster make this riff stick. The rest is just the magic of barre chords.

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Total Guitar editors

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.